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Why International Students Are Choosing Russia

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Sponsored by Peter the Great St. Petersburg Polytechnic University

Soaring tuition fees and a sluggish job market in Europe are driving students to Russia, where over 5,000 international students enrolled this year to Peter the Great St. Petersburg Polytechnic University. Just in time for the release of the QS EECA University Rankings 2018, we looked at some of the factors behind Russia’s rise as a study destination for students with itchy feet.

Cheaper tuition fees and a more affordable cost of living

While US$1,000 a month wouldn’t quite be enough to pay for your rent and living costs in most European countries, you could get by in Russia on just US$430-580 a month, covering your dorm room, transportation and laundry, with money left to spare. Tuition fees are also very reasonable, with some courses costing from US$1,000 to US$6,000 a year.

Beating the cut-throat graduate job market

More people are beginning to realize that the experience of living abroad, not to mention language skills they learn in the process, will help to distinguish them from other new graduates.

Chinese international relations student Lee Zingchen said he is certain studying abroad in Russia has given her an edge over other applicants back home.

He said: “After graduation, I will return to China where the demand for specialists in cultural exchange and education is high due to fast economic growth. I am certain I will be able to have a job related to Russian-Chinese relations.

“I took a course in Russian as a foreign language at the Center of Russian as a foreign language of the Higher School of International Educational Programs where I studied with Irina Ivanovna Baranova and was able to improve my Russian in just six months.”

It’s worth noting Russian universities offer extremely effective Russian language courses to international students through University Foundation programs, which prepare international students for post-secondary education in Russian.

Japanese Russian Studies and Russian Language student Uta Hatakawa, 22, said he picked up Russian while studying at SPbPU: “I was interested in learning one more foreign language besides English. Hopefully, my Russian skills will help me find a job in an international company.

“I am happy living here, and have made a lot of friends among Russian students. They are kind and open-minded when it comes to expressing themselves.”

Russian universities are clambering up the rankings and offering courses in English

Competitive prices aren’t bringing the quality of tuition down either. Among the universities behind Russia’s reputation for excellence is the St. Petersburg-based polytechnic SPbPU, which has emerged as a leader in recent years in STEM subjects including energy technology, nanobiotechnologies, industrial and civil engineering, and ecology. SPbPU students also have the choice of being instructed in English or Russian or enrol in prestigious double degree programs with elite universities abroad like London City University in the UK, Lappeenranta University of Technology in Finland, Brandenburg University of Technology in Germany, and Leibniz University of Hannover in Germany.

A new way to travel if you can’t afford a gap year

Taking a gap year can be expensive and mean putting your career plans on hold, so it’s no surprise many choose to study abroad in order to work towards a goal and get to travel on weekends and holidays.

St. Petersburg is not exactly an unattractive destination either. It’s close to truly stunning spots like the magnificent Pushkin palaces or the Republic of Karelia, a popular touristic destination in the northwest of Russia, known as the “Land of Thousands of Lakes”.

Regional Studies student Lindsey Collier, 22, from the US, said: “I often go on excursions with my Russian friends - to Gatchina, Vyborg, Peterhof. During the summer I would also go on boat trips in St. Petersburg to gaze at the city.”

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