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Foreign students are willing to study and work in Russia

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Foreign students are willing to study and work in Russia


Applicants of Russian universities in the Russian House, Tanzania. Photo courtesy of the Russian House in Dar es Salaam

866,342 people came to Russia for studying purposes, according to the Ministry of Internal Affairs in 2022. Our regional universities actively inviting students from abroad. The Peoples' Friendship University of Russia (RUDN) named after Patrice Lumumba remains the leading higher education institution in the country for international students, as it was when it was founded in February 1960.

Young people from 160 countries study here. They experience an everyday cultural exchange and mutual enrichment, develop unified scientific approaches in different fields of knowledge. This is especially important in the economy, when the usual liberal-monetary model is collapsing and a new one needs yet to be developed. The example of the RUDN students shows why young people from all over the world come to study in Russia and whether they want to stay here to live and work.

All the students I was able to talk to during the Scientific student conference and the Russia-Africa inter-university forum had roughly the same answer to this question. Russia, according to Africans, has one of the best educations for science, medical and engineering fields. In addition, it is not as expensive as in European countries or the United States. The labor market in Russia is becoming more and more attractive, and more and more graduates consider to work in Russia as the best option for them. At the same time, the Russian language often becomes a stumbling block for many students.

Cultural context

The basic language of instruction and international communication at the RUDN is Russian. However, there are six UN languages used at academic conferences. Thus, the student conference World Economy in the XXI Century: Globalization and Regionalization sessions were held in Russian, Spanish, English, Arabic, French, and Chinese. However, the following informal dialogue Russia-Africa: Economic Education without Borders, was in Russian. For African students who speak several European languages, Russian in some way becomes a language of international communication. It is interesting to observe when students who make scientific reports in different languages, answering questions or discussing topics between themselves, switch to Russian for better understanding.

RUDN is unique for socio-cultural environment that creates a free, informal opportunity for cross-cultural communication is what, according to the students. The Russian Language Institute helps establish linguistic communication between people from different countries. What is especially surprising to them is that many of their Russian friends speak their national languages in addition to Russian. In this, Russians are very similar to Africans: different tribes speak their native languages, but the national language is one of the widely known European languages.

If you ask what is the most difficult thing about learning Russian, mostly you hear: its figurativeness. Of course, immersion in the language environment significantly reduces the level of misunderstanding. But the cultural context is just as important.

In normal everyday conversation, Russians laugh or respond to popular phrases from Soviet or Russian films. It is difficult for foreigners to understand the context of the humor that makes their Russian friends laugh. For example, the long ornate corridors of the university evoke an association with one of the characters from a popular 1980s movie Charodei (The Magicians). A group of students escorts participants of the Second Informal Forum Russia-Africa to the conference hall, and one of Russians tells them: "Don't leave me alone, or I'll walk here and shout 'aw, people!” Then another students explains the meaning of humor to her classmate from Egypt. He smiles politely, showing that he appreciates the joke. But "aerobatics" in student humor is an appropriate use of proverbs and idioms. By their final year of undergraduate study, most students are doing just fine.

Employment opportunities

The majority of respondents mentioned the lack of recognition of Russian diplomas in their countries as a hindrance to the development of student and research exchanges and the increase in the number of foreign students. The problem is solved by intergovernmental agreements, which sometimes take more than one year to prepare and sign. It is much easier to find a job with a diploma from a Russian university in Russia. If one is not afraid of the Russian winter, the students from the South joke. Young people from Africa set an example of courage.

According to the Migration Department of the Ministry of Interior, last year there were 38,885 Africans in our country. The vast majority of them have possessed study visas. Several thousand Africans one way or another are planning to tie their lives with Russia. 1,338 natives of Africa have received a temporary residence permit, 1,994 have acquired a residence permit. 319 used the work permit, 874 people received citizenship of the Russian Federation. Despite the fact that the average annual temperature in Russia is -5 degrees Celsius, not all natives of hot southern countries are frightened by the cold weather. The state of the labor market, where the staff shortage is growing, inspires optimism. And the statistics, that was presented to the participants of the Informal Dialogue Russia-Africa, confirms this.

Russian regions are looking for specialists in IT, mechanical engineering, freight and automobile transportation, water supply organizations, specialists in the field of natural sciences and engineering. For example, 2,000 doctors of various specialties are needed in Kuzbass. Yakutia needs qualified personnel in the mining and extraction industry, agriculture and animal husbandry. The shortage of workers in the Chelyabinsk Oblast industry is approaching 20 thousand, and St. Petersburg needs about 10 thousand workers.

The number of vacancies for foreign applicants in Saint Petersburg has increased by 23%. The city has even created Profreserve: Russia – Africa program, that aims to create an informal dialogue between Russia and 54 African countries in the field of education and job placement. This talent pool brought together Russian students willing to go to work in Africa and foreign graduates hoping to find work in Russia. There is another agency at Nizhny Novgorod that was launched to help find jobs to foreign students that study at local universities. So a foreign specialist with a Russian diploma will always find a job in Russia if he wants to.

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