Higher Education In Russia



Russia is a relatively new but becoming increasingly popular destination for Malaysians to pursue higher education studies. In August 2001 Malaysian Government recognized the Diplomas of five Russian Higher Medical Educational Institutions in the cities of Moscow, Kursk, Nizny Novgorod and Volgograd. Work to recognize more institutions is on-going. Currently, there are more than 3,000 Malaysians studying medicine in Russia.

The Russian educational system has gained profound theoretical and practical experience in training foreign specialists. Foreign students have been studying in Russian universities since 1865. Nowadays over 200,000 students from more than 168 countries of the world pursue their studies in Russia on fee-paying basis. Each year, up to 15,000 foreign students are enrolled in Russian higher education institutions. Besides, annually the Russian Government allocates a certain number state-funded places at Russian universities for international students. For example, 15,000 state-funded places were allocated in 2015.


Formal education in Russia starts at the age of 6 – 7 and comprises 4 years of primary general education, 5 years of basic general education and 2 – 3 years of complete secondary education (or high school). Students who successfully complete 11 years sit for entry exams to higher educational institutions in Russia or continue their education abroad.

Higher education courses are available for academic and professional studies at universities, academies and institutes.

Every year, a total of 600,000 Russians and foreign students are admitted to 950 Russian higher educational institutions with academic staff of 320,000 comprising full professors, associate professors, lecturers, etc.

Courses and Degrees

The Russian Federation’s higher education system offers a wide range of study and research programmes designed to meet every possible academic need of students and scholars.

There are three levels of higher education studies in Russia:

Level 1 – Bachelor’s Degree

Individuals who have completed education equivalent to Russian general secondary or vocational secondary education can pursue a Bachelor’s Degree course. The minimum duration of the course is 4 years and gives general fundamental training.

At the end of their degree, students defend their thesis. If successful, the student is awarded a Bachelor’s Degree (BA, BSc). The degree grants the student the right to work according to profession or to further their studies on a Master’s Degree course.

Level 2 – Specialist Degree

Unlike Bachelor’s Degrees, Specialist Degrees are more focused on practical work in industry based on the selected discipline. These programmes are offered to individuals with education equivalent to Russian general secondary or vocational secondary education. The minimum duration of the course is 5 years. Based on the examination results and thesis, a Specialist Degree Certificate specifying the qualification (e.g., “Astronomer,” “Teacher,” “Information Security Specialist,” etc.) may be issued. Graduates of a Specialist Degree may work in industry or further their studies at Master’s or other postgraduate level course.

Master’s Degree

This offers in-depth specialisation in the student’s chosen field. Bachelor’s and Specialist Degree holders can enrol in Master’s Degree courses. The minimum duration of the course is 2 years and involves training for research work. Students defend a thesis which, if successful, leads to a Master’s Degree.

Graduates of Master’s Degrees may work in industry or further their studies at the postgraduate level.

Level 3 – Highest Professional Training

Postgraduate Course is an academic training. Graduates of a Master’s or Specialist Degree can pursue a postgraduate course. The course includes study, teaching, hands-on experience, and research.

Postgraduate students select a research field and subject of research for their dissertation.  The minimum duration of the full-time course is 3 years, while the minimum duration of part-time course is 4 years. A graduate is awarded a postgraduate degree with the corresponding qualification (“Research Fellow,” “Research Teaching Fellow”). Depending on the result of the dissertation, in the science disciplines, a Science Degree is awarded for Science students. This is the first Degree to confirm the status of scientist.

Candidates of Sciences proceed to their Doctoral Degree (the second Degree to confirm the status of scientist), which is awarded following successful defence of their doctoral dissertation.

Postgraduate Military Course is the equivalent of a university postgraduate course; however, it is only related to the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs and Ministry of Defence.

An Internship is a postgraduate course for graduates of medical universities leading to a professional qualification. The duration of the course is one year. The course is a practical placement at a medical institution under the mentoring of senior colleagues.

Medical Residency is the final stage of training in a number of medical (or pharmaceutical) fields. Individuals who hold a higher medical (or pharmaceutical) qualification can pursue a medical residency. The duration of the course is 2 years and is a combination of in-depth study of the rudiments of medical sciences with hands-on experience in medical institutions where students develop the necessary professional skills and abilities. The course concludes with a three-stage qualification examination. Graduates are awarded a medical residency certificate and the qualification of specialist, enabling them to work in medical institutions.

An Assistantship is the training of highly qualified personnel working in the arts. Graduates of Specialist or Master’s Degrees in this field can pursue assistantships. The duration of the course is 2 years and follows a tailor-made syllabus under the supervision of a mentor and the head of department at the university. The graduate may work for the performance or film industry; or at a concert, a show or an exhibition depending on the specialisation. An assistantship concludes with the award of a certificate, with the respective qualification (“Concert Performer and University Professor”), granting the right to perform or teach.

Academic Year

The academic year lasts ten months from 1 September to 25 June of the following year. It is divided into 2 semesters with a break from January 25 to February 6.


Students are required to have the education equivalent to the complete secondary education in Russia. Their performance in basic subjects should not be less than 80 per cent of the highest score and in other subjects should be above average.

There should not be a lapse of more than 3 years between graduation from school, college or technical college and entering a higher education institution in Russia. It is preferable that the age of students for admission does not exceed 27 years.

The age of students who pursue postgraduate courses should preferably not exceed 35 years.

It is necessary for all students to undergo medical examination, including HIV Blood Test, and obtain medical certificate certifying that Russian climate is not detrimental to their health.

Entrance examination & medium of instruction

Fee-paying foreign students will normally be required to pass the language test in order to be qualified for admission. Those who select Russian as the language of instruction are to attend Russian language course and pass the final exam to qualify for admission.

At present several prominent Russian Universities and Academies offer English, French and other languages as the medium of instruction for foreign students.


Russian State higher education institutions offer fee-paying courses for Russian and foreign students. Tuition fees depend on the medium of instruction and may vary from one institution to another, from one discipline to another.

In 2014, the minimum tuition at Russian universities in full-time Bachelor’s Degree Programmes was 63,000 roubles a year ( USD1,100 ) ( according to the standards established by the Russian Ministry of Education and Science). The maximum tuition fee at the most prestigious universities in the capital was as high as 344,000 roubles a year ( USD6,100 US ), according to data from ratings agency Expert1.

Cost of living differs from city to city. Tuition, accommodation and living costs outside Moscow and Saint Petersburg, are lower. (Refer university websites for more detailed information on tuition fee). It is recommended that students studying in Moscow have at least US$150 – US$200 per month for food and clothing. Students are also advised to have appropriate clothing for all seasons, including warm clothing for autumn, winter and early spring.


Hostels are practically available at every Russian higher education institution. Indeed, institutions have an obligation to provide students with places in hostels. Accommodation is in rooms shared with one or two other students. Some foreign students prefer to rent shared apartments.

Insurance/ Health Care

Foreign students must obtain medical insurance in the Russian Federation, which includes all medical aid and services, except for chronic diseases and orthodontics. Students enjoying RF State scholarships will receive a significant premium reduction.


There is no central advisory service for students planning to study at Russian higher education institutions. Students can obtain information and advice from Russian Centre of Science and Culture in Kuala Lumpur or visit www.russia.org.my or call: 03-21444001 or email: rcsc@russia.org.my

Foreign Students Departments are available at all Russian higher education institutions. They provide students with the necessary information and assistance. Academic advisors are also available at all Russian higher education institutions.


The entry visa and registration upon arrival are necessary. Visa processing takes 5-6 weeks.

PART-TIME employment

Students may take up part-time employment. Job opportunities are available on campus and through general employment agencies. Work permit is required and is issued by the relevant higher education institution and the local authorities.

Cultural life & leisure

Students can go in for a wide range of cultural activities in their free time. Student travel agencies arrange trips, which provide an insight into the history and geography of Russia. Museums and galleries give students a greater understanding of the cultural and intellectual background of the country. Some theatres, museums and cinemas offer discounts to students. Cultural events are held on campus, usually free of charge or at a very low price. Students can also participate in scientific societies and other activities of their interest.


The Russian government offers scholarships which cover tuition and living allowance (for the entire duration of study regardless of the candidate’s performance) as well as dormitory accommodation (if available). In 2015, the average scholarship amounted to 1,300 roubles a month (approximately USD26). This is the amount received by the student for personal expenses after having the tuition fees waived. More information on scholarships is available at http://studyinrussia.ru/en/study-in-russia/scholarships/

For further information on higher education in Russia, Malaysian students can contact:

Russia Centre of Science & Culture
205 Lorong Ampang 2, off Jalan Ampang
50450 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03-21444001
Email: rcsc@russia.org.my
Web: www.russia.org.my


Ms Wee Hui Bieh, AFMSA, June 2016

Information verified by:
Russia Centre of Science & Culture, Kuala Lumpur.

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