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A diploma of opportunities

Russian railway universities are seeing an increase in international enrolments
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There are nine railway universities that are active in Russia today. As part of cooperation with foreign universities, they implement international educational programs and enroll students from abroad. As of 2023, around 10 thousand foreign students from various parts of the world are being educated at these industry-specific universities.

The following Russian cities are home to railway universities: Moscow - the Moscow State University of Transport (MIIT); Saint Petersburg - Emperor Alexander I St. Petersburg State Transport University (PGUPS); Samara - Samara State Transport University (SamGUPS); Rostov-on-Don - Rostov State Transport University (RGUPS), Khabarovsk - the Far East State University of Railway Transport (DVGUPS); Irkutsk - Irkutsk State Transport University (IrGUPS); Yekaterinburg - the Ural State University of Railway Transport (USURT); Novosibirsk - Siberian State Transport University (SGUPS); Omsk - Omsk State Transport University (OmGUPS). Additionally, many other Russian cities host various structural divisions of said universities.

Each railway university in Russia enrolls foreign students every year. This academic year has seen most of them enroll at Moscow (2,314 students), St. Petersburg (2,240 students) and the Far East (841 students) universities, as 1520 International found out.
Prior to enrolment, many students take a preparatory course, which allows them to learn the Russian language and get to know the Russian culture for one or two semesters.
The current statistics in regards to most of these universities indicate that the greater part of applicants come from the CIS countries, primarily Kazakhstan, a trend driven by both the geographic proximity and the specific needs of the economies in said countries.  

The far abroad countries’ share is accounted for by students from China, Korea, Mongolia, Iran, Afghanistan, Laos and Serbia and this is only a small part. According to Lyubov Luchinina, head of the International Cooperation Department of the Moscow State University of Transport (MIIT), the latter teaches students from 58 countries. This figure has been growing dynamically over the past five years and, combined with the total number of foreign students, is a record for the university. 

“Expanding the geography of international students at MIIT has a positive impact on the university’s academic programs and research initiatives. It cultivates opportunities for increased collaborative research among faculty and students from around the globe. Our university upholds this trend by providing quality education and specialized programs,” she told 1520 International.

The Chinese account for the greater share of students from non-CIS countries. The current academic year has seen a record number of students from China enroll: it has almost doubled compared to the previous year and reached 467 people.

This is due to the fact that the university has received five licenses from the Chinese government, granting it the right to teach Chinese students in Russia.

The Far East State University of Railway Transport also reports the predominating number of students from China. The university is interacting with Chinese educational institutions through a number of joint educational programs that allow for students to study in both China and Russia.

Students from China mostly choose engineering fields: rolling stock engineering, construction and mechanical engineering. Students from a Chinese partner university, Shandong Transport University, are studying for their master's degree in electric power engineering, says Svetlana Khan, head of the International Affairs Department at the Far East State University of Railway Transport.

Notably, she says, students take exams per the standards of the Ministry of Education of the People's Republic of China, and then they receive a government grant to study at the Far East State University of Railway Transport.

Khabarovsk is also popular among Korean students. Almost all of them are government-financed and study on the quotas of Rossotrudnichestvo according to an agreement signed between the Far East State University of Railway Transport, Korea’s Ministry of Railways and the Pyongyang Railway Institute. They study power engineering, automation, telemechanics and communications.

Management is a discipline that has traditionally been popular with students from all countries.

The other universities unanimously report the high popularity of such departments as “Railway Operations”, “Rolling Stock”, “Railway Construction” and “Information Systems and Technology”.

Anna Yermakova, Director of Samara State Transport University’s Center for International Relations and Marketing Services gives a simple explanation as to why students make this particular choice: graduates in these disciplines are in demand in many countries around the world. 

While newly graduated specialists from far-abroad countries tend to return to their home countries, graduates from the CIS countries often choose to stay in Russia, where they obtain citizenship and build careers in Russian companies. These include Russian Railways, Federal Freight Company and Transoil, says Tatiana Smirnova, acting head of Emperor Alexander I St. Petersburg State Transport University’s International Relations Department.

Viktoria Yeletina

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