Novosibirsk State University: We Train Future Scientists Not Only Teaching International Students

26 October 2016 © NSU

Novosibirsk State University (NSU) is a classical institution renowned for its strong research. Evgeny Sagaydak, Head of International Relations Group, told us about international students in Siberia.

– Evgeny, how many foreigners are currently enrolled at NSU?

– The total number of foreign students, including those in joint programmes, last academic year stood at 1450 (and 700 of them studied on-campus). I think it’s a strong result, particularly given that the total number of students at NSU is 6,500. 

– What is your take on the 2016-2017 admission campaign?

– The campaign is not over yet. We are waiting for students supported by the Ministry of Education and Science as well as those qualified for English-language programmes. The overall number of foreign students who chose NSU has gone up in 2016. Certain disciplines have been particularly popular. For instance, we received 200 applications for 50 spots in our Medicine programme in English (thus our selectivity rate is 25%). We are training future scientists, rather than simply teaching foreign students, so their knowledge upon entrance is critically important.

By the way, our Medicine School has opened a Preparatory Department in response to the growing demand for medical degrees among international students. This year they are ready to welcome their first 40 students. Graduates of the PD can sit for the entrance examination and join NSU Medicine School as freshmen.

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– Do you have many programmes in English?

– We are currently offering eight Masters programmes in English: Big Data Analytics, Oil and Gas Management, Quantitative Economics, Financial Management, Residency in Dermatovenerology, Quantum Optics and Nano Sciences, International and Russian Business Law, Russia and the East: International Relations and Cultural Interaction. 

One of our objectives is to change the breakdown of our student cohort – we are trying to attract more foreign Masters and Post-graduate students using English-language programmes among other tools.

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– How many new foreign Masters students do you have this year?

– This year NSU got 43 state-sponsored spots as part of the governmental quota. We have already welcomed 29 students from China, Ghana, India, Vietnam, France, Lebanon, Colombia, Jordan, Sierra Leone and Saudi Arabia. We are waiting for the others. Note our collaboration with Heilongjiang University. For the 2016/17 academic year, we have 144 students from Heilongjiang (88 Bachelors for 1 year, 52 Masters for 2 years and 4 Post-graduates for 3 years).

– We know that you have several projects with Chinese partners. Can you please elaborate?

– Indeed, we have various collaborations with China. Let me tell you about three main ones: since 2011, NSU and Heilongjiang University have been taking part in a pilot project for training bachelor, master and post-graduate students. To that end, a Chino-Russian Institute (CRI) was founded in Harbin. Freshmen are admitted on the basis of their Chinese state exam results. Main subjects (Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Economics and Law) are read by NSU faculty in Russian. There are more than 800 students enrolled in CRI at the moment. 

We are jointly running a programme for training talented schoolkids. We also have a boarding school in Karamay with a special focus on Physics and Mathematics. Tutors there follow our curriculum as they teach Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry and Biology in Russian. Our plan is to admit 50 pupils to 2 groups (Physics&Math and Chemistry&Biology) this year. Graduates of joint education programmes will be eligible for entrance tests at NSU. 

Two Russian Centers have opened their doors. One in Urumqi, under the aegis of Xinjiang University. The other in Karamay, it’s affiliated with Karamay Vocational and Technical College. We are planning to launch a Russian-language prep school there. Having completed the prep school and a bachelor programme, Chinese students will be able to continue their studies at the Master level at NSU or other Siberian university.

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– What other regions are important to you?

– We are happy to welcome students from all over the world. As long as they can and want to study at NSU. Novosibirsk State University considers development of scientists and researchers its main objective. That’s why we place so much emphasis on recruiting talented kids who are capable and motivated to do research. Given our location, we are looking primarily at countries from Asia Pacific, Africa, SCO (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and China) and the Arab world. 

– What do you do in order to attract international students?

– We have a comprehensive approach: We run Olympiades abroad, publish updates on related websites, participate in various education fairs and exhibitions. I’d like to emphasize our cooperation with foreign universities: last year we had 119 overseas students in 29 joint programmes. For example, we provide individual scientific internships (for three, six or twelve months) within our 10 joint programmes with French institutions.

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– Does NSU provide grants to talented foreigners?

– Yes, we have a scholarship foundation to support them. Every department can also incentivize talented students by exempting them from tuition fees partially or in full. Tuition fees range from $4500 to $5200 per year, so you got to admit, this support is significant.

– What kind of admission advice would you give prospective NSU students from abroad? What should they do? Where do they start? What to focus on?

– First of all, you need to decide why you want to have higher education. Whether you want to do research, as this is one of the advantages of NSU. Next step – select an area. After that, contact the International Office at inter@lab.nsu.ru. Our staff will answer your questions about studying at NSU, safety, visa matters, etc. We try to respond to all queries within 24 hours and do not dodge any questions. We are located in Siberia, so many kids are concerned about climate, particularly winter temperatures. We frankly say that we have sub-zero spells, but that doesn’t mean that our students are cold. For example, a Japanese students sent us a letter after she returned home, saying “I felt sooo warm in Siberia!” In Russia, we have central heating everywhere, so it will be warm indoors and in public transit. 

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– Please describe the daily life of international students.

– All foreign students live in two-person studios in new dormitories equipped with all the essentials. We have two gyms and a large pool. Various sports clubs are available. Moreover, builders tried to preserve as many trees as possible, so the campus is very green, it’s almost like a forest. Environmental conditions are good, the air is great, so you can walk or jog in summer and ski in winter.

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– What are the advantages of NSU for foreign students? 

– One cannot find a better place to study if she wants to do research and become a scientist. That’s what Academgorodok is famous for! We have 2,500 faculty for 6,500 students. 90% of the former work in research centers of the Russian Academy of Sciences. As a graduate of NSU, I can assure you that we have preserved academic traditions. In the first years, students attend lectures and build up their fundamental knowledge, and later start working with their scientific advisers – there are 45 research institutes around the university. In short, come to NSU if you want to have high-quality education and practical experience, if you want to take part in real research even as a junior student and work with outstanding scientists.

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