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7 Facts about Foreign Students

The Higher School of Economics has entered the top 5 of Russian universities most popular with foreigners, according to Rossotrudnichestvo (in terms of the number of applications for quotas submitted in the 2018/19 academic year). Gathered facts about international student mobility in the world, the country, HSE and the ISSEK 'Governance of Science, Technology and Innovation' Master’s programme.

Кадр с Парада национальностей (День Вышки в Парке Горького - 2018)
HSE Day-2018. The Whole World at HSE: Parade of Nationalities. Photo: HSE press service

1. There are about 4.5 million students in the world who study outside of their own country.
Source: OECD

2. In 2017, Russia accepted 296 176 foreign students. Approximately the same amount go to Australia and Canada. The main incoming flow of foreign students accounts for the USA (1,078 thousand), Great Britain (501 thousand) and China (443 thousand).
Source: Institute of International Education (USA)

3. Although Russia is in the top 10 countries in terms of the number of foreign students, their relative share in the total number of students remains quite low (4%). For comparison: in Austria, Switzerland, Australia, Great Britain this figure is 15–19%, in Latvia, Finland, Germany — 5–8%.
Source: Education at a Glance: 2018

4. 77.5% of foreign students in higher education institutions studying in Russia are citizens of the CIS and Baltic states. Almost every fourth student (24.3%), who comes to Russia from far abroad, comes from China.
Source: Indicators of Education in the Russian Federation: 2017

5. 1547 foreign students have been enrolled in the bachelor’s and master’s programmes at HSE in the 2018/19 academic year. In 2017, according to the report of the rector, 2,760 foreign students were studying at HSE, and their share in the total number of students was 8.9%. Up to 75% of foreign HSE students are citizens of the CIS.

6. At HSE, there are 2 English-language bachelor’s programmes in economics and international relations in partnership with the University of London and 24 English-language master’s programmes.
Source: Rector's report at the end of 2017

7. 40% of students enrolled in the academic year 2018/2019 for the HSE ISSEK English-language master's programme 'Governance of Science, Technology and Innovation' came from abroad. This is the highest figure in the five years of the programme.


The share of foreign students affects the position of the university in two of the three most famous world university rankings — Times Higher Education and QS. View HSE positions in international rankings

In order to increase the competitiveness of leading Russian universities among the world's leading research and educational centers, in 2012, Project 5-100 was launched in Russia. 

At the moment at the state level in Russia there are three main mechanisms for supporting the attraction of foreign students: 

  • providing scholarships for training foreign citizens, stateless persons, including compatriots living abroad, within the framework of quotas of the Government of the Russian Federation (Government Resolution No. 891 of October 8, 2013);
  • providing equal opportunities for entering higher educational institutions with citizens of the Russian Federation for living abroad compatriots (in accordance with the Decree of the President of the Russian Federation of June 22, 2006 No. 637);
  • providing equal opportunities for admission to higher education institutions for citizens of a number of countries with which intergovernmental agreements have been concluded (for example, in accordance with the Treaty on Enhancing Integration in the Economic and Humanitarian Areas of March 29, 1996, citizens of Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan may be accepted for training on a par with citizens of Russia).

Source: Nefedova A.I. Scales, structure and goals of exporting Russian higher education // World of Russia: Sociology, Ethnology. 2017. V. 26. No. 2. P. 154–174

Read on the topic:

Why International Students Choose the Study at Higher School of Economics?

Training foreign students in Russian universities is an instrument of soft power strategy (in Russian)

Nefedova A.I. (2017) Export of Russian higher education: features of formation and structuring of demand. (PhD thesis for the degree of sociological sciences).

Nefedova A. I. The export model of Russian higher education // EKO. 2017. No. 12. P. 136-148. 


Facts prepared by Alena Nefedova

Graphics:  flaticon.com/authors/prosymbols