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RUDN University promotes ideas of internationality and diversity

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RUDN University promotes ideas of internationality and diversity


Svetlana Smetanina

60 years ago, an unusual university was established in the Soviet Union. It was named the Peoples' Friendship University of Russia, also known as RUDN University, where students from countries of Asia, Africa, Latin America, and Middle East could go into higher education. Today, 200,000 RUDN University graduates work all over the world. And they all recall their alma mater with gratitude. Vladimir Filippov, the Rector of RUDN, spoke to the Russkiy Mir about history of the unique university.

– Ideas of internationality and diversity are at the very heart of RUDN University, says Vladimir Filippov. Since its first days, it has ensured the possibility to study freely and do research out of politics and under conditions of equality. The university has always provided students from Asia, Africa, Latin America, and Middle East with knowledge. Representatives of 47 countries received diplomas at the first graduation ceremony. Currently we teach nationals of 158 countries, and 200,000 of our graduates work all over the world. They are professionals and leaders in medicine and politics, construction and economics, agronomy and diplomacy... They speak Russian, promote Russian technologies, and respect our culture. In early February 2020, when the Peoples' Friendship University will celebrate its 60th anniversary, thousands of guests — our graduates and friends will come to Moscow.

The rector of RUDN University, together with students, lays the foundation stone of the hostel, March 2017. Photo credit: Press office of RUDN University

In the 1990s there were noticeably fewer foreign students coming to our country for studies. Was RUDN University affected by such situation? And how did you manage to overcome that crisis?

In 1993, when I became the rector, there were a total of 6,700 students at RUDN University, both Russian and foreign. And now we have 33,000 students. I can’t say that reduction in number of foreign students at our university could be considered as a crisis in the 1990s. There were a few dozen people less region-wise. Number of students from Africa decreased, while number of students from Arab countries even increased. It was not an easy decade, and back then the main tasks were to provide a high-quality educational process and decent working conditions for employees. However, it was the very period of time that taught us to find new sources of income. Those were the years when RUDN University shifted to a new level of development - the university of entrepreneurial type.

Speaking of students who currently study at the university where do they come from? Are there any significant changes in their geography comparing to the Soviet time? Which countries are the leaders in numbers of students?

There were no nationals of countries from Western Europe or North America at RUDN University during the Soviet period. And now there are just as many students from Europe as from Latin America. The top 10 non-CIS countries by the number of students include China, Iran, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Namibia, South Africa, Syria, Mongolia, Nigeria, Ecuador. And the geography has been expanding - last year, citizens of Niger, the Netherlands, Suriname, Timor-Leste and Croatia came to us for the first time. However, we currently focus on quality of foundation that the prospective students have rather than on number of foreign students. So we do search for talents around the world. We were the first to conduct academic competitions for foreign schoolchildren and bachelors - 9,000 people from 29 countries have already taken part in them. We opened 30 specialized classes and 6 Russian language centers in 22 countries so that applicants there could prepare for studies at RUDN University.

In the Research and Educational Center of RUDN University. Photo credit: Press office of RUDN University

Nowadays, Russian universities have been set the large-scale task - to double the number of foreign nationals studying in Russia. How does RUDN University solve this problem? In your opinion, what factor is critical when a foreign student chooses a university today?

Russian scientific schools of mathematics, physics, chemistry, medicine, and engineering are renowned throughout the world. High quality of Russian higher education is guaranteed by the state standard. At the same time, each year Russia allocates 15,000 quotas for foreign students, and a contract price at Russian universities is much less than the cost of a higher education at most top world universities.

By 2024, the number of foreign students in Russia should double indeed. Experience of RUDN University is of current interest - we share it with leading Russian universities. We have been implementing three lines within the Export of Education Priority Project of the Education National Project. Last year, five resource centers for Russian education abroad were opened; algorithms and principles for conducting academic competitions and summer schools for foreigners were proposed.

Graduation ceremony. Photo credit: Press office of RUDN University

What professional fields taught at the university are in high demand among foreigners?

Here are the top 10 programs of RUDN University by the total number of foreigners enrolled: “General Medicine”, Dentistry, International Relations, Economics, Law, Linguistics, Management, Philology, Construction and Oil and Gas Engineering. More than 4.5 thousand foreigners study these fields.

What conditions are foreign students provided at RUDN University? Is the task of their integration in Moscow resolved successfully?

Most of issues with integration are of domestic, bureaucratic, and psychological nature. RUDN University has the system, which includes mentoring, tutoring, student organizations and helps in getting directions within Russian reality, getting acquainted with Moscow and the university. Having arrived to the airport, foreign first-year students are welcomed by their fellow countrymen who help them to get settled in the hostel and do the paperwork. RUDN University has its own passport office, clinical diagnostic center, and bank branch; so many issues can be resolved within the campus. Then, the student is assisted in adjusting to the academic load and cultural differences.

African students. Photo credit: Press office of RUDN University

At the end of 2019, RUDN University announced establishment of Russian education resource centers network in other countries. Please tell us about this project and its goals.

Resource centers have been established as part of the Export of Education Priority Project. The first such centers were opened in Bulgaria, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Tajikistan and Turkey. They represent a new form of pre-university training for applicants within the framework of Russian-language schools abroad. Additional classes in chemistry, physics, mathematics, biology, and Russian language will be held there. Leading Russian universities unite into a consortium to develop training programs in two versions: basic (at the level of the RF state standard) and advanced (academic contest level). The resource centers will help to draw attention of foreign applicants to Russian higher education and identify gifted schoolchildren to invite them to Russian universities. By 2024, 50 such resource centers will be established.

RUDN University Alumni Associations have been established in different countries of the world. What exactly do they do and how successful are they in helping to attract new students?

RUDN University has 59 Alumni Associations abroad. The university finds partners in the respective countries, executes new agreements, and implements educational, scientific and industrial projects through such Associations. RUDN University is also the first Russian university to initiate the establishment of the Alumni Business Club, the International Club of Employers and the International Diplomat Club of Alumni and Friends of RUDN University. They help organize practical trainings and internships for our students, help them with employment.


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