Russian universities are losing foreign students
Most students come to Russia from Kazakhstan, China and Uzbekistan
/NOVOSTIVL/ The pandemic has seriously affected the global higher education market: according to experts from the Russian International Affairs Council, numerous Asian students in the coming years will choose to study at universities in their region. When the epidemiological situation returns to normal, American and British universities will easily regain their lost positions, while the universities of the next echelon may lose the competition to China. If Russian universities do not develop support measures and additional programs, the number of foreign students in them will decline, experts warn.
The Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC) presented its report "The response of higher education systems and national governments to the challenges of the pandemic." The organization's experts analyzed the impact of the coronavirus on the development of universities and prepared forecasts on trends in the global higher education market for the coming years. Citing foreign studies, the authors of the report point out that at the beginning of the pandemic, international student mobility was completely stopped in 89% of educational institutions. This led to serious problems: students had to very quickly figure out how the closure of universities would affect their status in the host country. They had to make a serious choice: whether to return home "without having a clear idea of when they could return, or is it better to stay in the host country, realizing that employment opportunities and continuing education are very limited and problems with visa status are not excluded."
The transition to distance learning has had a particularly negative impact on this category of students. "International students receiving online education at home are deprived of language and cultural immersion, networking opportunities and work experience in the country of study," the report says. "This has led many families and students to abandon international education opportunities."... The situation has been exacerbated by a general decline in paying capacity, health concerns, and outbreaks of racism towards Asians in some regions. All of these factors have led to a sharp decline in the number of international students at universities around the world, experts point out, and this trend is unlikely to change anytime soon.
Thus, at the end of September, the Global Alliance for the Advancement of International Education (GAISA) predicted a 13.7% reduction in the number of international students in the United States compared with last year. Experts predicted the growth in the number of students from abroad only in the UK. The fact is that the British government did not support universities enough - in order to preserve income, they began to offer foreign students more attractive conditions. Note, however, that this prediction was made even before the appearance of the "British strain" of the coronavirus and tightening of quarantine measures in the United Kingdom.
Elena Karpinskaya, RIAC Deputy Program Director, believes that it will take several years to restore international student mobility, but during this time preferences may change significantly. “Both in America and in the UK, education is in English, the quality of their education is high. Therefore, in the long term, the pandemic will not affect the total number of foreign students in these countries, ”says Ms. Karpinskaya, predicting an increase in the demand for universities in East and Southeast Asia.“ Students from Japan, Korea, China will now feel more secure in the universities of this region. There, the situation with coronavirus is more stable, and this is a very important factor. "
This trend may negatively affect Russian universities, Elena Karpinskaya does not exclude. According to the Ministry of Education and Science, about 315 thousand students from abroad study in Russia. According to the FSB statistics released in 2019, most students come to Russia from Kazakhstan, China and Uzbekistan. “If Russia takes advantage of the situation when the borders of Europe and other countries are closed, if our universities increase the number of programs and support for foreign students, then there will be one scenario. And if some steps are not taken, Russia will continue to lose students from abroad, says Elena Karpinskaya. Because mobility in Western countries will resume over time, but in China it will only increase.
Nikolai Kulbaka, Associate Professor of the Department of Political and Public Communications of the Institute of Social Sciences of the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, doubts that the educational trajectories of foreign students will change dramatically: study. Plus, the direction of study is difficult to change quickly - if a student prepares for a year or two to enter a European or American university and suddenly wants to enter East Asia, it will be difficult both logistically and informationally. "
In early December, the head of the Ministry of Education and Science, Valery Falkov, said that out of 315 thousand foreign students, about 100 thousand left Russia on vacation and could not return. Due to closed borders, they studied in a distance format, which they repeatedly complained about. At a December meeting in the Federation Council, it was announced that the relevant ministry, together with the government coronavirus headquarters, will work out possible options for the return of students by the end of January, but there is still no decision to resume entry.