03 July 2019

Yulia V. Ivanona: «Welcome to SPbGASU!»

Ю.В. Иванова

Each year, the number of foreign students at St. Petersburg State University of Architecture and Civil Engineering is growing. Nowadays, young people from more than 60 countries study at the university. How can a young person from another country enroll at SPbGASU? Is it easy for foreign students to adapt in our city? Is it difficult to study in a foreign language? Dean for the work with foreign students Yulia V. Ivanova answered these and other questions.

 — Could you please tell us when foreign students were first admitted to our university? 

— As far as I know, the first admission of foreign students took place in 1946. These were students from the socialist countries of Europe and from China.

— Which countries do young people come from today to study at SPbGASU?

— Presently, international students from 63 countries study at the university, which amounts to almost 10% of the total community of SPbGASU students. Most of them are citizens of the CIS countries, the former republics of the Soviet Union. We have many students from Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Belarus, Ukraine and Moldova. There also are students from the Baltic countries. 20% of our international community are students from other countries of Europe, Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Latin America.

— Is it true that students from other countries have good career prospects after studying at SPbGASU?

— Many students from CIS countries after graduation receive residence permits, and, later on, Russian citizenship, and stay to work in Russia. Students from non-CIS countries mainly return to their home countries. Many of those already have plans: they know where they are going to work. Some students continue their studies in graduate and postgraduate programs. Young people find work and combine it with studying at SPbGASU. They like to study and live in Russia, and they do not plan to return to their homeland. They have more prospects in our country.

— How foreign students can enroll at our university?

— We have three lines of admission. First, students from the CIS countries can enroll at the university on the general basis, applying for state-funded seats like Russian applicants, as compatriots living abroad. This applies to those young people who speak Russian fluently. Since they do not pass the USE, they are selected through entrance examinations at the university. The second line is contract-based admission. As part of it, we accept students who can to pay for their education at SPbGASU and who have passed the entrance tests. 

Customarily, students who come from the non-CIS countries, such as China, Morocco, Algeria, Syria, other countries of the Arab world and from the CIS countries are enrolled on the contract basis.

If the students do not speak Russian, we invite them to study at the preparatory department for 9 months. This training is also provided on the contract basis. At the end of the course, students take exams and in the case of successful completion, they receive certificates of completion. After that, young people can enroll at our or other St. Petersburg universities. Up to 70% of those who successfully graduated from the preparatory department go to SPbGASU. 

The third line is for the foreign students and compatriots who are sent to us for training along the state-funded line, i.e., on the quotas of the Ministry of Education and Science of Russia. The number of such young people goes up every year: in 2019, 85 seats are reserved for those. These students do not pay for their studies and receive scholarships. Some of them have scholarships from their home countries.

— How are these students selected?

— The selection procedure is as follows: applicants for studying in Russia are selected in their own countries through the representative offices of Rossotrudnichestvo, at RCSCs (Russian Centers for Culture and Science) through interviews and competitions. After that, applicants' documents are sent to the Ministry of Education and Science of Russia. The ministry places the questionnaires and documents of candidates for studies at universities in Russia in the electronic system for forming and distributing quotas, through which our university conducts the selection. We carefully examine documents of each applicant, their successes and achievements in academic and public life, and try to select the best applicants, focused on training.

Unfortunately, some of the foreign citizens who come to study at SPbGASU or other Russian universities, in fact, pursue other but educational goals. They want to get out of their countries, where a war or an unfavorable political or economic situation has developed. They are trying to find a legitimate way to come to Russia; they want to escape from the problems that exist in their countries. More often than not, such young people get expelled in the first and second year of studies, and we have to send them home.

 — It must be rather difficult for foreign students to study here: they have to learn in a foreign language. Is it possible to master a technical specialty in a foreign language?

— It is not easy for our students. It is especially hard for the young people from abroad, with poor knowledge of Russian. They have to be engaged in Russian in the course of their studies, independently or at training courses. Most of the problems with the progress of foreign students are associated with their poor knowledge of the Russian language and missing classes with no reason. In the 2018/2019 academic year, about 20% of full-time international students were expelled for their academic failures. The good news is that most of the expelled students were later on restored at the university, one grade lower and on a fee-based training basis. Unfortunately, there still are international students who do not understand that skipping classes leads to expulsion. We hold annual meetings of first-grade students and, during the academic year, we hold meetings of all international students, at which we keep explaining the rules of studying at our university and the rules of staying in Russia. We urge them not to miss classes without a good reason, and to observe the rules of the migration legislation of the Russian Federation. There were cases when international students with good academic results were expelled from the university and sent home for precisely this reason: for violating the laws of the migration registration. After that, such foreign nationals lose the opportunity to get back to the university.

— What are the main difficulties in adaptation of foreign students? After all, they are detached from their families, come to a country with a different climate.

— Yes, the adaptation period is far from easy. Foreign students are separated from their usual life, climate, food, parents and home conditions. It is especially difficult for students from African and Middle Eastern countries, some of the students get sick. 

The first training year is the hardest for them, bu, gradually, they adapt to our cold and damp climate, buy warm clothes, get used to our food, and learn to live independently. We have a Student Council of foreign students, which includes senior students. They assist and support freshmen in their adaptation. Most foreign students live in the dormitory, they are not divorced from their fellow countrymen, they find new friends, actively communicate and study together, play sports, attend various interest groups and sections of the university. This way, the adaptation to new living conditions is easier and faster for them

— What conditions are provided to foreign students at the university dormitories?

— Most of our students live in the dormitory No. 1 at #123 Fontanka River Embankment and at the dormitory No 3, at #5 Boytsova Lane. Both foreign and Russian students stay in the first dormitory. This is a corridor-type dormitory; foreign students live with three roommates in each room. Contract students, who can pay for more comfortable conditions, mostly live in the dormitory #3. This is a dormitory of the block type; it has improved living conditions and better comfort

 — Do foreign students prefer to live in dormitories or rent an apartment?

— 90% of them live in the SPbGASU dormitories. After all, our dormitories are located in the center of St. Petersburg, within walking distance from the university. Nearby them are the historical and cultural monuments of our city. Students do not need to use public transport, they can go anywhere on foot.

 — What would you say to a young man, a foreigner, who wants to study in St. Petersburg and is considering our university?

— We invite students from all over the world to study at SPbGASU. Employees of the University participate in educational exhibitions that take place abroad, in outdoor events in the CIS and Baltic countries. We work with recruiting companies and organizations. 

Our university is motivating foreign citizens, because its graduates have perfect career prospects and professional future. We are open to dialogue and cooperation and we are always ready to consider foreign citizens as candidates for university students. Welcome to SPbGASU!

Interviewed by Elena Shulgina


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