THINK Russia, and the Bolshoi ballet and snow-covered landscapes come to mind, as well as other things.
“Previously, when people say Russia, they think of a communist country, but it is different now. There are lots of opportunities for everyone there,” said Lomonosov Moscow State University (MSU) Foreign Affairs Department head Prof Viadimir Sokolov.
In conjunction with the Russia Education Fair road show, six professors from MSU and Tula State University are on a mission to promote Russian education among Malaysians and to foster bilateral ties.
The fair which began on April 28 in Kuala Lumpur, covers Johor Baru, Penang and Kota Kinabalu, before ending in Kuching on May 18.
“We want to set up an academic collaboration with Malaysia because there are students here interested to pursue studies in Russia,” said Prof Sokolov.
He added that China is sending about 1,000 students to MSU every year and “we're trying to do the same in Malaysia, although our countries are so far in distance from each other. It's not an obstacle for collaboration, especially in the field of science and technology.”
MSU is introducing its degree programmes in medicine, engineering, science and humanities to Malaysians.
“So far, we have had 25 to 30 students interested to pursue their studies in Russia and the most sought-after courses were medicine and engineering. MSU is big on medicine and Tula State offers top quality education in engineering. Nuclear weapons are built there,” said Prof Sokolov.
The universities are inviting students to enrol for a one-year preparatory course, which will commence in September. The fee for the entire course is RM 6,840 in Tula and RM9,120 at MSU.
MSU deputy dean of International Education Programme Prof Vassili Loginov said the cost of living in Russia is not high. “Students can get by with RM600 a month for pocket money, and about RM380 a month for accommodation,” he added.
Prof Viadimir said foreign students would not receive financial aid from Russia and “the only form of support they can apply for is a scholarship from their home country.”
“A medical degree at MSU costs RM250,000 for the duration of seven years (inclusive of the one-year preparatory course), while studying at Tula State would cost around RM150,000,” said Business Heights Sdn Bhd managing director Harry Ratnaike.
On whether language would be a barrier, he said a Russian language course would be offered to students although the programmes are taught entirely in English.
“It is important for them (students) to learn our language simply because it would be easier to communicate with the patients and the general public,” he added.
Representatives from both countries said they are confident that many Malaysians will enrol for the programmes once they are accredited by the National Accreditation Board (LAN) and approved by the Education Ministry.
“After meeting with the Private Education Department recently, we hope to obtain accreditation within six months,” said Prof Sokolov, adding that there are about 400 Malaysian students studying in other Moscow universities.
Set up in 1755, MSU is said to use exceptional scientific and methodological approaches in its teaching. The university has 2,000 foreign students enrolled in various programmes.
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