Disappointed Students Turn to Foreign Schools
There are numerous grants and scholarships available to those who wish to study abroad.
Published: September 21, 2011 (Issue # 1675)
According to a survey carried out by Career.Ru, a recruitment company helping young professionals to find a job, as many as 44 percent of graduates from Russian universities are unsatisfied with the quality of the education they receive.
Having lost belief in the Russian education system, many parents send their children abroad for an education in the hopes that this might be their ticket to a successful career.
“British education is highly valued all over the world, and especially in Russia,” said Kathleen Bull, academic coordinator at Carfax, which helps Russians prepare to enter British universities.
“A degree from a British university will definitely improve your chances of getting a job back in Russia. Many Russian students who integrate well into society decide to remain in the U.K. and receive great job offers from the most successful U.K. and overseas companies.”
The fact is that the chances of a graduate from a Russian university getting a well-paid job overseas are slim, with only programmers and some other highly qualified technical specialists able to count on finding productive employment abroad. For most other professions, a diploma from even Russia’s most renowned universities doesn’t rate very highly. Another important reason that an overseas education is popular is that it is prestigious. According to Bull, some Carfax clients “see the intrinsic value of a good education, something that develops the intellectual capacity of young minds and equips young men and women with everything they need to enjoy the lives ahead of them as adults more thoroughly.”
Most foreign applicants are required to demonstrate sufficient background and language proficiency to be accepted. At most Western schools the application process involves creative tasks such as writing a statement of purpose and getting recommendations. It is at this stage that companies like Carfax come in to help assist with the admissions process and university interviews and to deepen the candidate’s knowledge of their chosen subjects with tutors.
“We always advise our students to choose subjects that they have most interest in and feel most passionate about rather than those they feel might be ‘useful’ for some future career,” Bull told The St. Petersburg Times. “Studying a subject you genuinely enjoy as opposed to one you feel you should study helps you achieve better academic results and a better degree.”
Studying abroad is a decidedly costly affair. However, the most outstanding, passionate and intelligent students have a chance of winning one of the numerous grants and scholarships sponsored by various foundations, or directly by the universities themselves. The European mobility grant Erasmus Mundus, the British Chevening grant, Germany’s DAAD, the American Fulbright and many other programs welcome young people from all over the world and enable thousands of them to get a good education for free every year. One of the most common conditions for grant recipients, however, is that they return to their homeland after graduation and apply the unique knowledge and experience they received.
Britta Piel of RWTH Aachen University said that there are many international students from about 120 countries enrolled in post-graduate programs at RWTH. She added that students who obtain Master’s degrees or PhDs there “are highly sought after by employers, since they have in-depth knowledge of their subject matter… have a proven record of self-reliance, excellent language skills and intercultural competence. Therefore, they can easily work in international settings — either back in Russia, in Germany, or in any other country.”
While RWTH Aachen is mostly known for its engineering, computer science, physics and chemistry programs, humanities are also very popular among Russian students. According to Bull, Carfax has students “studying in a wide range of disciplines from math and physics, to art courses and Master’s degrees at Sotheby’s.
“We are currently advising a very talented young singer on applying to the top conservatoires in the U.K.,” she added. “As well as this, business and economics remain extremely popular among many of our students.”
Although a foreign diploma alone cannot guarantee a better job or huge salary rise when back at home, the knowledge, experience and language skills gained are undoubtedly a great benefit, and are likely to be noticed by progressive employers.