The Global Education Scholarship Program was established in 2014, and carried out its pilot phase until 2016. Last month, the Russian government signed a decree to guarantee its continuation until 2025.
The total number of students who can study abroad through the program is 718, said Ksenia Ivanenko, program manager, but due to the popularity the program has garnered, and the 25,000 registrations currently on the website, the quota is expected to be met soon.
“The program initially was designed to develop the regions, especially in Siberia, and remote areas”
“Once the quota of 718 students is filled, the project office is expected to monitor the current students and help them with job placement,” she told The PIE News.
“For instance, if a student starts the study program in 2017 and studies up to five years, he or she comes back in 2022. With the three-year home residency and job requirements, we have 2025.”
The scholarship program funds each student a fixed amount of $47,000 for their studies, which can be put towards tuition fees and living expenses.
Initially, it had planned to fund 1,000 postgraduate students, but the currency crash at the end of 2014 reduced the number, according to Ivanenko.
To be eligible, students need to be accepted into one of 288 top universities across 32 countries.
The program also requires that upon completing their studies overseas, the students must return to Russia to work for a minimum of three years.
The recently signed decree has increased the proportion of returnees who will be able to work in Moscow or St Petersburg to 25%. When the program was first implemented, only 10% of returnees were able to work in these cities in a bid to aid progress in less central regions.
“The program initially was designed to develop the regions, especially in Siberia, and remote areas, so we can talk about equal access, so citizens of the Russian Federation no matter where they are located they can get opportunities to study abroad,” said Ivanenko.
Among the 495 students selected for the program to date, the UK has been the most popular destination, chosen by 176 students, followed by Australia and Germany.
The scholarship program also has a job placement service which helps the returnees secure employment on their return, at one of over 600 companies.
“Our department starts helping them with some training, how to write résumés, how to get through interviews,” said Ivanenko. “And they’re also in touch with HR departments of those companies, so it means we provide as much assistance as we can.”