The big beautiful Russia is one of the largest countries in the world, and every year hundreds of thousands of prospective students apply to study there. If you decide to study in Russia too, then you have a choice of around 800 universities such as MGIMO University, St. Petersburg State University, ITMO University or Lomonosov Moscow State University (which is a prestigious university, ranked as one of the best universities in Russia).

The Russian education system is not exempt from formalities, however. So while it is open to exchange students from all over the world it is not ‘easy’ to be accepted on to a study abroad program. Although like your home country and like different countries in the world there is a process to follow.

If you are interested in Discovering how to become a student in Russia then read on! We will lay it out step by step and hopefully get you on the way to your new study abroad or student exchange life in the mother Russia.

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  1. Find A University Of Interest That Offers Your Course.

This is not too different to what you would do if choosing to study in your home country. If you want to have a university education then you need to make some choices about what you want to study and where you want to study. While this isn’t unique to Russia the small difference is that once you have selected you need to make sure that they have an exchange program for international students that want to study the course that you are interested in.

It is worth doing the research well at this stage and writing a few emails to be sure that you have selected wisely.

You can also:

  • Speak to another prospective applicant and do it together
  • Speak to other students who have been to the university
  • Use the study in Russia website
  • Speak to exchange student from your current university that studied in Russia
  • Contact the university and ask
  • Join forums and groups online to learn more about studying in Russia.
  1. Get Accepted Into A Russian University

This is the first step to making your dream of study in Russia real. You must be accepted into your choose university be sure to have a top 3 list so that if you don’t get into your first choice that you have other options available. Because to be accepted at Russian universities, is not easy mainly due to the fact that there are approximately 2,400 programs available to international students all over Russia, and each has a different admission system.

In general, you must apply between January and March of the year you wish to study in Russia (for September classes).

  1. Carry Out All The Administrative Formalities For Russia

Congratulations! If you have been accepted to study in a Russian university then you will now need to begin the formalities of applying for a student visa and setting up your life in Russia. You should have received a confirmation email with the next steps of your administrative registration, which must be followed precisely.

  • the first thing to check is that you have a passport valid for at least 6 months after the end of your Russian education, otherwise you will have to renew it ( give yourself between 2 weeks and 2 months to do so should this be the case).
  • If you need help you can always ask, but because they will be dealing with a high number of students you may have to wait a bit to get an answer. Remember the clock is ticking so go to your universities study abroad centre or call them if they don’t get back to you quickly.

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Choose from the best Russian Universities
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  1. The Student Visa

Visas maybe the main cause of your stress over the next weeks. You will have to learn to follow the procedures set out for you in the instructions. If they ask you to fill in the form in black do not fill it in with blue ink because you do not have a black pen. To you, it may seem petty but to them, it could be caused to deny your application. Just follow the steps as a robot would ask when you don’t understand, get it checked before submission and provide everything they ask for and you will likely be approved the first time.

Things to know about your visa :

  • You can get a visa from the Russian embassy.
  • If you are a prospective student, a first visa "single entry", will be provided. It will then be necessary to apply for renewal once you have arrived in Russia so that you can upgrade this visa to a long stay multi-entry visa.
  • Your visa is pasted in your passport and stamped every time you leave and return.
  • Your visa is essential because you can not enter Russia without it and even your university will check its validity.
  • The visa dates are extremely strict: the start date should match your arrival in the country, and your visa expiration date is the maximum date you can stay. No exceptions are possible.

Once you have your Visa you can celebrate as this will be the majority of the admin that you have to do to study in Russia. Remember it will be necessary to provide the following documents:

  • Your passport,
  • Your letter of invitation (either issued by the Federal Immigration Service or by the university directly),
  • A certificate of insurance, including repatriation insurance up to 30,000 euros,
  • The visa application form, to be completed on the website of the Ministry,
  • Identity photos of 3.5 x 4.5 cm,
  • A medical certificate and AIDS screening.

The student visa application form may not be well translated into English, hence you may not understand everything clearly. Which is why you must get some help or at least have someone check over your form. You may be asked for other administrative steps for your trip to Russia, such as:

Fill out a file for the university,

  • Apply for a Russian student card.
  1. You May Need To Take A Pre University Course

If you don’t speak Russian you may have to take a pre-university course which will give you some valuable resources and check if you are ready to study in Russia. Since almost all courses are taught in Russian.

  1. Take A Russian Language Course

In the summer before your arrival in Russia, you should take a course to learn Russian language skills. Understand In Russia people speak Russian. Not English not Russ-Lish but Russian. If you don’t learn at least some of the basic like reading Cyrillic you will struggle. You could study in any of the following ways:

  • Hire a private tutor and create an intensive curriculum.
  • Take an intensive course
  • Buy an app like rosetta stone
  • Use a language program or app on your phone.
  1. Apply For Funding

15,000 foreign students every year get access to a Russian government scholarship which could essentially give you free education. If you apply for your university through the Russia study website, you can apply for up to 6 universities and also apply for scholarships. Why not try to be one of the lucky 15,000 students.

You can also apply to a Russian education competition which gives the lucky winner an all-expenses paid education at the university of their choice. Just make sure to meet the deadline for the application so that you don’t miss out.

If you are not accepted then you need to think about self-funding or applying elsewhere for a scholarship. In this case, you also need to consider how you will manage funds in Russia, applying for a bank account could be useful.

  1. Housing Formalities

Now to find out where you are going to live while you study. Russian university housing is the most common form of accommodation. But in Russia, you can select from a wide range of options but the best options, which are easiest to arrange are:

  • In a host family,
  • In a university dormitory.
  1. Booking Your Flight

Since you will be studying overseas and plan to be in Russia for at least a year you will have to book a one way flight. However, sometimes a one way flight can be more expensive than a return. In this case, buy your flight with an airline that will allow you to have an open ticket on the return leg or that offer to let you change the return ticket for free to at a low cost. Then you will get a good price with little to no issues about returning home.

Studying In Russia: How to Choose Your University?
If you decide to study in Russia you will not be disappointed. Photo Source: Unsplash
  1. What Are The Main Russian Things To Know Live Well?

  • The Russian Country code: +7
  • The currency is rubles (no! your currency will not work in Russia) Rubles divided into 100 kopeks
  • The capital city is Moscow
  • Russia uses 2 pin 220-volt electricity like the rest of Europe
  • Beware of petty crime keep your things safe
  • Police have blue and grey uniform and will ask to check your papers make sure you have them of at least a digital copy or you may get a fine.
  • For emergencies: fire is 01, Police 02 and ambulance 03
  • You shouldn’t drink tap water
  • Follow the rules and you will be fine
  1. Once You Have Arrived

  • Check in with the international office student adviser or counsellor so that you have a point of contact should you need help or support.
  • Ask for advice on how to get your residence and upgrade your visa, even if you know it is always best to ask as laws and rules can change at any time. Before you start your new life, check that you have done everything needed for the academic year.
    • You must make sure that you are registered once you have arrived.
  • Enrol with a language program to continue learning Russian
  • Get enrolled in some student groups so that you don’t feel isolated and you can make friends quickly.
  • Understand that you decided to go abroad which means you have to make a bit of extra effort. Also, in this case, things that may seem weird are actually normal and you are the one who is weird since you are the overseas student. Remain open-minded and non-judgemental.

It is time to soak up Russian culture and enjoy your time. So, are you ready to go to the Russian Federation?

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