Norms and Values
Russian Policy in the Field of Educational Migration

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” 
Nelson Mandela


Education occupies one of the leading places in the world economy. It has long been regarded as an expensive and exceptionally valuable commodity, and the sustainable development of countries is already determined not so much by their resources as by the general level of education of the nation, writes Gulnara Gadzhimuradova, Associate Professor at MGIMO University.

Migration is a powerful driver and an important consequence of economic, political and social changes. Given its significant impact on communities, migration needs to be fully measured and understood. The migration crisis and the increase in the number of migrants in the EU countries have changed the strategy of migration policy in the continent. Amid the aging of the population and its shortage of labour resources, migration and the further integration of labour migrants have become part of the migration policy of most developed countries of the world. The growth of the population of most economically developed countries is provided today only through immigration, which is facilitated by the liberalisation of legislative norms, in particular, the facilitation of naturalisation, etc. And all this against the background of the securitisation of the migration policy of most EU countries, which is increasingly taking the form of selective migration.

Today, the majority of developed recipient countries, amid the demographic and migration crises, are in dire need of qualified specialists in many areas of their economies. The education system cannot cope with the problem of reproducing sufficient labour resources. Apart from such migration channels as business migration and economic migration, educational migration and the migration of highly qualified personnel has become an important resource for replenishing the shortage of workers. It is this type of migration, along with economic migration, that has increased in scale against the backdrop of geopolitical changes throughout the world. Hope for migrants and their ability to fill vacant positions that require certain qualifications has not justified itself. Many leading world powers consider education to be part of their foreign policy, as they pursue the most important geo-economic and geopolitical goals.

Meanwhile, education occupies one of the leading places in the world economy. It has long been regarded as an expensive and exceptionally valuable commodity, and the sustainable development of countries is already determined not so much by their resources as by the general level of education of the nation. By the end of the 20th century, a whole branch of the world economy had formed — the international market for educational services, where the annual sales volume is several tens of billions of dollars and the volume of consumers is several million people from all over the world. Thus, in the conditions of the modern world economy, countries are fiercely competitive for qualified labour resources. The possession of scientific and creative potential has become a strategic value for states. This “race for talent” involves both the EU countries and the countries of Southeast Asia and the Middle East. Undoubtedly, Russia is also an active participant in the export of education and the attraction of highly qualified specialists.

The expansion of the export of educational services is one of the urgent tasks facing the system of higher education in modern Russia. The implementation of a high-priority project, “Development of the export potential of the Russian education system”, has become an important link in solving this problem. In the presidential decree, special attention is paid to increasing “the availability of educational services for foreign citizens, including improving the rules for entry into the Russian Federation and stay on its territory of foreign citizens for the purpose of studying in Russian educational organisations” (24, a), as well as “ensuring the openness of the Russian Federation for students, scientific and teaching staff, including the creation of a comfortable regime for them to enter the Russian Federation, stay, receive education and carry out professional activities on its territory” (24, b).

Prohibitions, ideological limitations, policies of double standards, and sanctions, including against the cooperation of scientific schools, the exchange of students, and simply scientists with different points of view are unacceptable. Against the backdrop of EU sanctions, many universities, for example, have decided to refrain from cooperation with Russian partners in their preparation and implementation of new projects, which obviously will not contribute to dialogue or the further resumption of full-fledged interaction.

Under these conditions, it is necessary to continue and expand the cooperation of Russia in the field of education export with partner countries, which are quite numerous.

It is necessary to understand that education today is at the epicentre of many political, economic, spiritual, moral and other problems of life. It has become a specific social practice, and not just a service area for other sectors of the economy; the social structure of society. Therefore, the value of education in the modern world can hardly be overestimated, and this resource should be used for the further development of educational trends and the development of society.

Russia already has some experience in exporting education and attracting young people from neighbouring countries to study at Russian universities. Taking into account the experience of other countries successfully solving problems in the field of educational migration, the export of education will be extremely useful for our country as well. Thus, the experience of some countries in attracting educational migrants and highly qualified specialists, using the Russian Federation’s own experience, will help improve the migration policy system for attracting and selecting highly qualified specialists and attracting talented young people from foreign countries to Russian universities.

At the same time, Russia, despite the existing developments in the field of attracting education migrants, still has problems, often of a bureaucratic nature. In our opinion, Russia has a number of mechanisms (Rossotrudnichestvo, double degree programs, academic mobility, etc.) and advantages (countries, close to Russia of the former USSR are oriented towards it), which it should actively utilize and create favourable conditions for migrants to study and work in the country.

Views expressed are of individual Members and Contributors, rather than the Club's, unless explicitly stated otherwise.