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Russia: int’l student numbers ‘grow’ despite war

The number of international students enrolling at universities in Russia is increasing despite negative publicity emanating from the country’s invasion of Ukraine, according to Russian State Universities organisation Racus.

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"The tragedy that happened with the Zambian citizen who lost his life while fighting in Ukraine has nothing to do with Racus"

The number of those enrolling grew by 9.8% at the height of invasion in 2022 for example, according to an official from the study in Russia organisation. The numbers overall have increased by 26,000 in the last three years, the organisation claimed.

Russia’s unprovoked and premeditated war on Ukraine has sought to destroying Ukraine as an independent state and led to the deaths of thousands of people.

About 400,000 foreign students study at Russian universities currently attracted by among other things affordable fees, plus over 1,200 programs in Medicine, Engineering, Economics and Humanities taught in Russian, English or French, Asya Manvelyan, student services manager – department of Middle East and Southern Africa at Racus, said.

The Kremlin has been criticised for spreading disinformation and propaganda to achieve its objectives.

“Russia is one of the leading countries in the field of international education not only because of the high-quality education but also because the Russian government annually awards up to 30,000 partial scholarships to foreign citizens who want to enter the universities of the Russian federation,” she claimed.

“Export of higher education is our key activity. In Russia education is not a business, but a humanitarian action, especially for African and other friendly countries,” she told The PIE News.

She defended the war, calling it an operation to save Russian people in Donbass. Russian-speaking residents in Donbas having been subjected to genocide is a common disinformation narrative, according to the OECD.

“Despite the enormous anti-Russian propaganda in social media, we hope that people in Africa are able to hear the other side and make their own choice,” she added.

“We are happy to see that at least regarding higher education, people are brave enough to put aside all prejudice and political views and choose Russian higher education recognising its quality and reliability.”

Currently she said some 30,000 African students were studying in Russian universities and over 100,000 African students ‘registered’ – implying they had applied for enrolment in universities and professional colleges, she explained.

“This information is after a personal meeting with the head of Racus organisation with one of the representatives of the Ministry of Education of the Russian federation,” when asked about the source of the 100,000 ‘registered’ students.

Russian universities could not be blamed for the recent deaths of two African students who died fighting alongside the country’s forces in Ukraine, she said, mainly because they had left the universities before their demise.

“Our key factors of the campaign targeted at Africa remain the quality and affordability of Russian higher education,” the official added.

“The tragedy that happened with the Zambian citizen who lost his life while fighting in Ukraine has nothing to do with Racus organisation or Russian higher education, at least because at that moment he was expelled from the university where he had studied because of breaking the law and was imprisoned.”

Racus still annually participates in different international educational exhibitions in the Middle East, Africa and Asia, including in Morocco in February, the upcoming EDUGATE exhibition in Cairo, Egypt and in Gaborone, Botswana, all in March.

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