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Myths and Facts about Russian Education
March 14, 2006 14:49

Myth 1: Foreign students can work or get part time jobs.

It is not very easy to find/get part time jobs or work in Russia for a foreign student but not impossible. Some of the students have been able to get work as barmen, waiters or cooks` helpers and at some fast food stalls. There are few who work at nightclubs and discos. Of course, there also exists a possibility of working as a cleaner (in office or a private house), sometimes as a maid in a hotel (that may require some qualification), as a babysitter (also requires qualification and recommendations from previous employers), a loader or a house builder (this jobs are in high demand all the year round). Foreign students do not have job criteria, and the possibility for working is not very well defined in the law books, but basically it is not legal for foreigners to work, while being a student.

Myth 2: Teachers can be bribed for better exam results.

There have been many cases when students have offered bribes for better exam results. The problem was very common, especially during the 90's of the twentieth century. There is a very simple reason for this: students tempted professors/teachers!

The bare fact is Russian professors have very meager salary which usually is around some $60-$100 a month! And, as you can understand, they can be easily tempted with an additional $20... What I can say in this matter is that it is not the teacher that asks the student for a bribe but the student himself offers/tempts the teacher with it. Any hardworking and respectful student would not delve into such practices.

With the developing economy and financial conditions for teachers, this problem will very soon disappear. And, moreover, if you try to buy your examination results, what is the purpose for getting education then?

Myth 3: Students do not necessarily need to go for classes.

Many students from different countries have asked this question. I have the same reply for all of them: If you are good in a certain subject, then your can skip some lectures, but only some teachers will tolerate. Teachers practice roll call in order to make students attend their classes, and debar those students, who skip lectures, from examinations and tests. As with the previous question, some students have been able to foil this successfully with the help of money, but can you imagine what happens to them, when they have to work on their projects?

Myth 4: Russian students bully their classmates from foreign countries (based on the foreign student's story).

I have studied in different parts of the world and I should confess that Russian universities do not have such traditions as "ragging" or "flaying" unlike most of the educational institutions in India and some western countries. Russian students respect the presence of a foreigner in their group or just ignore them, in this case too: the choice is yours, you be friends with them or you do not.

Fact: Russian students do not bully foreigners.

Myth 5: Russia is very cheap and economical for students.

Yes, Russian education is cheap and the Russian lifestyle is still not of a high standard as of the European countries but since the country is going through a very progressive economical change, the inflation problem is as same as anywhere in the world.

The usual yearly inflation is between 7% and 20%! The cost of living is also rapidly increasing, but Russia still is one of the cheapest among the European countries. Keep in mind that education fees and living expenses in large cities can differ from that in smaller towns. You can also try to find some job for extra pocket money (refer to the Myth 1).

Fact: You should not make financial plans for the whole 6-7 years of your study in the beginning.

Myth 6: Russian locals rob and beat up foreigners.

This is the most frequently asked question! In the past few years there have been many incidents in St Petersburg and Moscow, in which foreign students have been beaten up by the so called "Skin Heads". The torturing fact is that these hooligans have a legal and active political party; the mayor of Moscow has banned any form of demonstration from members of this organization. This is the problem not only for foreigners, but for locals themselves - they can be beaten as easily as any foreigner, if a hooligan didn't like the appearance.

Though the problem has been continuing for some years, it still reoccurs everywhere once in a while. Many say that these incidents have been ignored while others say that it has been eradicated totally. Recent articles in press announce state foreign students` safety campaign.

Suggestion: These kind of incidents can be avoided, if the student follows some basic social rules: Control yourself on different provocations, cut on late night activities that force you to commute back home alone and there is nothing better than being in a good company of friends when around the city.

Tags: Russian universities education in Russia    

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