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International Students at Russian Universities

International Students at Russian Universities
© LETI

Russia is a sought-after study abroad destination for many young people from across the world. This article names the countries of origin, Russian universities and professions popular with international students and gives an idea of tuition fees.

Russian universities admit an increasing number of international students. In 2015/2016, this country was providing training to 200,000 foreign nationals, in 2016/2017 to 230,000 and in 2017/2018 to 257,000. The figures show that the number of international students increased by 22 percent over three years. The number of universities that provide training to international students has increased from 693 in 2016/2017 to 703 and now makes up nearly 92 percent of 766 universities currently operating in Russia1.

Origin countries

Russian universities are popular in many countries; the Commonwealth of Independent States accounts for a majority of applicants: in 2017/2018, 136,090 CIS nationals studied in Russia. Kazakhstan was the top country of origin with 41,285 applicants, followed by Turkmenistan (22,093), Uzbekistan (16,954) and Asian countries (64,621). In 2017/2018, every fourth student hailed from the Asian region with China being the top origin country (29,172) followed by India (13,176) and Vietnam (4,758). Also, many students traditionally come from Iran, Mongolia and South Korea.

Russia is a popular study abroad destination in Arab states of North Africa and the Middle East which accounted for 22,180 people in 2017/2018. Most students came from Iraq (4,438), Egypt (3,763), Morocco (2,869) and Syria (2,752). Other African countries added another 14,589 people, up 1,500 from the previous year.

Europe, with a stable interest in higher education in Russia accounted for 11,884 students at Russian universities. Italy, Germany and France were the top origin countries. More students have been arriving from Latin America (Argentina, Bolivia, Venezuela, Brazil, Colombia, Cuba, Mexico, Peru etc.). A total of total of 5,339 people came from this region in 2017/2018, a 21 percent increase year-on-year.

Where foreigners study

Prospective international students often enrol at universities of Moscow and St Petersburg (20.5 percent and 8.7 percent of all international applicants, respectively). As for Russian provinces, the Volga region and Siberia account, respectively, for 15.8 percent and 11.5 percent of all international students. Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia, is the most international university providing training to 14,896 foreign nationals, followed by St Petersburg Polytechnic University (5,928) and Kazan Federal University (5,564).

The most popular professions

A large choice of professions and programmes is one of the advantages of Russian universities. You can be trained for nearly every profession in Russia. Our universities turn out specialists needed across the world.

Engineering professions are traditionally popular with international students. They are a frequent choice of young people from the Commonwealth of Independent States and Asia. In 2017/2018, 6,899 people chose construction technology, 6,104 mechanical engineering and 6,041 electric and heat power engineering. Russia’s best engineering universities include National Research Nuclear University MEPhI, Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (National Research University), National University of Science and Technology MISIS, Saint Petersburg Electrotechnical University “LETI”, ITMO University, Peter the Great St. Petersburg Polytechnic University, National Research Tomsk Polytechnic University, Samara University and South Ural State University.

Medical professions are second in terms of the demand. In 2017/2018, there were 53,500 international students (20.8 percent of all foreign nationals) on medical majors at Russian universities, up 7,700 from 2016/2017. Medical students mostly come from Asia (17,248), Africa and the Middle East (12,569) and CIS (16,430). Medical programmes are available at I.M.Sechenov First Moscow Medical University, Kazan Federal University, Immanuel Kant Baltic Federal University, Novosibirsk State University, Lobachevsky University, People’s Friendship University of Russia, Far Eastern Federal University etc.

Economics is the third most popular field. In 2017, 31,500 foreign nationals (12,3 percent of all international students) came to Russia to study economics. The top regions of origin were the Commonwealth of Independent States (18,058), Asia (8,592) and South Africa (1,751). Quality economic education is provided by Higher School of Economics, Siberian Federal University, Tomsk State University, University of Tyumen, Ural Federal University etc.

Tuition fees at a Russian university

More than 60 percent of international students in Russia are on self-funded programmes. Training in prestigious professions is much cheaper in Russia than in the United States or a majority of European states. The minimum fee for bachelor’s degree programmes at engineering universities is 126,500 rubles ($1,946) a year, and the maximum is 632,000 rubles ($9,723) a year2. Medical students pay 196,000 rubles ($3,015) to 617,500 rubles ($9,500) a year for specialist programmes. Fees for bachelor’s programmes in economics vary between 99,000 rubles ($1,523) and 550,000 rubles ($8,461), depending on the university.

Our website lists the best Russian universities which are part of the 5-100 Russian education promotion project. Each university section provides information on accommodation for international students, the events organised by the university, its positions in international rankings and education programmes. Create a personal account on our website to contact or apply to the university you’re interested in. University representatives will reply to you within ten workdays.

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