Siberian Federal University (SibFU) is located in the city of Krasnoyarsk, beyond the Urals Mountains. Established in 2006 in a merger of four universities, SibFU offers a broad range of education programmes. In this interview, Vera Upirova, Deputy Vice-Rector for Science and International Affairs, tells about the life and studies of international students in Siberia.
– Vera, how many international students are enrolled at SibFU?
– In total, we have 692 students from 38 countries enrolled in our main programmes and at the preparatory department. They have come from overseas and neighboring countries, mostly from Kyrgyzstan, China, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. There are kids from Latin America and Europe. We have students from Vietnam, Japan and Iraq. We even have 25 students from Jamaica studying non-ferrous metals and material science. We have many large industrial partners such as Russian Aluminum. We are training future talent for their subsidiary in Jamaica. We are planning to broaden the swath of countries and regions our students represent and bring the total number of international students to 3,500 by 2020.
– Please name the most popular disciplines among foreign students.
– Oil and Gas Engineering, Mining and Applied Geology, Metallurgy, Environmental Management, Economics, Linguistics, Russian as a Foreign Language.
– How many international students got tuition grants for the 2016/17 academic year?
– 35 grant holders joined the preparatory department, 22 and 8 started their Bachelor and Master programs, respectively.
– How do you recruit international students?
– We send our faculty teams to the CIS countries (primarily Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan) to conduct Olympiads for prospective students. We also participate in education and career fairs and publish articles about SibFU in various education portals.
– Please describe the Olympiads open to foreign nationals.
– In January we hold an online Olympiad (in Russian) for international students called Taiga Challenge. Top three contestants will be admitted to SibFU straight away. In 2017, we’ll start running an Olympiad in English.
– Does the university offer grants to gifted foreign students?
– Yes, several options are available. First, there are scholarships available for PhD programmes, we currently offer 6 PhD programmes in English. Secondly, we are launching now a programme of small grants for international students designed to support the most talented ones. Such small grants will not cover tuition fees in full but will still be tangible.
– Please elaborate on SibFU Preparatory Department.
– Our preparatory department is called International Education and Certification Testing Center. About 80 students from various countries are currently enrolled there at a Russian as a Foreign Language programme. They also study relevant subjects in Natural Sciences, Engineering, Humanities and Economics. Applications can be submitted as early as February if you want to join the group that will start their studies in the second semester. Courses run for one semester but can be extended if needed. All relevant information is available on SibFU’s website, there you can also submit an online application. Prospective students can always email us – we try to respond within two days.
– Are Russian language courses offered only at the preparatory department?
– Yes, we offer 12 summer schools. In 2016, a total of 450 students, including 90 foreign nationals, took part in these camps; 61 lecturers from universities outside Russia were invited. We have held schools in Law, Ecology, economic issues, Biodiversity, economic and biological aspects of biopreservation, Electrical Engineering etc. I believe we will hold them again in 2017. We’ll open for applications in April, an announcement will be posted on the university website.
– Are summer schools run in English?
– Yes, most of them are. The Law school is an exception – it is held in Russian, German and English, because we run it together with our long-standing Bavarian partner University of Passau. It is a Russo-German comparative law school.
– Does SibFU offer long-term programmes in English?
– Yes, we have three English-language Master programmes in Biophysics, International Banking and Petrochemistry. We’re planning to launch three more programmes in 2017/18 academic year — Technosphere Safety in the Arctic, Dendrochronology (tree-ring research) and Applied Computing in Engineering. Also the 6 PhD programmes I mentioned: Biophysics, Metallurgy of Non-Ferrous Metals, Multidimensional Complex Analysis, Optics, Quantum Chemistry, Urban Design and Planning.
– Please describe the city where SibFU is located.
– Krasnoyarsk is a city in central Siberia; voted one of the ten most attractive cities for tourists, it has everything one needs for a life of comfort. It also boasts very beautiful nature – the Yenisei River splits Krasnoyarsk into two parts. Several reserves in Krasnoyarsk suburbs are well worth a visit.
– What are students’ living conditions like?
– We have a new and modern campus, our dorms were recognized as the best ones in Russia in 2015. International students stay in flat-like facilities (2-3 students per flat). Their kitchens and rooms are well-equipped in terms of furniture, cooking utensils, appliances and linen, so students’ living expenses are minimal. There is a laundry service in every dormitory. Our campus is quite expansive as it includes 68 buildings in 4 neighborhoods. This is because SibFU was created through a merger of several universities. SibFU has a modern library, considered the largest in Siberia. Overall, students love it here.
– And what about the cold? You are in Siberia, aren’t you?
– All students adapt well to the local climate, although some come with little besides sweatshirts, so we have to help them get warm winter clothes. By the way, it sometimes gets hot in summer here.
– How do you onboard international students?
– Members of our Social and Cultural Adaptation Group get in touch with every student prior to arrival and discuss all the details. They meet every student at the airport, transfer him or her to the dormitory (free of charge) and help with registration. In the orientation sessions scheduled for the student’s first week in the city, we will tell where to exchange foreign currency, shop for groceries, have lunch, how to navigate the campus etc. We also have a group of volunteers who support international students during their time in Krasnoyarsk. By the way, any student who finds herself in an unforeseen situation can apply for one-off financial aid.
– What kind of events are held for students at SibFU?
– Every year we hold a city-wide youth event called ‘Student Community Without Borders’. International students present their national cuisines, costumes and cultures. They also take part in other university events, such as Freshman Day (held in September), New Spring festival, Asking for the Floor show competition etc. SibFU is recognized as one of the most sportive universities in Russia, it boasts an Institute of Physical Education, Tourism and Sport, swimming pools, large arenas and soccer fields. Lots of sports events are organized for students. By the way, we will host World Winter Universiade in 2019, so preparation is already in full swing.
– What kind of admission advice would you give to prospective SibFU students from abroad?
– Admission campaign starts in April and ends in mid-July. Make sure to apply in time. Sometimes we receive applications past all the deadlines, even in September or October when groups have already been formed. Make sure you bring all the required documents with you. For instance, students sometimes forget official academic transcripts which hinders recognition of their diplomas. If you follow these hints and prepare well for the entrance tests, admission to SibFU should not be a problem.