Recently enrolled at a Russian university or due to start your next semester? Unfortunately, that may not be enough to be allowed into Russia, due to various ongoing nuances of the coronavirus restrictions. This article gives detailed description and guidance for foreign students who are looking for getting admitted at any of the Russian universities. Writes Victoria Ryabikova
I am enrolled at a Russian university. Can I freely enter Russia?
Most likely, yes. On August 20, 2021, the Coronavirus Emergency Response Centre allowed foreign students from all countries to enter Russia, regardless of the resumption of air travel with them or not.
However, students from those countries that still have travel restrictions will not be able to come to Russia, in which case they will be able to study remotely.
What documents do I need to enter Russia?
Each university draws up lists of foreign students in advance and sends them to the territorial offices of the, as reported on the Telegram channel of the Ministry of Education and Science of Russia. Entry into Russia for foreign students is based on these lists, so it is better to contact the admissions department of your university in advance and check whether they have sent your details to the above ministry.
In addition, you will need a study visa, which can be obtained from an embassy or consulate of the Russian Federation; it is issued only to those who have received a study invitation from a university or the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Universities also require students to take out a Russian medical insurance policy in advance, which can be purchased online from a Russian insurance firm. The annual premium ranges from 2,000 to 14,000 rubles (approx. $27 to $190); recommended firms can also be found on official university websites. For example, the Higher School of Economics recommends:
At least 10 days before arrival in Russia, foreign students must inform the university of their date of entry. A negative COVID-19 PCR test certificate in Russian or English (preferably both) is required no more than 3 calendar days prior to arrival in Russia. Students already vaccinated in their home country can bring a certificate with a notarized translation into Russian, but this document does not remove the need for a PCR test.
I am in Russia. What next?
After entering Russia, you need to take another COVID-19 test within three days. Express testing is done at airports, train stations and third-party medical labs, such as Gemotest, Invitro, etc. Until confirmation of a negative result, you must self-isolate in a dormitory or rented apartment, during which period classes will take place in online format. After that, you can attend on-campus lectures.
Some Russian universities additionally require a COVID-19 vaccination certificate for on-campus attendance, in which case one from your home country will also work. If you don’t have a certificate, you can register for vaccination at your university already in Russia.
How to enroll at a Russian university?
There is now a new website for foreigners who want to study in Russia. You can apply to study online and many programs offer free tuition. Here, we explain how best to use the new service.
The Federal Agency Rossotrudnichestvo has launched a new website on which any foreign national can fill in an application online to study in Russia.
“This new service, a one-stop shop, is designed to provide a completely transparent process – from submitting an application and the various stages of the admissions process to visa and migration support,” the agency said in a commentary to TASS news agency.
Prospective students have 741 educational establishments throughout Russia to choose from. The program provides for three forms of study – on-campus (full-time), mixed on-campus/off-campus (part-time) and off-campus (extramural). Students can receive secondary vocational education at Russian colleges, or enroll at a Russian university to study for bachelor’s, master’s or specialist degrees, or enlist for postgraduate courses, postgraduate military courses, medical internships or assistantships.
“After receiving your diploma, you can continue your education by pursuing doctoral studies, going on refresher courses or completing professional retraining programs,” according to the website.
Process of applying
An application for admission should be completed via a personal account on the website. To do this, prospective students need to select in advance at least six universities where they would like to study and decide on the level and form of study. The following documents should be attached to the main application:
A copy of a passport or other document confirming the applicant’s identity;
A copy of the applicant’s education certificate;
A completed form;
A photograph against a white background.
The selected universities should be listed in order of priority. All documents should be translated into Russian in advance and certified by a notary or consul. Some universities may require additional documents and prospective students should check for this information on the website of the university in question or its admissions department.
Prospective students should also work out in advance what the university’s tuition fees are going to be – these can be found on the website of each institution. Foreign nationals can pay for their studies with their own funds, receive funding from endowments or private companies, or be awarded a scholarship (quota) of the Russian government. Every year, up to 15,000 foreign students enroll at Russian universities on government quotas. To apply for one of the competitive scholarships, you need to write to the Rossotrudnichestvo representative office or Russian Federation consular office in your country of residence.
Two-stage selection process
As a rule, the process of entry to a Russian higher educational establishment consists of two stages – an initial qualifying test in prospective students’ “home” countries and an entrance exam at the institution itself.
After submitting an application, prospective students receive information about the qualifying stages via their personal user account. They then have to register for an interview or qualifying test and these have to take place within a specified time. The future student is subsequently awarded marks which assign them a position in the overall ranking of candidates in their country of residence. If his grades are adequate, they are informed of this via their user account and will receive a notification about moving to the second stage of the selection procedure.
The second stage can take place either remotely or at a higher educational establishment inside Russia. If the prospective student’s personal presence is required, they will need to obtain a visa, purchase tickets and come to the country for a test on the dates allotted by the institution. All the details of the visit need to be finalized with the respective higher educational establishment.
On arrival in Russia, the prospective student must have a complete package of valid documents. All the documents must be translated into Russian and notarized:
Notification of acceptance for the course
Document certifying identity and citizenship
Educational certificate indicating qualification (degree) obtained, subjects studied and grades awarded
Medical certificate confirming absence of HIV infection or any contraindications against studying in Russia
Photograph (format to be specified by the institution).
The documents may require legalization in their country of issue – this means that a Russian Federation consulate has to append a special stamp confirming the documents are genuine. Information about the need for legalization can also be obtained at a consulate or representative office of Rossotrudnichestvo. If the prospective student’s home country is a member of the Hague Convention, an apostille – a special stamp confirming the authenticity of documents – can be obtained.
Student visa and maintenance
Once a student has been accepted, the higher educational establishment or the Foreign Ministry will issue an invitation for study in Russia. On receiving it, the foreign student will need to obtain a student visa, something that can be done at a Russian Federation embassy or consulate.
“A visa is not required for applicants from a number of countries with which Russia has concluded a visa waiver agreement, while citizens from Belarus, Kazakhstan, Armenia, Kyrgyzstan and Ukraine can additionally enter the country without a foreign passport,” according to the site.
On arrival in Russia, the student will have to take out a voluntary medical insurance policy. The policy, which costs 4,000-12,000 rubles (approx. $52.70-$158), will cover treatment in a number of the country’s outpatient clinics.
Universities also provide accommodation for intramural students at a cost that broadly ranges from just 300 rubles to 10,000 rubles (approx. $3.95-$131.83) per month, depending on the institution.
Russian language exam
Lectures and seminars in the majority of Russian higher education establishments are conducted exclusively in Russian. That is why the portal also offers language instruction at language schools, via remote learning or at preparatory faculties.
Certain educational establishments also require that a special examination in the use of Russian be passed – Test of Russian as a Foreign Language (TORFL).
The test takes place over two days and consists of six parts:
It costs around 5,500 rubles (approx. $72.5) to sit the exam, which can be taken at any accredited TORFL center throughout the world. An exam lasts between 3.5 and 5 hours and a certificate is issued to anyone awarded at least 66 percent in each part of the test.
For an additional payment, students are given the opportunity to re-sit any part of the test in which they failed to attain a sufficient mark. The TORFL can also be taken at the following Russian higher educational establishments:
Volgograd State Socio-Pedagogical University
Pushkin State Russian Language Institute
Kazan (Volga Region) Federal University
Lomonosov Moscow State University
Moscow State Pedagogical University
Tomsk National Research State University
Penza State University
Pskov State University
Herzen State Pedagogical University of Russia
Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia
St Petersburg State University
Tyumen State University
South-West State University.
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