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Sources of financing and amount of payment for training of foreign post-graduate students

Sources of financing for the post-graduate training of foreign citizens in Russian higher institutions may be divided into two equal parts: governmental sources (funds of Russian or national Ministries of Education, funds of Russian universities under interuniversity agreements about free exchange of trainees, post-graduate students, under programs of scientific and technical cooperation, etc.) and non-governmental sources based on personal and family funds of post-graduate students (over 40%), funds of sponsor, organizations and enterprises supporting training in Russia, and foreign grants including from international organizations.

If we compare sources of financing the training of foreign post-graduate students in Russian and American higher institutions, we would notice certain distinctions. One distinction is that in the USA share of foreigners paying themselves for post-graduate training is larger than in Russia. And foreign post-graduate students use both personal and parental savings and income from current work (activities) in the USA, which is quite often connected with the thesis subject and is fairly decently paid. In Russia foreign post-graduate students (as well as students of full cycle training, masters, trainees, and doctoral students) according to rules of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, have no right to work outside the educational institution (and higher institutions are not able to ensure employment and decent income for many of them), though foreigners can work and very much wish to work for many of them are short of money because post-graduate allowance paid by the Russian Ministry of Education or university is obviously not enough - in fact, most of post-graduate male students (and 3/4 of foreign post-graduate students - as it was noted - are mostly married men, over 30 years old) have to support their families. Amount of grants paid to foreign post-graduate students is equated to Russian grants and averages to 500-600 roubles or about 20 US dollars, though some Russian higher institutions pay post-graduate grants of substantially higher amount: for example, the MSU named after М.V. Lomonosov pays sometimes as much as 1500 roubles which is equivalent to 52 US dollars or 43 euros. For comparison we could mention that a German post-graduate student grant amounts to 1200 euros.

Besides, we should also note the small share of funds for foreign post-graduate students in the USA paid by national Ministries of Education. The reason here is that governments of many countries are not willing to support American economy by financing professional training of top professionals using national budgets, as many of foreign post-graduate students (according to some researches - every other student) stay to work and live in the USA upon completing their post-graduate studies and defending a thesis.

Most of foreign post-graduate students trained at the expense of the Russian budget, Russian and national Ministry of Education, under interuniversity agreements, and programs of scientific cooperation come from countries of Asia, Africa, Arabian East and Latin America; most of West-European and North-American post-graduate students are training at their own expense or at the expense of their parents (see Tab. 1).

Table 1

Sources of financing post-graduate students of various countries, %

Sources of financing post-graduate studies Nationality
CIS and Baltic states Europe, the USA, Canada   Asia   Near East and Northern Africa Black Africa Latin America
Trained free, under invitation from the Russian Ministry of Education, under agreement of interuniversity exchange, at a budgetary department 33,2 14,3 25,3 26,7 33,3 16,7
Training is paid by the national Ministry of Education 7,4 14,3 22,2 24,4 38,9 50,0
Grant for post-graduate studies 0,0 14,3 3,0 6,7 11,1 33,3
Post-graduate studies sponsored by an enterprise, firm, or company 7,4 0,0 7,1 0,0 11,1 0,0
Supported by parents and relatives 33,2 42,8 26,3 35,6 11,1 16,7
Training is paid independently 11,6 14,3 19,2 8,9 0,0 0,0
Supported by sponsor 7,2 0,0 3,0 0,0 0,0 0,0

Mostly, agrarian post-graduate students of scientific orientation are trained at the expense of Russian institutions, while most post-graduate students-economists can afford training themselves or are sponsored by their parents (see Tab. 2).

Table 2

Sources of financing Russian post-graduate studies for post-graduate students of various countries depending on their thesis subject, %

Sources of financing post-graduate studies Thesis subject
Humanities, pedagogy   Law    Economics  Engineering, technologies   Medical   Natural and exact sciences, geosciences, ecology Agriculture, veterinary, forestry Culture, arts, music
Trained free, under invitation from the Russian Ministry of Education, under agreement of interuniversity exchange, at a budgetary department 22,2 60,0 33,3 16,7 16,7 28,6 46,2 29,4
Training is paid by the national Ministry of Education 7,4 0.0 3,7 33,3 23,3 34,3 30,8 35,3
Grant for post-graduate studies 7,4 0,0 0,0 7,1 13,3 2,9 0,0 5,9
Post-graduate studies sponsored by an enterprise, firm, or company 7,4 0,0 7,4 7,1 3,3 2,9 7,7 5,9
Supported by parents and relatives 18,5 30,0 37,0 33,3 40,0 25,7 7,7 11,8
Training is paid independently 33,3 0,0 22,2 4,8 13,3 8,6 7,7 11,8
Supported by sponsor 3,7 10,0 0,0 2,4 0,0 0,0 0,0 11,8

During the share of foreign post-graduate students trained at the expense of the Russian Ministry of Education and the budget of the RF has been decreasing, and the share of self-supported foreign students in Russia is increasing. This trend affected higher institutions of all types of subordination including higher institutions of the Ministry of Education of Russia, though the latter is affected least. Each fourth post-graduate foreign student and each fifth foreign doctoral student (120 persons) was trained on a commercial basis (under a contract). Currently this balance has slightly changed.

According to public polls average annual cost of post-graduate training in Russian higher institutions for foreign citizens who pay independently are supported by an enterprise, firm, or organization amounted to 2,145 US dollars.

By scientific specializations of post-graduate studies (dissertational subjects) average annual price is as follows:

  • Post-graduate studies in humanities - 1,759 USD
  • Post-graduate studies in law - 1,375 USD
  • Post-graduate studies in economics - 1,515 USD
  • Post-graduate studies in engineering - 2,222 USD
  • Post-graduate studies in medicine - 2,698 USD
  • Post-graduate studies in natural sciences - 1,944 USD
  • Post-graduate studies in agriculture - 1,193 USD
  • Post-graduate studies on in culture, arts or music - 2,831 USD.

Post-graduate training at own expense in Russia is most expensive for students from Europe, USA and Canada - 2,334 USD per year; Asian students must pay 2,075 USD, Arabs - 2,162 USD, Africans - 2,262 USD, Latin Americans - 2067 USD on the average. The lowest cost is defined for post-graduate students from the CIS and Baltic states - 1,728 USD per year on the average (some higher educational institutions of Russia offer a 20% discount to citizens of former Soviet republics).

How can we assess feasibility or "fairness" of those amounts? Basic constituent of the price is quality and fundamentality of scientific training, as well as credibility, prestige and popularity (preferably abroad) of an educational institution issuing diploma confirming a scientific degree. The next important factor adding to the cost of educational service is living and learning conditions including the safety level of foreign students. The third factor is the cost of educational process including salaries to the teaching staff, municipal services, use of educational and experimental equipment, premises, and other resources (including equipment and information) provision.

Regarding labor charges (professors) and operation, repair and equipment of premises (educational buildings and hostels), average cost of training foreign top expert post-graduate students in Russian higher institutions appears downright dumping. Certainly, there are countries (for example, CIS states) where post-graduate training in a higher school is even cheaper (on the average - 1,000 to 1,500 US dollars, and some are even 500 USD). But if we compare them with the countries leading in the international market of education, the divergence would be shocking. For example, the cost of a two-year doctoral training in a university of Great Britain (similar to Russian doctorate and called "post degree research course") for a foreigner would be 64 to 100 thousand US dollars or more (excluding food, accommodation, etc.).

Nevertheless, almost each fourth foreign post-graduate respondent (23%, mainly from the CIS and African/Asian countries) considered Russian post-graduate training as very expensive. But the majority of respondents (61.9%) defined this cost as quite moderated, while one of seven respondents (15.1 %) even defined it as underrated. In this respect the opinion of a third - grade post-graduate student from Iran (thesis topic: "Influence of Iranian art on Russian textiles", training cost: 3,000 US dollars per year, the Moscow Sate Textile University named after А.N. Kosygin) is quite characteristic:
"You should raise the cost of post-graduate training to about 8,000 US dollars. You should pay more to professors, lecturers and other employees of the university. If you pay more, you could make educational process more up-to-date. You should further cooperate with higher institutions of other countries of the world, and should promote internationally the themes of your scientific works, and then more people would come here to write dissertations".

Amazingly, average cost of an academic year for foreign post-graduate students in Russian higher institutions (2,145 dollars) is just 150 USD higher than average annual cost of training for foreign graduate students (2,000 USD). In fact, post-graduate studies are a form of top professional training featuring more complex educational technology and higher qualification of the faculty. Post-graduate training (doctoral studies) abroad is much more expensive than university bachelor or master courses.

According to surveys, 26,4 % of respondents are trained in Russian post-graduate courses for free - at the expense of the Russian federal budget, under agreements of interuniversity exchange, etc. Other 22.9% of interviewed said that their training was supported (arranged) by the national Ministry of Education (which generally means that their training is conducted under agreements and as a part of scientific or technical programs of interuniversity cooperation). The remaining 50.7% of foreign post-graduate students trained under a contract (under direct contracts with payment by individual and legal entities) are financed by sponsors, organizations, enterprises, firms, parents of post-graduate students, or they pay themselves or received post-graduate grants.

Taking into account that the average annual cost of post-graduate training in Russia amounts to 2,145 USD, and the number of paid foreign post-graduate students totals to 1663 persons, the cumulative amount of all resources received by Russian higher institutions from foreign post-graduate in the same 2002/2003 academic year would make 3,359,050 US dollars (2,145 dollars X 1566 persons = 3,567,135 USD). It is 2.5 times less than income received from foreign trainees (8,7 million US dollars) and almost 10 times less than that from foreign students (100 million US dollars) excluding accommodation in the hostels of Russian higher institutions.

Taking into account that at least one of two foreign post-graduate students is trained in a Russian higher institution free of charge (and three of four post-graduate students in a higher institutions of the Russian Ministry of Education system), we could draw a conclusion that post-graduate courses of the Russian higher education (actually destitute in the way of financing as opposed to university post-graduate schools of industrially developed nations) train top professional staff for foreign countries on a charitable basis. On the one hand, this is possibly done for the state prestige reasons, and on the other hand, because of inability to attract foreign post-graduate students in a way other than extremely cheap or free educational services.

As a contrast, we should note that the share of Russian post-graduate students trained under direct contracts with legal and individual entities is 11%.

Source: the Proceedings of the World Forum of Foreign Alumni of Russian (Soviet) Higher Educational Institutions

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