For foreign students, Russia’s top polytechnic is SPbPU

10 November 2016 Elena Proshina, RIR
There are 4,500 international students on the rolls of the St. Petersburg Polytechnic University in 2015-16, making it the country’s most popular technical institute for non-Russians. Foreign students are taking double degrees, international Master’s degrees and exchange programmes at the university.
Foreign students in Peter the Great St.Petersburg Polytechnic University
Foreign students in Peter the Great St.Petersburg Polytechnic University Source:Press photo

Which programmes are popular with international students and why?

Besides traditional undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in Russian, found at all Russian universities, SPbPU offers a whole host of innovative international education programmes.

There is the Double Degree programme, with 29 units, which is increasingly in demand with foreign students. Dmitry Arsenev, Vice-rector for International Students at SPbP, said the international Master’s degree programmes in English are very popular among graduate students. Exchange programmes are also very popular, as are summer school courses at the institute.

The Polytechnic’s Summer School is among the biggest in Russia, attracting over 500 students from various countries. In fact, it is SPbPU’s calling card for foreign students and is a way to open up opportunities at the university and introduce the students to the available infrastructure there, to the campus and the people, after which many students return for long-term studies there.

Foreign students at the class in St. Petersburg Polytechnic University. / Source: Press photoForeign students at the class in St. Petersburg Polytechnic University. / Source: Press photo

Lindsey Collier from the United States chose SPbPU on the advice of a friend who had studied at the summer school. “Having come in September 2015 for a semester, I realized a month later that I wanted to stay on to continue my studies at SPbPU in the ‘Foreign regional studies’ programme,” said Collier.

All of these programmes are based on a module system, which helps attract foreign students to the university. Arsenev said SPbPU has a competitive advantage because foreign professors from leading universities around the world come here to lecture in English. 

“Because I teach courses as part of international postgraduate programmes, many of my students are always foreigners, and I really like to work with them,” Professor Olaf Hauer from Germany told RIR, sharing his views about the ideal university teaching method.

“In my opinion, the following teaching method is most effective: lecturing, then independent written work by students for which the teacher gives detailed feedback, so that the student can then complete their assignments. Then they can present their results to each other and then again can get feedback from each other and from their professors.”

The university preparatory department

The majority of international students who come to SPbPU do not find studying in English a priority. On the contrary, they are keen to attend lectures and study in Russian.

Foreign students at the internatinal center of the St. Petersburg Polytechnic University / Source: Press photoForeign students at the internatinal center of the St. Petersburg Polytechnic University / Source: Press photo

“In general, it is these applicants who do not speak fluent English or Russian [who come to the Preparatory Department] and for them it is of no great priority in which language they are studying, since they have to start from scratch anyway,” said Maria Vrublevskaya, head of the centre for international marketing and recruitment of foreign students to SPbPU.

Foreign applicants who wish to study at Russian universities but who do not have a basic understanding of their particular speciality and who do not speak Russian, tend to choose a pre-university training course at SPbPU as a start of their programme.

SPbPU has been providing professional training for students since 1965. According to the statistics, graduates of the university preparatory department enrol at scientific courses at various higher education institutions, not just at polytechnic universities.

Maiko Mizutani from Japan, for example, came to Russia to study at the Conservatory. She chose SPbPU to learn Russian. “In order to get a real Russian musical education I have to begin with learning Russian, so I went to listen to the pre-university training programmes at SPbPU,” she said.

Dan Thi Xuan from Vietnam, a graduate of the SPbPU preparatory department, came to St. Petersburg a few years ago. After completing his preparatory studies, he chose SPbPU to further his studies.

“My job in future will be to do with computer science and technology, and after studying at this university I’ll be in demand in my own country,” said Thi Xuan, who is currently studying at the Institute of Computer Science and Technology at SPbPU.

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