Students find quality of programme attractive
MOSCOW: In a bid to compete with the West in globalising its higher education, Russia's higher educational institutions, especially in Moscow and St. Petersburg, are wooing foreign students to its shores. This is backed by a Presidential-level initiative too.
India figures prominently in Russia's radar the chief attraction for students is the promise of high-quality medical education.
Agencies involved in bringing foreign students to Russia's nine medical schools say these institutions today offer Indian students up to 730 paid seats in the six-year under-graduate and two - five-year post-graduate medical programmes.
Indian students in Russia also vouch for the quality of the medical degree programme. "We get to interact so much with patients during the degree course ... One more strong point of Russian medical education is the number of practical hours we get during the six-year-course," says Parul Saxena, an Indian student at the Ryazan State I.P. Pavlov Medical University at Ryazan, about 220 km from Moscow.
Indian students can do their MBBS or MD course in English in Russia's medical schools. However, foreign students must necessarily learn Russian for patient interaction, according to Vladimir M. Filippov, Rector of the People's Friendship University of Russia, at Moscow.
A feature of a policy initiative mooted by President Vladmir Putin a few years ago is the Russian Government's decision to permit its institutions to open branches abroad.
Victor N. Petrenko, Deputy Director, International Education and Cooperation Department under the Federal Agency on Education, says Russia has over 1,00,000 foreign students from 168 countries, most of them from the former Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) countries.
After President Putin's policy decision, "many of our universities have opened branches in the CIS countries. We are, in fact, considering many applications from more institutions. And, in a normal process, it takes only six months for an institution to get the approval of the Federal Agency to open branches abroad. The Government is generally keen to help in such cases."
Mr. Petrenko cites the example of the Moscow Economics and Statistical Institute, which now has a branch in Hungary. The St. Petersburg Institute of Craftsmen has opened a branch in Latvia, he adds.
Indian students who undergo the MBBS or the six-year MD programme in Russia have to undergo a screening test and then do an internship in Indian universities as per existing Medial Council of India (MCI) regulations.
Mr. Petrenko says that though India and Russia boast good Government-level agreements, recognition for medical degrees is hard to come by. "There is a draft agreement which we sent to the Indian side, but they did not show any interest... .For the past 20 years, the issue of medical equivalency has not been settled. At the Government level, we are always keen that India recognises our [MBBS or MD] degrees," Mr. Petrenko adds.
Students in Ryazan and St. Petersburg said that after finishing the six or seven-year grind (including the preparatory one-year-course where one learns Russian before starting the formal medical degree), one has to return to India and write a screening test, prepared by the National Board of Examinations. Then, the Indian graduate from a foreign university can register with the MCI or a State Medical Council to do an internship and later register to practise.
A Russian MBBS degree costs between US $ 1,800 and US $ 3,500 a year, depending on which institution one chooses; accommodation costs about US $ 100 a month.
Before going to Russia, Indian students should get an eligibility certificate from the MCI as per a directive of the Supreme Court of India.