Russian varsities targeting West-bound Indian students

February 19th, 2008 - 10:16 am ICT by admin  

By Manish Chand
Moscow, Feb 19 (IANS) Buoyed by its economic resurgence, Russia is now seeking to lure a chunk of the US-bound Indian students to what it professes are its “world class” business schools, and is flaunting its universities for their proven strength in engineering and natural sciences. “Many of our universities are world class. We want more Indian students to study in Russia,” Evgeny Butko, deputy head of the Federal Agency of Education, told a visiting IANS correspondent.

“We will promote Russian education and universities in innovative ways in India. Russian universities are promoting high-quality education. Indian students have a lot to gain from studying in Russian universities,” he said in his elegant office housed in the ministry’s Soviet-era building.

“We have more courses on maths and sciences. Russian education is very strong in engineering and natural sciences,” he said.

“This is just the beginning,” said Butko, adding that Russia is not averse to organising special education fairs along the lines of other countries like the US, Australia, Britain and New Zealand that have found thriving business in India.

Russia plans to hold a multi-city youth festival in India starting in April in New Delhi where university officials will showcase attractions of studying in their country.

Butko said that top Russian education professionals are fully aware that the US is a favourite choice for Indian students for higher studies, but hints that Moscow will soon be giving tough competition to Western countries to attract talented and well-off Indian students.

Pointing out the dramatic transformation of the Russian education system in the last few years, he said a new resurgent Russia, with its economy ready to embrace the world, can now offer top quality courses in business management that can match up to the most prissy B-schools in the US.

“Moscow Business School and St. Petersburg Business School are world-class,” he said proudly, adding that MBA courses are a new rage in a market-friendly Russia.

The Graduate School of Management (GSOM) at St. Petersburg State University, an offshoot of Russia’s oldest university (founded in 1724), offers an executive MBA for Russian managers modelled after American B-schools.

Next year, it will launch a full-time, 16-month MBA programme taught entirely in English and will be located in a new campus on the former palace grounds that was once home to the Russian royalty.

Moscow School of Management brought in American business guru Jack Welch last year to teach a class to Russian business managers. Skolkovo, as it is also known, plans to launch a one-year MBA programme next year.

A raft of American and European business schools are partnering with Russian management schools that should serve as an added attraction to Indian students, a Russian official pointed out.

Business courses are, however, new attractions of studying in Russia, a country that boasts of some of the grandest universities, public libraries and monuments dedicated to writers and astronomers.

Russia has proven prowess in fields like aviation, engineering, aerospace and medicine. The language barrier diminished Russia’s attractiveness as a destination for higher education in the past, but now many Russian universities are offering courses in English, especially in fields like medicine.

Lower fees than in other developed countries (it costs less than $4,000 a year for overseas students), fewer qualifying exams, and the attraction of a foreign degree make Russia a viable education destination for many aspirants from India.

Indian students account for nearly 10 percent of the around 100,000 foreign students in Russia. In 2004, around 1,000 Indian students enrolled for medical and engineering courses in Russia.

The US, however, continues to be a favourite with Indian students. Over 80,000 Indian students are currently studying in the US. Nearly 25,000 Indian students go to study in Australia every year.

Russia still has a long way to go to be anywhere in that league.

(Manish Chand can be contacted at manish.c@ians.in)

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