Russia is one of the world’s largest countries, a traditional superpower and a centre of education for most of Eastern Europe.
Its membership of the European Higher Education Area means that many Russian universities are now offering education in a more Westernized style, but studying an undergraduate degree in Russia is about more than your course.
Russia offers stunning scenery, amazing cities and a plenty of culture, from the beauty of St Petersburg to the majesty of Moscow. Russia is a great place to be an international student, and is increasingly offering some groundbreaking courses.
How can you study a degree in Russia?
The options open to international students who want to study a degree in Russia can seem overwhelming. There are more than 600 state universities to choose from, as well as numerous private institutions all offering degrees of varying quality. In an effort to improve standards, the Russian government is investing 390 billion Rubles (US13.5 billion) in upgrading facilities and training staff.
Russian universities have recently seen a move towards more Westernized modes of education in an attempt to make its system more compatible with other European countries. Russia signed up to the Bologna Process in 2007, replacing its tradition five year educational model with a two-tiered approach: a four year undergraduate degree followed by a two-year Masters.
The vast majority of courses in Russia will be taught in Russian, so you’ll need to make sure that your languages skills are up to scratch before applying.
Russia is a relatively new destination in international education, so tuition fees have yet to reach the expense of many other countries. Fees vary depending on the institution you are studying at, but as a guide you should expect to pay between EUR2,500 and EUR5,000 a year.
The entrance requirements vary depending on the university and the faculty you are applying to, but are as in most places based on your previous grades, and sometimes and entrance examination and interview. Grades and transcripts must always be translated into Russian and notarized. Russian universities will often require non-native speakers to enroll in a Russian language course at the university before starting their full time studies.
The top universities in Russia have very competitive entrance requirements based largely on entry exams held each year. All students with a Russian citizenship must apply for studies according to the standard system, regardless of whether they live in Russia or abroad. If you have dual citizenship, you are able to apply as a foreign student using your non-Russian passport. The unified State Examination, similar to the SAT used in the United States will be in use all over the country by 2009, and will largely replace high school final exams and individually administered university admission tests.
Immigration and visas:
Russian visa requirements are notoriously tricky, so make sure you get as much information as you can before applying. All students will need a student visa to study a degree in Russia, regardless of nationality.
Your university can issue visa documents for you providing you fulfill the following:
You have a confirmed place accepted at the university
You have a certificate showing a negative HIV test
Proof of finances to cover the duration of your studies
You are no older than 28 for undergraduate degrees (35 for doctoral studies).
Accommodation and living costs:
Finding accommodation in Russia is not easy and can be very expensive, so most international students choose to stay on campus or in university halls of residence. This has the benefits of allowing you to make friends with other students, get support from the university and settle into Russian life more easily.
If you prefer to have a little more privacy or want to immerse yourself in Russian life, you should consider renting privately or even living in a home stay with a Russian family.
Living costs and rent:
Although Moscow has a reputation for a high cost of living, many other cities in Russia can be extremely affordable if you know what to look for. Public transport is cheap and convenient, bills are inexpensive and eating local produce will cut costs. You might find Russia surprisingly cheap.
As a guide, here is what you can expect to pay per month to rent in Russia:
1 bed city centre apartment – 25,000 Ruble
1 bed outside city centre apartment – 18,000 Ruble
3 bed city centre apartment – 45,000 Ruble
3 bed outside city centre apartment – 30,000 Ruble
For parents; how safe is Russia?
Safety in Russia depends on where you live, but in general crime is no more of a problem in Russia than in other major countries or cities. The issues of racism and homophobia continue to dog Russia’s image, but steps are being taken by the government and individual universities to ensure the safety of international students.
You should follow the safety rules you would take in any major city, such as keeping valuables hidden at night and making sure you are aware of your surroundings. Students should always take precautions to make sure they stay safe.
Students should take care to:
Avoid walking alone at night
Always carry a charged phone
Avoid potentially quiet/dark shortcuts
Avoid carrying a lot of cash
Let friends know where they are going
Always keep a close eye on personal belongings whilst out
Never accept things from strangers – whether this is a lift home or a drink