Studying abroad is considered a good way to broaden your horizons, enrich your educational experience, improve your foreign language skills, build an international network of contacts and gain experience of living in another country. However, in recent years, more and more often one can hear the opinion that education abroad is no longer available to Russian students. Is it so?
Forbes Education turned to representatives of education agencies abroad for comments and found out what they are preparing for and what they predict, in which educational institutions Russians can now enroll and which countries continue to issue student visas.
Experts say that Russians can still enroll in almost all educational institutions in the world. There have been problems with coronavirus restrictions in the past: for example, Australia did not accept students for some time. Now, in most countries, special measures related to the pandemic have been canceled, there is no quarantine on arrival, and visas are issued as usual. China remains an exception: the country still does not accept foreigners. Many countries require certified coronavirus vaccination.
“All of our students are learning. Moreover, universities offer them psychological and financial assistance (to students from Russia, Ukraine and all CIS countries). Most of our students come to the UK, Germany, Austria, Italy, the USA and Canada,” says Alexey Gorulev, Head of Sales at Linguatrip.com.
“There are some private initiatives when a particular educational institution or association decides not to take more students from Russia and the Republic of Belarus. But there are still very few of them. I must say that on the contrary, we receive letters from our partners with assurances that any discrimination within the walls of their universities is unacceptable, and that students from Russia and the Republic of Belarus receive help and support on an equal basis with students from Ukraine,” comments Anastasia Kolvays, Executive Director international education agency Insight Lingua.
But do not forget that the admission of documents to some foreign universities, especially the top ones, the competition for which is very high, ends earlier than in the others, so Russian applicants can, as before, enter educational institutions where the application deadline has not yet passed . “That is, if you do not take world tops from the USA, Canada, Great Britain, then almost all the rest. Even programs in countries that have recalled ambassadors (the Czech Republic, for example) are still open to Russians with the proviso that at the moment only online education is possible,” explains Vyacheslav Lychagin, CEO of the Global Dialog agency.
According to Sofya Sazykina, General Director of SSA Education, most countries are actively cooperating with Russian agencies, despite the serious information struggle on the sidelines of the education industry , however, there are a couple of educational institutions that have frozen their interaction with Russian agencies. It is worth noting that the refusal to work with agencies does not mean that the educational institution stops enrolling Russian students – in most cases, you can enter the university directly.
Anastasia Kolweis comments on the current situation: “At the moment, we are aware of two countries that no longer issue any visas at all – these are the USA and the Czech Republic. All other destinations we work with continue to issue visas as before, with the same conditions that were introduced earlier due to the pandemic. Most countries that do not issue short-term tourist visas accept applications for long-term student visas.” A visa to the United States remains one of the most “problematic” for Russians, since you can sign up for a visa only in other countries, which are not so easy to get to. “Now our students receive visas to the USA through Poland, Serbia, Spain or the UK, the appointment for an interview there goes 2-3 months in advance. To get a visa and passport, you need to stay up to 5 days in the country of the interview,” Gorulev explains.
Vyacheslav Lychagin, said that Global Dialogue received a letter from the UK Visa Application Center, which emphasizes that “at present, decision-making takes much longer than the published UKVI * service standards.” That is, in fact, the consideration period takes from 6 weeks. The situation is similar with Canadian visas.
Russian agencies for foreign education see potential in academic programs: long-term language courses, university preparation programs, bachelor’s, master’s, long-term exam preparation courses. Most language schools expect enrollment to increase by summer 2022 ** .
“We do not see a drop in demand. The countries where students go will change. Previously, the Czech Republic was the budget destination, now Cyprus or the Emirates will become (there are quality programs from British universities in English in the UAE). Most likely, certificate programs will become popular, as it was at the beginning of the pandemic. Such programs do not lead to a degree, but are usually cheaper than a master’s or a bachelor’s year by 3-4 times. Most likely, hybrid online programs will also be popular, when a student completes a university preparation program online, at that time receives a visa, then comes to the country for the main program,” Aleksey Gorulev predicts.
“Now we are preparing proposals for training in alternative directions – in the UAE, Turkey, Asia and the Middle East. By the way, Hungary is also favorable to the Russians so far and the universities of this country offer a relatively inexpensive education in English. So, we predict a change in the direction of demand and a reorientation to other countries,” explains Anastasia Kolvays.
Vyacheslav Lychagin believes that the following forecast can be called realistic: “flights will be restored over time, currency rules will be relaxed, the exchange rate will stabilize, but economic difficulties, falling GDP, reputational losses can redirect the flow of students from Europe and America to Asia, and for our business the world will become different. Over time, I believe, we will return to the previous conditions, training will again become very popular.”
“The medal, as you know, has two sides. So the current situation has an “additional effect” – the current state of affairs and the difficulties that arise are pushing Russian students to develop the most important aspects of soft skills (soft skills) that are so highly valued now: for example, critical thinking and analytical skills, complex problem solving, flexibility , emotional intelligence and others,” Sofya Sazykina sums up.
Most foreign universities continue to enroll students, with some of them reporting increased demand. When choosing a university, applicants still pay attention to the cost, potential difficulties in obtaining a visa, the possibility of staying in the country of study after graduation and gaining work experience. As for the cost, some universities offer scholarships (up to 50%) to Russian students, thus returning the tuition price to the level that it was before the currency appreciation.