EEC Experts: Education Export Should Become a State Policy
A regular meeting of the Education Exporters Club was held at the University 2035 founded under the agenda of the National Technological Initiative on March 17. The meeting was constructive and, on the other hand, to some extent emotional — the issue of the current state of affairs and the prospects of the industry was discussed in all matters.
The participants of the round table assessed how all its integral parts see the situation on the market: representatives of leading Russian universities, heads of the largest recruiting companies, students and graduates of domestic universities, public organizations. The discussion was attended by:
  • Dmitri Nersesyan, Director of the Education Export Center, Deputy Head of the International Education Department of the Eurasian Peoples' Assembly;
  • Nadezhda Surova, Head of the Artificial Intelligence Project;
  • Boris Samaryanov, Managing Partner of Star Academy;
  • Sergey Krasnyansky, Director of ICEF in the CIS;
  • Evgeny Sagaidak, Head of International Relations Department, Novosibirsk State University;
  • Anicet Gabriel Kochofa, Director General of the International Coordinating Council of Graduates of Educational Institutions (Incorvuz — XXI), Associate Professor of Lomonosov Moscow State University, ex-Ambassador of Benin to Russia and the CIS.
A big part of the meeting was again devoted to working with recruitment companies, agents and educational consultants.
In Russia, agency work is most often free, even though not all universities use it. Someone did not have such experience at all, someone had it negative. There may not be any particular reason for choosing partners, they may be different. Nevertheless, recruiters help students and their families significantly, and there is no doubt that it is important to learn how to use this resource effectively. In addition, the importance of this action right now is justified by the fact that the world is emerging from the pandemic, and Russia has a lot to offer to foreign students, perhaps significantly more than many other countries.
Dmitri Nersesyan
Director of the Education Export Center
Having 20-year experience in this field, Sergey Krasnyansky made a presentation on ways of working with agents. He noted that many universities face the problem of foreign student recruiting, and not only in Russia, because they all compete with each other.
At the same time, there are several tools that make recruitment effective: state quotas, student exchanges between universities, as well as student communities, when students return to their country after graduation and share their impressions, acting as so-called ambassadors of the university. However, the most effective way is to attract international education agents (consultants). Such consultants are both individuals and organizations (recruitment companies or mobility agencies) that provide services for selecting a place of studying abroad. Advantages of attracting agents (companies) for universities are quick agreement making, information coverage, assistance in solving economic and legal aspects. And, most importantly, the agent (consultant) is the representative of the university in a particular country or region during the whole year.
Sergey Krasnyansky
Director of ICEF in the CIS
In addition, Sergey Krasnyansky noted that, despite the difficulties that have arisen with the intervention of the pandemic in the usual rhythm and style of work, there are also obvious advantages in the forced transition to work in the online format. Online meetings an exhibitions of universities allow to save money and time, and provide universities with the opportunity to get acquainted with 150, 200, or even 400 agents, get the necessary contacts, and, accordingly, continue to work on recruiting foreign students.
The lack of effective work of Russian universities in terms of promoting educational programs to foreign markets, weak international expansion, and the development of commercial activities is primarily noted by representatives of the industry business community.
We often come across commercial departments of state universities and notice that there is no further business than renting some stands at exhibitions. In one of the regional universities, the commercial department is headed by the head of the security service. In my opinion, commercial departments should be organized and operate according to the rules and laws of business.
Boris Samaryanov
Managing Partner of Star Academy
Truly, our universities today, for various reasons, cannot and do not know how to properly position themselves on the international market. There is also a lack of qualified personnel, and a general lack of understanding of how to present oneself in a particular region of the world — they are actually very different. It is difficult for universities to work without qualified assistance, which can be provided by international educational consultants. It is impossible to do without this resource. It is hardly possible to perform student engagement without the help of agencies. On the other hand, we all live under the federal law. The 44th law says that it is impossible for universities to pay funds to contractors without following certain bureaucratic procedures. They are as follows — up to 100 thousand rubles, you can sign a contract and pay the funds, over 500 thousand — you need to conduct auctions. This is where the problem arises. Even if we can be sure that particular recruiting organization is good enough, we can not be sure that it will win the tender, and vice versa — the winner of the competition for the right to provide services is not always a reliable performer in the part where it is claimed. Thus, legally, it turns out that universities that pay a commission automatically fall into a certain "gray" zone. Therefore, we are currently forced to pay no commission to the agents.
Evgeny Sagaidak
Head of the International Relations Department of NSU
Yevgeny Sagaidak also noted that, unfortunately, today there is no operator in Russia that would be engaged in centralized promotion of higher education abroad at the federal level. According to the experienced international expert, without such an organization, it is very difficult for universities to conduct effective promotion in various countries. "We have repeatedly raised this question over the past 10-15 years, but so far there is no result. And I adhere to the idea that labor should be paid, we should pay a commission, but within the framework of the current legislation in Russia, this is impossible, " Sagaidak said.
Aniset Gabriel Kochofa in his speech drew attention to the importance of the work of universities and recruitment companies in the export of Russian education.
International activity is one of the key areas of work of each educational institution. For 80 years, the Soviet Union, and now Russia, has been training specialists for foreign countries. This long and varied period can be divided into stages, each of which is characterized by its own qualities.
At the present time, when the world is on the second or even third round of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are considering the export of Russian education in new conditions and opportunities for recruitment companies.
The pandemic has seriously changed the way education services are provided. Last spring, the governments of 135 countries quarantined or closed all schools. It has affected more than 1 billion students worldwide. Universities also went into quarantine, switched to a distance learning format. We are facing a recession in education. Naturally, now we need to reconsider the approach to the education process, the process of recruiting applicants and take on a new challenge.
Anicet Gabriel Kochofa
Director General of the International Coordinating Council of Graduates of Educational Institutions (Incorvuz — XXI)
Nevertheless, the demand for education today is very high, and therefore, for successful development of this market, universities and recruitment companies need to consolidate their efforts. Appropriate legislative reforms are needed. We need competent solutions and help of national corporations and companies that operate in foreign countries. Active actions are needed to bring the educational market out of the crisis.
"The world is changing, and we are changing with it," Mr. Kochofa concluded.