Want to learn to speak Russian? Do you have Russian in your blood, family living in Russia or perhaps a special friend who is a Russian native? Or perhaps you just love languages and feel that learning Russian is a good next challenge for you?
The best way to learn Russian is with immersion, this is true of the languages of different countries and is no different for Russian. But how do you take the leap and take yourself off to this fascinating and very different country? Well, that all depends on your age and level of study.
If a young student travelling with your family then you will likely seek information about enrolling at a school or college in the area which you are moving to. As in most large cities, you’ll be sure to find international schools that can cater to your learning needs as a foreigner with little or no knowledge of the lingo. Yet, however daunting it may be, sometimes getting thrown in at the deep end can really speed up the learning process so don’t rule out a Russian school… if they have the means and the will to take on new non-Russian speaking pupil.
If you are the parent of children, about to take them out of their schools and on a Russian adventure, then note that a six-year-old will probably be more adaptable than say a twelve-year-old. The younger the child, the more confidence and the fewer inhibitions they have (in most cases) which means that they are able to practice and pick up the language much faster.
If you want to study in Russia whether in a university, with a host family or as part of an exchange program. Russian is always easier to learn if you are in contact with the locals, especially if you are living in Russia and are surrounded by Cyrillic.
Russia is a country that fascinates as much as it intrigues. To realise your dream of foreign study, you must apply to the university, be accepted, get your student visa, find your living accommodation, book your flights, move to Russia and of course make sure that you have paid for your studies. If you do not have eligibility for internships or scholarships, then you need to convert your money to spend in the local currency rubles.
So the challenges that can be faced while in the University application stages, language learning stage and student visa application stages can take some time. But generally, it does not really put many people off as the benefits of studying in Russia are so high. Especially as Russia welcomes more and more foreign students each year.
Stay in the home of a local Russian family. Photo Source: Unsplash
Transfer Wise confirms that: “Pre-school is optional in Russia, although many families do sign their children up for state or private kindergartens. Compulsory schooling starts aged six and runs for 11 years, after which students can choose to remain in an academic school, take vocational training or leave education entirely.”
When it comes to the structure of their day, kids can expect to start school at 8am and finish at 1 or 2pm. Students usually attend class 5 days a week, although some schools require extra study on Saturdays (much like in the UK with some boarding schools). A typical class lasts 40 to 45 minutes with a 5 to 15-minute break in between sessions.
Russia is one of the cheapest places in the world to study at around £4,500 per year (research by FAIRFAX currency exchange). This means that international students can acquire prestigious diplomas for a fraction of the price of a course in their hometown. But is this enough of an incentive to pack your bags and move to a different country? Some would say, definitely yes!
The tuition fees at Russian universities are the lowest in the whole of Europe, meanwhile, the quality of education is on par.
Full-time international students are offered the same variety of benefits as Russian students, which is quite astonishing when you consider that some landmarks and attractions charge tourists more (sometimes even double the price of a local person’s ticket) to enter. Incidentally, some institutions encourage talented overseas students to come and study their curriculum, offering further discounts on tuition fees. This, of course, makes sense because it means that the best students are helping to raise their profile as prestigious places to study.
When enrolling on a Bachelor’s degree in Russia, you can expect to pay around 180,000-200,000 Rubles (the equivalent of approximately £2,200-2,500) per year. You can then follow this up with a specialist degree (around 200k Rubles), normally after five years of relevant education, or a Master’s degree programme (costing on average 220-240 thousand Rubles).
Postgraduate study also comes in at around 240-260k Rubles per annum.
Don’t be fooled into thinking that you have limited choice when it comes to studying in Russia. They have a huge number of reputable universities (keep reading to discover more on this) as well as a range of subjects on offer at all levels of study: undergrad, postgrad, etc…
You can choose to study Russian, sign up for a Bachelor or BA degree with honours, a doctorate, a masters degree program, attend specialized training or you can enroll on a professional training course in Russia.
There are approximately 800 universities across the country from Moscow and Saint Petersburg to Vladivostok, let’s take a look a total some of the top establishments.
First off, prospective students should know that Russia has one of the fastest growing economies in the world and is keen to internationalise its education system, this investing in the development of university curriculums and offering financial support to certain overseas pupils.
According to the Top Universities website:
”There are 24 universities in Russia featured within the QS World University Rankings® 2018, 10 of which are placed among the top 400 universities worldwide. Russia also boasts a substantial presence in the QS EECA University Rankings, a ranking of the 300 leading universities in emerging Europe and central Asia, with a whopping 95 Russian universities currently featured.
Over the past decade or so, higher education in Russia has undergone significant change, with 390 billion rubles (~US$6.7 billion) allocated between 2011 and 2015 for upgrading facilities and technical equipment at Russian universities, and improving training for teaching staff.
Additionally, in 2003, Russia signed up to the Bologna Process, pledging to bring its system in line with most other countries across Europe. This means many universities in Russia now offer a choice between a four-year bachelor’s degree and a five-year specialist degree. Russia’s higher education system was ranked 26th in the world, in the first edition of the QS Higher Education System Strength Rankings.
Lomonosov Moscow State University (Lomonosov MSU) is Russia’s highest-ranked institution, topping the table of the QS EECA University Rankings for the third year in a row. Lomonosov Moscow State University has a current enrolment of 47,000 students, of which 7,000 are undergraduates and 4,000 are international. Academic areas at Lomonosov Moscow State University are wide-ranging, with a total of 380 departments, 39 faculties, 15 research institutes, four museums and six branch campuses in Russia and abroad.”
The same website lists the following establishments as the most popular for foreign students:
Novosibirsk State University
“The best-performing Russian university under 100 years old, Novosibirsk State University was established in 1959 and is ranked second in the EECA rankings. Famed for its rapid rise in reputation, Novosibirsk State University has a fairly small student community (6,000). It’s located just outside of the city of Novosibirsk, Russia’s third most populous city after Moscow and Saint Petersburg. While less internationally known than these two, Novosibirsk boasts thriving cultural and nightlife scenes, making it another attractive option for prospective students.”
Saint Petersburg State University
“The oldest and one of the most prestigious universities in Russia, Saint Petersburg State University is ranked fourth in the EECA rankings as of 2018. Founded by Peter the Great in 1724, Saint Petersburg State University has a student population of around 30,000, of which around 3,000 are from outside Russia. Spread throughout the city of Saint Petersburg in over 400 buildings hosting 25 faculties, Saint Petersburg State University provides students with access to the city’s great array of museums, monuments and arts venues. Vasilievsky Island (in the historic city center) and Peterhof (a southwestern suburb) are where the university’s main two campuses can be found.”
Tomsk State University
“Ranked 11th in the 2018 EECA rankings (up from 20th in 2016/17), Tomsk State University is the oldest university in the Asian region of Russia, having been established in 1880. It currently has around 23,000 students in 23 faculty departments, and according to the most recent QS World University Rankings by Subject, is ranked in the top 300 in the world for modern languages and physics and astronomy.”
Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology State University (MIPT)
“Ranked 13th in the 2018 EECA rankings, Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology State University (MIPT) was founded in 1946 and has a unique education system in which students commonly conduct their research outside the university. MIPT is ranked highly in the subject ranking for physics and astronomy as well as for the broad subject area of natural sciences. It has a current student enrolment of almost 5,700, and its alumni include many notable scientists, physicists and politicians.”
When it comes down to it, we cannot convince you with facts and figures alone that studying in Russia will be a great experience for you, you need to go and live and discover this possibility yourself.
What we can say with confidence is that the cross-cultural experience of studying in Russia will be very enriching due to the country’s unique culture.
For instance, did you know that the bloodiest siege in the whole of history was fought right there in Russia during the Second World War?
Or that Russians still celebrate historic Pagan holidays?
You may be interested to know that ballet is a form of Art that originally came from Russia…
and that Vodka, their most famous alcoholic beverage, is actually made from fermented potatoes!
Your visa is essential for all parts of life in Russia. Photo Source: Unsplash
If you take your entire degree in Russia, it may not have the same weight and the same degree program in the UK. You must understand this before studying, or maybe you will find that you have a masters degree that is equal to a bachelors degree upon your return home.
To get a good idea about the life of a student in Russia you can meet people on Facebook, via your school’s exchange program and speak to alumni who have returned, you can even search for blogs of the international student and learn about their experience to prepare for the trip. Whatever you choose, ask questions when you can and soak up everything that you need to know.
The questions you could ask:
Make sure you have enough money to cover your entire study program
Rough expenses to cover your costs:
To apply for a visa you need to provide a list of documents. Photo Source: Unsplash
If you decide to study in Russia you will not be disappointed as it is very affordable, well renowned, offers a huge number of courses and… well, it is Russia.
To choose your university, here is a table of the best Russian universities to study in and an example of the course and disciplines:
There are courses to cover all interests such as
You will need to apply for a visa, and for this, you need to provide the following documents:
To arrange to stay in the home of a local Russian family, it would be best to go through your university approved list first. Of course, if you are going to live with a family, you want to be sure that they have been vetted and approved. You should also make sure that the family has some kind of references to show that they have experience as hosts and the kind of experience other students have had.
The worst thing would be to fly to Russia and find yourself living in a place that isn’t suitable for you. Things such as loud environments that disturb your studying or exams etc. may be a problem that could affect your studies. This is going to be the time of your life, but you should take some care of making your selection.
Of course, there are many options for student housing in Russia, not just homestays.
A benefit however of learning Russian with locals makes learning to speak easier and faster. Even more than with private teachers because you are surrounded by Russian every day not just in class a few times a week. For native Russian speakers, hosting a foreign student is a winning option! Before looking for your Russian host family, it will be necessary to determine the nature of your stay:
As well as your university there are specialized agencies that will help you to find a host family. If you are not using your university be careful as scams do exist.
Being fully immersed in the Russian Federation, as a student in a program or as an independent student will be a life-changing experience. Ready to try the adventure? Book the ticket and become multilingual!