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Russia: Project 5-100 doubles foreign students

International student numbers at universities participating in the government-funded project have nearly doubled in three years.
July 1 2016
2 Min Read

Three years on from its launch, Russia’s flagship higher education internationalisation initiative, Project 5-100, is beginning to see results, with international student numbers nearly doubling between 2012 and 2015.

International student numbers across the project’s 21 universities reached 4,700 in 2015 – nearly twice the number there were in 2012, when the initiative was announced.

“We see the effect on the people in the universities; they have changed their attitude so they also develop with the universities”

Speaking with The PIE News, the state-funded project’s deputy executive director, Nadezhda Polikhina, said the increase in international student numbers, along with an increase in joint degree programmes, international staff and faculty and foreign language-taught programmes, demonstrates the project is meeting its goals.

“We see the effect on the people in the universities; they have changed their attitude so they also develop with the universities,” she said.

The project was implemented in 2012, ostensibly with the goal of propelling five institutions into the top 100 ranked universities in the world, but its broader aim is to enhance the competitiveness of Russian higher education by strengthening areas such as international student and faculty numbers, international collaboration and research publications.

“[Rankings are] not the ultimate goal; the goal is to enhance competitiveness of the Russian universities around the globe, to improve the Russian educational system and to develop universities in Russia,” Polikhina said.

Since 2013, the project has supported universities with funding and training, as well as providing PR support and a national brand that is present at global events.

By 2015, universities had developed some 680 programmes in collaboration with foreign universities and research organisations, including double degree programmes and professional training, as well as more than 280 new study programmes taught in foreign languages, with the majority in English.

Internationalisation efforts have been supported by an increase in foreign faculty members, which have quadrupled on average across the universities since the start of the project.

The impact of support for research – including funding, training on publishing in English and guidance on how to identify quality journals to publish in – can also be clearly seen, Polikhina said, citing a tripling in the number of highly-cited publications by Project 5-100 faculty in journals which are among the top 1% and 10% of the most highly-cited publications in the world between 2012 and 2015.

“Part of the reason [Russian universities don’t tend to rank highly in league tables] is it is a big challenge to have publications in English, because historically Russian universities have publications only in Russian,” she commented. “Nobody knew the good results of the research.”

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