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Russia has adopted the Global Education programme, which will allow 3 000 Russian students to pursue graduate and postgraduate studies in the world’s leading universities. The aim of the programme is to boost Russian economy through highly skilled labour force educated in world’s best universities. The main areas of interest to the Russian government are the private sector, higher education and research, public service and social institutions. The emphasis is put on the global connectivity of public and private institutions in the country and this is where the benefiting students are to play the major role once they come back to the country.
Each selected student will be granted one-year support of RUB 1.5 million (around EUR 30 000) coming from the public funds. The overall amount dedicated to the programme is around EUR 1 billion for the initial period 2014-2017. Students who benefit from the programme will have the obligation to return to Russia after graduation and work in the country for at least three years. If they fail to do so, the generous financial support will have to be paid back in the form of a penalty equivalent to 200% of the tuition fee plus the amount of the tuition fee. Such a measure is to ensure that Russia does not suffer more brain drain than it already has and that qualified people strengthen the areas in need of skilled labour.
The list of eligible foreign universities where students will be able to study is not final but at the moment it consists of some 215 universities in over 20 countries with qualifications automatically recognised in Russia.
At the same time, the number of international students in Russia is going up and has tripled within a decade. According to the OECD, the number of international students in Russia in 2011-12 was 158 000, three times higher than in 2000-01. Most students come from the former Soviet Union countries and China. Over 90% of universities with internationalisation strategies and a large number having more than 5 international partners, together with large public funding allocated to international activities shows that Russia is indeed set on going global in higher education.