Russian demand for studying in Asia is steadily growing

Demand among Russian students for studying in Asian universities is steadily growing as a result of serious difficulties in getting student visas in the majority of Western countries and due to the lower cost of tuition.

The biggest demand is for studying in Chinese universities, where courses such as financial technologies, information technology, logistics and construction currently enjoy the biggest demand from Russian citizens, according to experts writing in Kommersant, the Russian business paper.

According to experts, one of the reasons for this is the lower cost of tuition and living in China, compared with the cost in the West and in Russia.

Irina Sledeva, general director of AcademConsult Agency, one of Russia’s leading agencies specialising in organising study abroad for Russian students, told Kommersant that the overall costs for studying in some Chinese universities at present do not exceed US$5,000 a year including living costs.

In top demand are universities not only in China but also in Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea, the United Arab Emirates and also Thailand and the Philippines. The cost of education in most universities in these countries is several times cheaper than in the majority of Western educational institutions.

According to experts of the Russian Ministry of Science and Higher Education, admission to Asian universities is generally easier than to institutions in the West, with visas issued faster and the list of required documents for admissions not complicated.

There is also an ever-growing demand from Russian students for studying in Asian branches of Western universities.

In recent years many top Western universities have opened branch campuses in the Asian region. As a rule, studying at such a branch campus costs several thousand dollars less than at the main campus, while they teach there in the usual English.

According to representatives of some leading Russian consulting agencies working in the field of higher education, the Chinese C9 League of top universities is gradually catching up in popularity with its American analogue, the Ivy League group of elite universities.

In addition to Asian universities, Latin American universities are becoming more popular for study abroad. These trends have been confirmed by representatives of leading Russian universities.

According to Irina Abankina, professor at the Institute of Education of the National Research University Higher School of Economics, one of Russia’s most prestigious universities in the field of economics, the ever-growing demand from Russian students to study in Asian universities is not a momentary trend but began to appear five to seven years ago with the rise of Asian universities in the global rankings.

Abankina told University World News: “There were some major changes in the top 100 universities over the past decade. In fact, it was American universities that lost their positions, which led to the decline of their share in the majority of rankings from 60% to 50%. While the share of European universities remained practically the same (30%-35%), the share of Asian universities increased to more than 20%.”

According to Abankina and other experts who spoke to University World News, another reason for the ever-growing popularity of Asian universities is their active promotion in the international arena, often with the support of their national governments.

In China, for instance, the government provides special grants and programmes for studying the Chinese language.

Abankina said: “These are annual, sometimes two-year language learning and adaptation programmes, after which applicants receive the right to continue education in one of the Chinese universities.”

On a separate note, Singapore has experienced significant growth in demand for its university programmes, including from Russian students, driven by its decision in 2005 to promote the idea of a salary of at least US$100,000 for professors, enabling it to compete across the world for academic talent.