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Christchurch College, Oxford. Photo supplied

Britain blocks Russian students

The conclusion of an agreement between Russia and the United Kingdom on the mutual recognition of academic qualifications, has been blocked by Britain.

Published: April 30, 2018, 10:07 am

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    The news was reported by the press office of the Russian embassy in London. According to various diplomats, this situation arose following the deterioration of relations between the two countries after Britain baselessly accused Russia of launching a chemical attack on British soil against members of the Skripal family.

    Some experts note that the agreement would have helped to simplify the process of further study in Britain for Russians. For example, for a British Master’s degree, only a Russian Bachelor’s was required to pass the entrance examination.

    “There is a rather long procedure of recognition now, but nevertheless our students study in the UK on a Russian bachelor’s degree. The agreement, which everyone is talking about now, the signing of which was suspended, would greatly facilitate this procedure,” the Russian pro-rector for the development of educational programs and international activities explained.

    Some Kremlin watchers believe that the agreement is rather about limiting employment for Russians. That is, those who were educated in Russia, but want to work in the UK, will not have their qualifications recognised in Britain.

    “As a rule, people use this procedure when they come to the UK and want to work in their specialty. In order to start working, it is necessary for the diploma to be recognized there,” Lyubov Glebova, deputy chairman of the Federation Council Committee on Rules and Organization of Parliamentary Activities said. But this may no longer be possible in the future.

    Some 66 000 Russians currently live in the UK, and many have academic qualifications of both countries. Today, about 80 Russian universities provide the opportunity of studying abroad.

    The Russian embassy in Britain says it believes that British private education is losing its appeal to Russians.

    The reasons are the deteriorating relations between the two countries as well as an upbeat economic outlook in Russia.

    The Union of Independent Schools of Britain estimated that in 2015, almost 2800 Russian nationals were studying at private British educational institutions. This year their number had decreased by 40 percent.

    Demand for places at Oxford has been traditionally high among the children of Russian businessman and state officials, and a significant portion of Russian graduates from English-speaking universities prefer to return to Russia after their graduation.

    The ever-growing cost of tuition at Russian universities, had previously increased the numbers of students choosing to study in European universities, according to data of the Moscow city government, as well as some leading experts in the field of higher education in Russia.

    Sergey Dolgov, deputy director of the department of higher education of the Moscow city government, remarked: “The cost of tuition at Russian universities has grown significantly in recent years, while the number of state-funded places has declined.”

    According to a report of the Moscow city government, some 25 percent of the approximately 35 000 Russian students who went abroad to study this year chose Central and Eastern Europe. Education in these countries is usually cheaper compared to Russian universities, with a comparable quality of teaching.

    At the same time the demand for studying at leading universities in the United States and Switzerland grew, mainly due to the end of the financial crisis in Russia and the stabilisation of the economic situation in the country.

    But even these trends may pale in comparison as the number of Russian students attending Chinese universities shot up from 5 000 in 2012 to 16 000 in 2016.

    Russian applicants who successfully passed entrance exams at universities in Baltic countries, Finland, Poland, the Czech Republic, and China, increased by 50 percent between 2013-16.

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