RUDN: Russia’s Most International University

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Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia was established in 1960 as a higher education provider for international students. RUDN Vice-Rector for International Affairs Larisa Efremova tells about the advantages the university offers to students.

– How many international students study at the university?

– We have more than 8,000 international students from 155 countries. This year1, 3,644 applicants had been admitted; of those, 1,952 are contract students and another 1,692 have been awarded Russian government scholarships. Foreigners make up approximately 30 percent of the student body; we plan to increase their share to 40 percent by 2020. Overall, there are 31,766 students currently studying at RUDN and its branches.

– What are the top origin countries for international students at RUDN?

– They are China, Iran, Vietnam, Afghanistan, South Africa, Namibia, Nigeria, Syria, Mongolia and Ecuador. As for CIS countries, many students come from Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Azerbaijan, Ukraine, Turkmenistan and Moldova. In 2017, RUDN admitted the first students from Honduras and Saudi Arabia.

No two intakes are ever the same. The number of applicants from subsidised countries is affected by changes in their domestic economic situations. Some countries are stable though: last year, South Africa requested us to provide training to more than 140 students at RUDN Agrarian-Technological Institute and Institute of Medicine. We also have an agreement with Namibia and Angola to train their students in medical specialties. Of the 8,000 international students at RUDN, more than 1,000 came from Africa.

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– What are your priority regions?

– Originally, the university was established to train specialists for Africa and Latin America; these regions remain important to us. They are now more focused on their health care sectors; we’ve recently signed an agreement with the Dominican Republic on medical internship for their students. We also have a contract with Ecuador and interact with Chile which is interested in exchange programmes. On top of that, RUDN offers education opportunities to students from Asia and the Middle East. Europe does not have top priority, but we’ve had an increasing number of students from that region thanks to cooperation with European universities in developing and implementing joint education programmes. We collaborate with European countries having government scholarship quotas. For example, the number of Bulgarian students has increased thanks to our vigorous cooperatiion with that country over the past two years. RUDN has recently launched cooperation with Greece.

– What are the most popular majors international students choose to study?

Medicine is traditionally the most popular field, with Medical Care and Dentistry being the most sought-after majors. Economics, Law, International Relations, Philology, Civil Engineering and Oil and Gas Field Development are popular too.

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– What do you do to attract international prospective students? 

– We meet with prospective students and their parents to present study in Russia and living conditions long before opening applications. Our teachers travel to partner universities to read lectures showcasing our university. We disseminate RUDN-related information through our alumni associations and social media. RUDN holds presentations, “round tables” and meetings at foreign embassies to highlight our education opportunities. To promote our university, we designed a cluster interaction system.

– Could you elaborate?

– This is how it works: we pinpoint several countries in the region as our entry points. For example, we signed an agreement with Zambia’s Ministry of Higher Education and launched a Russian language and pre-university training centre in that country. The Centre is a convenient study location for young people from Zambia and neighbouring countries such as Angola and South Africa. After completing pre-university training, they will be able to come to Russia to continue their education. This policy increases the share of students from that region. We have developed cluster systems for Africa, Latin America and the Middle East. On a global scale, these forms of cooperation are rare because the technicalities are quite difficult. There are large countries such as China where the cluster method doesn’t work.

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– How do you attract prospective students from China?

– The Chinese Education Ministry enrol quota students through their agencies with the assistance of Rossotrudnichestvo (Russia’s Federal Agency for the Commonwealth of Independent States, Compatriots Living Abroad, and International Humanitarian Cooperation) and the Russian Embassy. Also, China supports the academic competition “Time to Study in Russia”. In China, we launched a Russian language and pre-university training centre under the aegis of Dalian University of Foreign Languages. We also enrol students through recruiting agencies and promotion tours: RUDN staff visit schools in Chinese provinces and take part in education fairs such as China Educational Expo.

– What other education fairs do you take part in?

– In December, RUDN representatives usually go to Latin America, and in the spring, we join CIS countries’ education fairs. RUDN participates in QS World Grad School Tours; in 2017, it was the only Russian university to take part in these promotion events in India, Malaysia, South Korea, Turkey and Japan.

– What Olympiads do you offer to international prospective students?

– We hold Open RUDN Olympiads for foreign nationals. Olympiad 2017 covered maths, physics, biology and Russian (for prospective philology students). In 2016 and 2017, RUDN representatives went to the countries that hosted the Olympiad; we plan to arrange online academic competitions in the future; a special website is in the works. The Olympiad is primarily meant for bachelor students who are our potential masters candidates.

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– Could you tell about the Preparatory Department for foreigners?

– Preparatory Department (faculty of Russian Language and General Educational Disciplines) provides training in Russian and the basics of future profession. Tuition fee depends on the programme the student plans to take. We admitted more than 1,000 people to the Preparatory Department this year, but their number might increase as RUDN is implementing a flexible pre-university training policy, so more students might join later. Length of study is three semesters for the students who arrive after 1 December; over this period, learners can become proficient enough in Russian to commence basic programme studies. The students who complete preparatory courses have more majors to choose from because Russian-taught programmes outnumber English ones.

– How many programmes taught in foreign languages do you have?

– We have 73 programmes in English and Spanish; 35 master’s programmes, three specialist’s degree programmes and 35 PhD programmes.

– Do you hold summer/winter schools?

– Yes, of course. We have a Russian language school as well as schools focused on humanities and social science; our Agrarian and Technological Institute runs a joint school together with Lebanese University. The physics, maths and natural science faculty is vigorously promoting short programmes.

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– Does RUDN have grants for talented students?

– The university offers various incentives to students such as grants to Olympiad winners. As a rule, we select the first 15 most talented applicants, i.e. those with the highest score. This year, we selected students with good Russian skills. A monthly grant of 25,000 rubles ($416) is paid throughout the first semester. Some 60 grants are paid to masters students from leading foreign universities who come to study at RUDN. Every year RUDN hosts a meeting of A-level students who participate in a car lottery. Among other incentives are tuition fees at discount rates for contract students, the opportunity to take examinations without attending lectures, discounted tickets to the cinema, museums and theatres and covering of competition and concert participation expenses.

– Could you give an overview of RUDN infrastructure?

– The campus includes teaching blocks, dormitories, cafes, shops, an outpatient hospital, sport clubs and societies and courts. RUDN operates 18 dormitories; a new dormitory is currently under construction. According to our tenancy rules, a dormitory room is shared between representatives of different countries who necessarily include one student from the host country. Despite cultural and religious differences, this arrangement facilitates better adaptation.

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– What advice can you give to international prospective students?

– First of all, read the information about RUDN carefully to get an idea what it’s like. A prospective student should know what he want to be and whether he’ll be a demand for his future profession in his country’s labour market. Most importantly, he should have stable motivation to get higher education in a foreign country.

– What advantages does RUDN offer to international prospective students?

– RUDN is a classical university with an impressive range of majors. We have an international atmosphere making students from any country feel comfortable. Also, they have the opportunity to connect with representatives of practically all countries of the world. And of course, they can get quality education at RUDN.

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