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Russia: New regulation allows foreigners to teach and conduct research without changing their migration status

Foreigners already in Russia for “business or humanitarian purposes” now have the right to teach in state-accredited academic institutions and universities. This easing of regulations with regard to foreigners working in Russian higher education institutions comes with the 13 April 2011 passage by the Russian Parliament of amendments to existing federal laws on the legal status of foreign citizens in the Russian Federation and on the regulations for entering and exiting the Russian Federation.

Russia watchers might view this development in one of two ways. On the one hand, the legislation can be seen as a low-key but positive nod to the importance of facilitating short-term visits to Russian higher education institutions by foreign specialists. Indeed, it paves the way for the payment of honoraria for the delivery of lectures or conference presentations, and also allows for involvement in research activities. Among the more optimistic, the mere fact that a federal legislative development has served to liberalise one aspect of Russian higher education community’s ability to engage internationally without simultaneously increasing bureaucratic burdens may be cause for significant celebration.

A more critical perspective would note, however, that substantial barriers remain when it comes to the ability of Russian universities to recruit and retain non-Russian staff in full-time positions. On average, Russian academic salaries are not internationally competitive, and the career track for those holding non-Russian PhDs is fraught with limitations. The Russian Federation has been sending clear public signals in the last couple of years that it is interested in raising the international profile and competitiveness of its institutions of higher learning. The newly enacted legislation certainly does not contradict these aspirations, but (at least in the short run) it is unlikely to make a widespread difference in the internationalisation of teaching in the country’s higher education institutions.

Council of Federation of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation (in Russian)