Posted: 13.09.2023 17:39:00

Knowledge without borders

Export of educational services annually brings about $90 million to the republican budget

Belarusian education is valued in the world: citizens from more than 110 countries come to our country for a diploma. It is generally recognised that we have a high quality of teaching, a good material and technical base of educational institutions, a beautiful country in which there is something to see and where to relax. In addition, Belarusians are open, friendly and tolerant people who respect other people’s customs, traditions and interests. How much does it cost to study in Belarus for foreigners, is it possible to study for free, how the export of educational services is progressing — we talked about this and other things with Andrei Krasutsky, Deputy Head of the International Co-operation Department of the Education Ministry.

Aleksey Stolyarov

Interest is increasing

 — How many foreign students are currently registered in the country’s universities?
— More than 28.5 thousand foreign students studied at higher education institutions in the 2022/23 academic year, which is 12 percent of all students.
— What is the rate in other countries?
— According to the data on international student mobility, presented by the joint global research initiative Project Atlas, the percentage of foreign students to domestic students in each country is different depending on national priorities. Thus, in France there are 15 percent of foreign students in higher education institutions, in Russia — 10.7 percent, in the USA — 4.9 percent, in China only 0.5 percent.
— Where do young people come to us to study?
— The export geography of educational services is extensive — over 110 countries. Foreign citizens study in almost all state institutions of higher education, as well as in some private ones.
Thanks to the similarity of educational programmes due to the preserved traditions of the Soviet higher education, the practical absence of a language barrier, a significant share falls on foreign students from the CIS countries and the EAEU — 42 percent of the total. At the same time, students from Uzbekistan make up 18.8 percent of all students, from Turkmenistan — 14, Russia — 6.3.
China remains the undisputed leader in terms of the number of foreign students in Belarus — 32 percent.
The potential of the national education of Belarus is of interest to the citizens of many African countries. We have students from more than 30 African countries, with foreign citizens from Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Cameroon, Morocco and Egypt prevailing.
Recently, representatives of the states of the so-called far arc, who have not previously studied in Belarus, are increasingly encountered. For example, from New Zealand, Wallis and Fortune, Central African Republic, El Salvador.
— What determines the demand for our education?
— We have created programmes for different levels of education that are of interest to foreign students: bachelor’s and master’s programmes in English, double diploma programmes, additional professional education programmes, advanced training, summer schools, Russian language courses, distance learning and others.
— Are domestic colleges popular?
— More than a thousand young people from other countries study in the system of secondary specialised and vocational education, mainly citizens of Russia (54 percent), Ukraine (16.5 percent) and Kazakhstan (6.7 percent).

Amount involved

— How much does it cost to study in our educational institutions for visitors from abroad?
— The cost of education is determined by the educational institution for the academic year, depending on the form of education. It is established in the amount of economically justified costs necessary for the training of specialists in a particular specialty. Depending on this, as well as the language of instruction, the cost of education in Belarus for foreign citizens varies from 2 to 5.7 thousand dollars a year.
— How much does the export of educational services bring?
— It brings about $90 million to the republican budget annually.
— I heard that foreign students can study here for free. How does it work?
— Thanks to the support of the Head of State for the implementation of specific joint projects in foreign countries and the training of personnel for them, the promotion of initiatives aimed at strengthening the foreign economic and foreign policy relations of the Republic of Belarus, a system of grants has been operating since 2018. In accordance with the Decree of the President ‘On Grants for Education’, up to 100 quotas are allocated annually from the republican budget for the education of foreign citizens in our educational institutions. This mechanism is in demand among the target foreign audience. If in 2019, 19 foreign citizens were enrolled in educational institutions at the expense of grants for education, then in 2023 — already 52.

Technological and comfortable

 — Please tell us about the conditions that are created for those who come to study here.
— Modern educational infrastructure is an important aspect of the attractiveness of domestic education for foreign students.
To do this, classrooms are being equipped for laboratory and practical classes with special equipment, computer equipment. The technical base is being updated to improve the quality of online educational events.
To create comfortable living conditions for students, three dormitories for 2760 places are being built for BNTU, BSUPC, BSUIR and BSMU. In addition, the major overhaul of the BSTU dormitory for 960 people is being completed.
— What else is being done to promote the export of educational services?
— I would like to note that work to increase and diversify the export of educational services is being carried out as part of the Action Plan for the implementation of the Concept for the Development of the Export of Educational Services (promotion of the Education in Belarus brand) for 2022-2025, other programme documents in co-operation with the republican government bodies and our foreign institutions.
Universities and colleges regularly update information on the English version of their websites, post advertising and information materials about the benefits of educational programmes on export information support portals, send video materials for placement on the specialised YouTube channel Study in Belarus Online in Russian and English with subtitles. They also manage accounts on popular social networks.
Data on the issues of training foreign citizens in the system of vocational education are posted on the official website of the Education Ministry, on the Vocational Education in Belarus website, as well as on the websites of Belarusian foreign institutions.
A presentation catalogue on the education system in Belarus has been developed in Russian and English in printed and electronic form. Presentation and exhibition events are held to promote the educational services of higher education institutions. The format of joint educational programmes is actively used, which is most in demand with Chinese, Russian and Uzbek partners.

Top 5,000 different ratings include ten Belarusian institutions:
♦ Belarusian State University (QS, SIR, WRWU, Unirank);
♦ Belarusian State Medical University (WRWU, Unirank, SIR);
♦ Belarusian National Technical University (QS, WRWU, Unirank, SIR);
♦ Yanka Kupala State University of Grodno (WRWU, Unirank, SIR);
♦ Belarusian State University of Informatics and Radioelectronics (QS, WRWU, Unirank, SIR);
♦ Francisk Skorina Gomel State University (WRWU, Unirank, SIR);
♦ Polotsk State University (WRWU);
♦ Belarusian State Technological University (WRWU, Unirank, SIR);
♦ Belarusian State Economic University (Unirank);
♦ Grodno State Medical University (Unirank).

By Yulia Statkevich