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Russia in renewed drive for African students

The Russian Federation is shrugging off bad publicity resulting from its invasion of Ukraine, to launch an aggressive campaign targeted at African students, using the possibility of working part-time during studies among other incentives to win them to its universities.

Among African students, Morocco leads in the number of learners in Russian universities with 3,200 enrolling in 2020/21. Photo: pexels

Some 27,000 African students were enrolled in higher education in Russia in academic year 2020/21

The country’s Study in Russia initiative is being run in mainstream and social media platforms in different African countries, wooing students to join its institutions ahead of admissions and commencement of studies in October this year.

The group of 20 Russian state universities through their destination Russia agency Racus is also using the fact that studies are available in both English and French, the main international languages in Africa as a plus. This it says will save students up to a full year they would spend learning Russian, the main as a foundation course.

This is besides the ‘low’ fees of about US$1,650-4,000 a year charged, and a would be simplified procedure for “obtaining Russian citizenship” plus visa-free entry to nationals from over 130 countries of the world.

The fees, Racus says, are dependent on the program undertaken, the individual university and interestingly, the language of study, in what it describes as “20 of the best Russian state universities”.

“Every day we work with dozens of applicants from Kenya and their parents, therefore we always have up-to-date information in the field of higher education and know what issues concern you,” says one such a message tailored for Kenya attributed to Racus group director Avbakar Nutsalov.

“We follow innovations and global trends in order to offer you the best in Russia and take all the administrative responsibility to ensure 100% admission to the university.

“Higher education in Russia is the gold standard of world science,” the director claims, in reference to the more than 500 medical, engineering, economic and humanities programs the universities offer.

For 30 years, he says, Racus has been offering consultancy services to prospective students, supporting them with a range of services for planning their education in leading state universities from enrolment to graduation.

“We are always ahead of the expectations of our applicants and their parents, taking care of them from the initial consultations to graduation, always doing more than what is expected from us.”

“We are always ahead of the expectations of our applicants and their parents”

Despite past reported incident of racial discrimination, hate and violent attacks on African students in Russia, Racus says in its prospectus that it guarantees “favourable and tolerant environment for communication and intercultural exchange” for students.

Other incentives cited as reasons why the Africans should pick Russia as a destination include, “globally recognised diplomas”, and promises that 90% of professors have PhD qualifications, and guaranteed accommodation at student hostels during the entire period of studies.

Racus consists of universities situated in different cities including Moscow, Saint-Petersburg, Nizhny Novgorod, Tambov, Saratov, Novgorod the Great, Astrakhan, Pyatigorsk and Stavropol.

Some of the universities most popular with Africans include the North-Caucus Federal University, the Novgorod State University, Tambov State University, Pyatigorsk Medical and Pharmaceutical Institute, Saratov State Medical University, Platov South Russian State Polytechnic University and Astrakhan Medical State University.

Some 27,000 African students were enrolled in higher education institutions and scientific organisations in Russia in academic year 2020/21, according to market and consumer data company Statistica.

The North African country of Morocco leads in the number of learners in Russian universities with 3,200 enrolled during the period, followed by Nigeria, Cameroon, Zambia and Kenya, with 900, 700 and 200 learners respectively. However, Racus cites the number of Kenyan students in Russian institutions at 1,000.

In 2019, Mikhail Kotyukov, minister of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation reported that African students in its universities had hit 17,000 owing to deliberate efforts to raise the figures to Soviet-era levels.

Russia hosted over 315,000 international students in 2019/20, making up approximately 8% of all students in the country, with the majority from neighbouring countries.

Racus did not respond to requests for comments from The PIE.

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