What to do?
For many foreigners, Russia is still a place where they would like to live and work. And studying is just a means, one of the links in the chain of steps towards a better life.
"In recent years, Russia's reputation as a country worth going to for education has grown significantly, and the numbers of foreign listeners and students confirm this. Based on available research, we can assume that Russia is interested in foreign citizens, first of all, as a country where you can get a high-quality medical education for a reasonable price, and, secondly, as a country that can give the opportunity for career or business development: about 30% of all students of preparatory faculties in Russia study the language precisely for this purpose," said Nikita Strelchuk, Director of Academic Relations at the Education Export Center.
However, foreign graduates have many difficulties due to the special aspects of Russian legislation. And not everyone manages to solve them, even the most talented and persistent ones are often unable to do so. As a result, many leave, despite the fact that they would like to stay in our country.
"We do a lot to promote the employment of foreign students in Russia through specialized events and ensure that companies are ready to hire foreigners. However, there is a barrier in the legislation itself: the study visa expires, foreign students are forced to leave the country, get the employment visa, and only after that they can work in Russian companies. And due to the current logistical difficulties, this becomes a super task even for the most motivated graduates and employers," says Anton Podshivalov.
On July 14 of this year, the federal law "On Amendments to the Federal Law "On the Legal Status of Foreign Citizens in the Russian Federation" and other legislative acts of the Russian Federation" was signed, making certain changes to the situation of foreign students of Russian universities. In particular, it introduces the concept of the temporary residence permit for obtaining education for the entire duration of training, gives three years after graduation for submitting documents for the residence permit, etc. However, most of the provisions of this document will become valid since January 1, 2023.
In addition to the legislative ones, there are other problems that need to be solved. In relation to universities, this is, first of all, a slow adaptation to changing conditions. "Universities also have to realize that foreign students can and should be assisted in finding a job. Not every university decides to introduce these students to companies that search, for example, for Russian trainees. They just need to learn how to communicate with the business world and offer such solutions to internationally oriented companies," Natalia Neporada believes.
There is another side of the coin: the social one.
"We understand why our students rush to other countries. There are higher standards of living and more opportunities for professional self-realization. If we want them to stay in Russia, we must ensure a higher standard of living and employment opportunities here. This is not a question of universities, but of the quality of life in the country. Until we solve this problem, it will be extremely difficult to solve the problem of brain drain. If we want people to go to Russia, like in the era of Peter the Great, and not to flee from here en masse, like in the early Soviet years, we need to continue lifting restrictions on the acquisition of the residence permit and citizenship for people who have graduated from Russian universities. Yes, we are doing a lot, but this is clearly not enough," says Oleg Smolin, First Deputy Chairman of the State Duma Committee on Science and Higher Education.
In addition, not all universities have managed to organize this year's admission campaign with a focus on new markets. As a result, experts predict a reduction in the number of international students this year. However, they consider this a temporary phenomenon, and believe that the we will be able to change the situation in the next academic year.
A look into the future
Russia needs to enter new markets as soon as possible in search of foreign students, especially since there is interest in our education there.
Evgeny Sagaidak, Head of the Department of Education Export at Novosibirsk State University, notes that in recent years the number of students from the Arab world, Central Asia, Southeast Asia, and Africa has already increased.
"The university is actively working to attract applicants from these regions, and is developing joint educational programs with universities in China. The rapidly developing educational markets of the countries of the Asia-Pacific region with a high demographic potential and a growing demand for education in the field of fundamental and applied science become a promising area," he said.
"We can say that the whole world is promising for us. At the same time, much depends on the industry. For example, if we are talking about the oil sector, we will talk about countries that have deposits. If we are talking about IT, then those countries where this sphere is not yet well-developed are more promising for us," Natalia Neporada believes.