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Putin plans to fund top students abroad

Russian president-elect Vladimir Putin plans to offer grants to Russian students to enable them to study abroad at the world’s top universities. If the programme goes ahead, areas of specialism prioritised will include higher education management, state and municipal administration and high-tech companies, according to news source RT.

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"By 2020 we must build a chain of world class universities here in Russia"

“Under this programme, anyone enrolling at a foreign university to study a subject we need, can apply for a loan covering tuition fees, accommodation and meals,” Dmitry Peskov, from the Strategic Initiatives Agency, said. “If they return to Russia and work in their field for at least three years, they won’t have to pay it back. But if they don’t want to return, they’ll have to pay back the loan plus interest.”

Students already accepted to top ranking universities in Russia will be eligible. The state will have no part in overseeing university admissions, it says, which will prove its efforts transparent ensuring that not just children of state officials are sent abroad.

“If they return to Russia and work in their field for at least three years, they won’t have to pay the loan back”

The programme is expected to kick off in 2013, with an initial class of around 1,000 students. In 2014 and 2015, it could extend to 2,000. Once the programme proves effective, it will continue after 2015; however organisers say it is a temporary move to use the knowledge gained abroad to improve the Russian higher education system.

Students chosen by the programme will also be expected to keep a blog while studying and later during their subsequent job.

Last month in a meeting with Russian university rectors, Putin reported that federal spending on higher education had doubled in the past five years.

“By 2020 we must build a chain of world class universities here in Russia. We are actively working on this now,” he said.

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