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Tomsk Polytechnic University: an Engineering University with More Than 100 Years of History

Tomsk Polytechnic University: an Engineering University with More Than 100 Years of History

National Research Tomsk Polytechnic University (TPU) is a leading Russian technological university. Established in 1896, it is in the Top 10 Russian universities and among the world’s best 400 universities. Head of the International Recruitment Department Stepan Buikin tells about TPU intake and study specifics.

– How many international students study at TPU?

– TPU has 16,000 students overall; international students number more than 4,000. Of those, some 3,000 are residents of former Soviet republics, the rest have come from other foreign countries.

– What countries are your students from?

– They mostly come from Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Moldova. We have many students from China, India, Mongolia and Vietnam. Africa is amply represented by the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Republic of the Congo, Zambia, Nigeria and Ghana. Latin America is represented by students from Columbia and Ecuador. TPU international community brings together students from more than 50 countries. Many foreigners are quota students; part of them enjoys grants allocated by corporations such as Rosatom, Gazprom and Rosnano. These corporations identify priority fields and the countries they are interested in and we work with students from those countries providing dedicated training.


– What national colours would you like to see at TPU?

– We’re particularly interested in China, Vietnam, India and Mongolia: the university has strong research ties with them. Africa and South America are on the list of strategic interests of our partners Rosatom, Gazprom etc. TPU works with prospective students from Armenia, Georgia, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan; these countries know and appreciate the quality of Russian engineering education.

– Do you have programmes in English?

– Yes, we have several: two bachelor’s programmes (Mechanical Engineering and Computer Science) and nine master’s programmes (Informatics and Computer Science, Electronics and Nanoelectronics, Oil and Gas Field Development, Mechanical Engineering, Biotechnical Systems and Technologies, Electric Power Engineering and Electrical Engineering, Nuclear Physics and Technology, Material Science and Technologies and Software Engineering). The most popular are nuclear power installations, informatics, biotechnology and oil and gas field development. TPU recently launched Biotechnical Systems and Technologies programme in English. We train engineers specialising in medical and biology equipment. The field proved to be very popular, especially with Indian students. They want to enrol in this programme in English from the beginning, in order not to waste a year at the preparatory department.

– Could you tell more about the preparatory department for foreigners?

– TPU provides pre-university training in five fields of study: engineering and technology, physical sciences, economics, medical biology and humanities. Each discipline prepares the student for enrolment in a specific programme. Simultaneously, they can study Russian or take a preparatory course in English if they plan to pursue studies in English. We have unique teaching methods, effective even for students who only speak their national language. They, too, eventually master Russian or English. TPU plans to set up preparatory departments in priority countries; negotiations are underway. Looking ahead, the university would like to launch training of first- and second-year bachelor’s students there.


– Do you have dedicated preparatory departments for bachelor’s degree and master’s degree?

– Yes, we do; there is also one for postgraduates. Under the law, the research project has to be in Russian, though the thesis can be defended in English. This requires the postgraduate student to take a Russian language examination.

– Do preparatory studies last a year?

– We have several courses varying in length. The first is a 12- or 18-month course; students come to TPU at the beginning of the academic year; at the end they take examinations to enrol in basic education programmes. The second is a Russian languages course (usually combined with training in a subject such as physics). Students receive private tutoring lasting one to six months.

– Do you have summer/winter schools?

– We run short summer programmes every year. Winter schools start in January and summer courses in July; length of study is three weeks. To apply, select a programme and fill out a form on our website. Short programme is a full-fledged education process for participants who take examinations and get a certificate. We promote our schools as training with immersion into national culture not as leisure time combined with schooling. The cultural and entertainment programmes we arrange are always interesting featuring local ethnic and folk music groups. Summer school students largely come from Europe, South Korea and sometimes from the United States. The Japanese have been increasingly interested recently. Coming to TPU is no small feat for them. Just for fun, we even made T-shirts with inscriptions reading “I was in Siberia; bears are not walking in the street there,” and “I was in Siberia and stayed alive.”


– Does TPU provide extra grants to talented international prospective students?

– Yes, it does, the sum of the grant is subject to approval in the begging of each academic year. Your First Success academic competition is another incentive for international students. The awardees are eligible for several funding options: a 50-percent discount on preparatory department fee or a 10- to 20-percent discount on basic programmes.

– What do you do to attract prospective students?

– We participate in international education exhibitions in former Soviet republics and other foreign states such as India and China. TPU also takes part in the Time to Study in Russia academic competition in foreign countries and holds a contest of its own “Your First Success;” we visit schools and colleges to promote our university. In India, we present TPU master’s programmes to local students and involve them in Your First Success contest; its results equal TPU entrance tests score. This is a convenient arrangement because prospective students do not have to come to Russia to take entrance exams. Also, many prospective students hear about TPU through the grapevine or from their friends who earned their degrees from TPU and liked the university.


– Could you tell about the city where the university is located?

Tomsk, a city in West Siberia, was founded in 1604 on Boris Godunov’s order. It is a scenic city, there is a hill over the river where Cossacks built the first stronghold; it has been renovated recently. Tomsk is called a student city; it has a population of 500,000, of those, 75,000 are university students. We have six universities and some 50 vocational training colleges. Many universities were established in the 19th century; each has its own history and traditions. At the same time, Tomsk is a dynamic youth city with many cultural pursuit options. I’d say Tomsk is an interesting mix of old-style academicism and modern trends. Also, we have beautiful scenery around. Forests and the river are right outside the city.

– Do you have entertainment and discotheques?

– Of course! Several TPU students from African countries are DJs at local night clubs; they work almost like professionals. TPU administration together with students organises various events all the time, such as Polytechnic Student Day, Student Day, Nationalities Day; we also mark national holidays of different countries.

– Can students go in for sports at TPU?

– Yes, there are many opportunities. Two years ago, a world class swimming pool was built. Russia’s national swimming team sometimes uses the facility for training sessions. Each dormitory has fitness halls. TPU has more than 20 sport societies; there are divers, gliding, mountaineering, speleologist, tourist and car drivers clubs. Those interested in arts can join the Diamant club (ball-room and modern dancing), the KVN wits and humour school, opera and classical music lovers club, Peresek folk music group, vocal jazz studio and theatre and photography societies. As you see, students have many options to realise their potential.


– What accommodation does TPU offer to international students?

– We have 13 dormitories; four are allotted to international students. All facilities are closely spaced: the halls of residence are next to the teaching blocks. Monitors are appointed to watch order on each dormitory floor. Each education centre has a residence hall assigned to it. They form clusters in accordance with TPU specific structure. The TPU campus is arranged on the cluster principle.

– Do you support the new arrivals?

– TPU has International Students Adaptation Office. Its staffers meet the newcomers, explain the basics and help take out insurance, buy a local mobile operator SIM card and open a bank account. In the first few weeks they get the lowdown on campus life and are shown around. The city has German, Tartar, Uzbek and Mongolian cultural centres, nine overall, as well as Armenian, Georgian, Chinese, Vietnamese and Indian communities. TPU has Vietnamese, Chinese, Mongolian and African peoples communities, they closely interact with the city communities and support their fellow countrymen.


– What TPU enrolment advice would you give to international prospective students?

– First of all, I’d recommend the students seeking Russian government scholarship and planning to participate in quota selection to get ready in advance for this complex procedure, starting with filling out a form and preparing the required documents. Study contract students should carefully prepare university admission documents; it is very important. Admission requirements are available on our website; you can e-mail your requests for details to TPU International Service anytime. Sometimes, students who come for enrolment encounter problems because their documents have not been drawn properly.

– What advantages does TPU offer to international prospective students?

– There several key points which TPU students are quick to note themselves: the university provides quality education, high-level tuition and internships at partner universities both in Russia and abroad. Students have a busy extracurricular life with many opportunities to pursue sports and arts. The university is located in a pleasant and calm city with a rich history and culture and friendly natives. TPU has created a comfortable environment for studying and living: come see for yourself.

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