Friday, July 29, 2016

80 Percent of Foreign Students in Russian Higher Educational Institutions from Former Soviet Republics

Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 29 – Russian officials are proud that their country continues to attract foreign students. This year there are some 237,500. But four out of five of them – 79 percent – are from former Soviet republics and less than one percent are from Western Europe and North America combined.

            Those statistics are provided by Aleksandr Gromov of Moscow’s Higher School of Economics in a new article ( that is summarized at

            He points out that more than a third of the foreign students in Russian higher educational institutions come from a single country (Kazakhstan) which supplies 36 percent of all of them. Students from Uzbekistan and Ukraine form 11 percent each.  Half of the students from beyond the borders of the former USSR come from Asia, with slightly over half of these from China.

            Two-thirds of the foreign students pay for their coursework and so represent an attractive catch for these institutions, Gromov points out.  Those who are in Russia on scholarship are “typically people from the former union republics” rather than from what he and other Russians still call “the far abroad.”

            Just over half of the foreign students – 52.3 percent – are in undergraduate programs. Thirty-eight percent more are in specialist training programs that may or may not lead to a degree. Ten percent are in masters’ programs. The most popular fields of study are medicine, economics, administration, and the humanities.

            The foreign students in Russia are highly concentrated in the two capitals and in a small fraction of the higher educational institutions of the country: Eighty percent of foreign students are enrolled in ten percent of these higher schools.  The leader, with more than 5,000 foreign students, is as was the case in Soviet times, the Russian University of Friendship of the Peoples.

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