Graduates who fail to return to Russia will be required to pay back the funds and a fine that could amount to twice the amount of the scholarship
Funding for the Global Education programme may be available later this year, although the decree allows the Russian government a three-month window from the date of the signing last December to finalise details of the programme.
Facing a skills shortage, the programme aims to bolster Russia’s workforce, particularly in areas such as science, education, government, social services, medicine and engineering.
Applicants who plan to focus on studying robotic technologies, drone engineering and medical technologies are particularly welcome, Dmitry Peskov, director of the Strategic Initiatives Agency’s Young Professionals programme, told public radio station Vesti FM.
The funding plan mirrors a similar initiative repealed late last year after doubts the students would return to work after studying were expressed by members of the government.
Similar to the previous funding initiative, the government is expected to allocate around 4.5 billion rubles (US$133.3mn) to the programme, which was developed by the Ministries of Economic Development, Education and Finance, with support from the Agency for Strategic Initiatives and Russia’s Harvard Alumni Club.
Students who have completed a bachelor’s degree at a Russian university will be able to apply for a grant of around 1.5 million rubles ($45,000) to study on a master’s, PhD or post-doctoral programme at one of around 200 universities listed in the Times Higher Education, Shanghai University and QS world rankings.
The programme stipulates the graduates return to Russia to work for three years. Those who don’t will be required to pay back the funds, along with a hefty fine that could amount to twice the amount of the scholarship they received.
“I think it is extremely unlikely that talented people would come back and do something useful for the country”
The initiative has attracted some criticism, with the deputy of the Russian government’s lower house Ivan Grachev telling Russian newspaper Pravda that he believed it would be difficult to enforce the penalty and ensure that graduates return.
“I think it is extremely unlikely that talented people would come back and do something useful for the country,” he said.
“I do not support this idea because the Russian education in engineering, physics, and science is one of the best in the world,” he added.
Last year the country extended its efforts to attract top talent by relaxing regulations around foreign degree recognition and easing the visa process for foreign lecturers.