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The goal of Project 5-100 is to maximize the competitive position of a group of leading Russian universities in the global research and education market.

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Russia Maintains Open Borders for International Students

January 10, 2018

Moscow, Russia: For the second year in a row, education as a national brand has become a deal-breaker in Russia. The borders are open to attract great talent that is diverse enough for globally minded universities today. Educational institutions are inward-looking organizations in this country and a place that could benefit and share in a nation’s excellence.

Russian education is punching above its weight more than ever before, from Russia’s leading universities and their growing institutional reputation, visibility and competitiveness (often symbolized by their position in university rankings), and competition for talented students and scholars, to institutional improvements.

Yet there has been a new acknowledgment in Russia that higher education is becoming one of the most competitive industries with rapidly escalating demands for greater regulation and empowerment.

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law extending the period of temporary stay in Russia for foreign citizens studying in this country. The amendments to the federal law on the legal status of foreign nationals concern the extension of the period of temporary stay in Russia for  all international students admitted to a foundational course or a preparatory faculty (section/department) until their main full-time/part-time state-accredited educational program (main course of study) at a state educational institution is completed. If an international student wishes to transfer to another institution in Russia, that student will be able to stay in this country until the completion date of his/her course, when the university expects an international student to have completed all required elements of the course and is the same for all students in that course. The same is true for any international student who has completed a preparatory course at an educational institution and is enrolled at another state educational institution in Russia. Universities take all the responsibilities as a host, including the extension of the period of temporary stay for their international students.

Since 2010, there has been a notable spike in the number of foreign students choosing Russia as a place to study, said Alexander Sobolev, director of the Department of State Policy in Higher Education of the Ministry of Education and Science. About 243,000 international students studied in Russia in 2017, Sobolev continued. “This number has almost doubled since 2010. Our goal is to increase the number of international students to 710,000 by 2025. Under its Academic Excellence Initiative, known as Project 5-100, 21 leading Russian universities are giving close attention to internationalization, and they have a key role to play in this process. These universities now account for 20 percent of all international students enrolled in Russia’s state universities (this figure does not include branch offices),” Sobolev said.

The reasons are many. There are excellent universities - in 2017, 31 universities were in the top 500 (THE, QS, ARWU-, 15 of which are Project 5-100 participants, 11 in the top 100, six of which are Project 5-100 universities), foreigners studying in the country’s universities can defend their theses in their native language rather than in Russian, and new visa regime amendments that make it easier to study here. And it has something to do with what is called internationalization, when universities deem globalization and quality education to be for the many and not for the few.