What was memorable for foreign students this summerAugust 27, 2018
Many Russian universities offer supplementary education programs for foreign students, who’d like to spend their summer travelling and learning something new. It also involves linguistic courses and courses on different disciplines. Education experts believe that summer schools not only allow students to gain unique professional experience to meet a variety of their future career needs, but they also attract more international students to the Russian universities and promote Russian higher education abroad.
From the East to the West, universities participating in Project 5-100 account for the lion's share of summer schools in Russia. Summer schools serve the purpose of broadening international cooperation in the field of education and to enlarge the number of foreign students in universities. Besides, summer schools at universities are aimed at increasing the export potential of the study programs in foreign languages, internationalization, and approving experimental teaching methods. Summer schools are a great opportunity for the teaching staff to work with international audiences. They can later use this experience in their work with foreign bachelor's and master's degree students.
Students of the summer programs at the Russian universities come from various countries, and the number of countries increases each year: previously, most foreign students were from the CIS countries and Asia, while future professionals from the West become more interested in Russian science now. Thus, students taking part in the summer programs of the Higher School of Economics (HSE) come from Hong Kong, South Korea, the USA, Mexico and Germany. Students from China, India and EU countries such as France, Germany, the Netherlands and Bulgaria show the greatest interest in the summer schools at ITMO University. This year, the summer programs at Kazan Federal University (KFU) attracted students from the UK, Germany, Italy, Bolivia, Ecuador. According to experts, these statistics prove an increase in the number of "export destinations" of Russian higher education and an improvement in its competitiveness.
While some Russian universities are "conquering" the West, other universities are focused on developing cooperation with Asian partners. For instance, 40% of the 700 foreign students who took part in the summer programs at Peter the Great St.Petersburg Polytechnic University (SPbPU) this year came from China and other Asian countries. According to experts, these numbers show that Russia has successfully broadened and diversified its education export. Besides, many students came to study this university international summer school from the USA, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Mexico, Brazil, Iran, Malaysia and more than 30 other countries: the International Polytechnic Summer School remains the leader amongst Russian technological summer schools. During the two summer months, young people studied space, energy and information technology, civil engineering, the Russian language and culture, business and management, STEM disciplines and natural science. For the first time, the this international summer school offered modules on "Oil and gas in the fuel industry", "Biomedical engineering", "Urban studies", "Logistics and supply chain management", and "Molecular gastronomy" attended by students and practitioners. Students visited a large number of companies and enterprises, including the Leningrad nuclear power plant, the Russian plant of Hyundai Motor, the Svetloe Radio Astronomical Observatory, etc. Many leading foreign experts gave lectures at SPbPU: professors from the University of Massachusetts Lowell (USA), Lappeenranta University of Technology (Finland), Politecnico di Milano (Italy), Leibniz University, Hannover (Germany), and many other universities shared their knowledge and expertise with the students.
From cybersecurity to experiments in space to remain competitive in the international market, Russian universities have developed educational programs that meet the demands of the era of digital economy and total digitalization. Thus, the VIII international Russian-Chinese summer school of the HSE was dedicated this year to the interaction between Russia and China in areas beyond the traditional spheres of cooperation (economic, military and political cooperation). Attention was given primarily to technologies in cybersecurity, the key aspects of digital economy, traditional and social media.
Partnerships with the largest technology and innovations centers also increase the competitiveness of summer programs at Russian universities. In June, Tomsk state University (TSU) organized a "Big data and future technologies" summer school, which offered intensive courses, lectures and workshops on data analysis methods, tools and trends. TSU engaged experts across different research fields and value chains and professionals from Skoltech, Yandex, IBM office in Moscow and Rubius. Russian universities have strong competence in aerospace industry, health care and medicine, which attract more and more foreign studets.
Experts note that most Russian universities not only teach math and science, but they also delve deeper into the interdisciplinary roots of medicine, computer sciences, new materials and technologies and aerospace. For instance, the Sechenov University hosted UK-Russia Summer School in Innovative Surgery attended by students from Oxford and Cambridge. Also, Samara State University holds an annual international space summer school themed "Promising Space Technologies and Experiments In Space". Its participants learn to manage modern software systems for designing nanosatelites and their electronics, attend lectures on satellite design, construction and operation, develop project management skills and perform a preliminary analysis of a space mission, which is formulated for them in advance. Emphasis is placed on the study of technologies for creating and using CubeSat nanosats for scientific and educational purposes. In 2017, about 170 foreign students submitted applications for participation, and this year their number exceeded 200. Samara University is known worldwide as a provider of highly credible credentials in the aerospace industry, and in the spheres of aviation and radio electronics. The university has a unique nanosatellite testing facility and foreign universities show great interest in it.
However, apart from unique programs in areas such as medicine, aerospace and aircraft engineering, Russia traditionally "exports" its language and culture, and interest in it increases every year. The number of participants of the "Russian Studies in Real Russia" program at Ural Federal University (UrFu) has tripled since 2010. Most students come from China, Italy, Norway, and Germany. The influx of German students is due to the fact that the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) awards grants that can be used to study at UrFu. Immersive Russian programs are offered by Peter the Great St.Petersburg Polytechnic University (SPbPU), Saint Petersburg Electrotechnical University (ETU "LETI"), Samara University, the University of Tyumen, and ITMO University.
Another reason why foreign students chose summer schools by Project 5-100 universities is that after completing the courses they are being given ECTS credits that are universally accepted all throughout the European Union. In some cases, "bonuses" for students include joint articles with the teaching staff. If a student has completed the program agreed upon by their home university and their host university, the credits achieved will be transferred. Thus, students can then return to their degree program at their home university without having lost time or credits. Relevance, the competitive advantages of summer programs, and the demand for them are also confirmed by the results of a target audience preferences analysis and market characteristics research. Most often, foreign students note that a Russian summer school offers versatile programs, including intensive language courses, educational modules on different subjects, guest lectures to help students integrate, and a flexible approach to studying.
Most universities manage to adapt their learning process both to the requirements of foreign students who have already studied Russian as a foreign language for some time, and to the needs of those who are just beginning to learn it. All this allows students to gain the most valuable experience in studying and tourism, and to make their stay in Russia more interesting and enlightening.