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MGIMO Vice-Rector for International Programs talks about this year’s admission possibilities for prospective international students

MGIMO Vice-Rector for International Programs talks about this year’s admission possibilities for prospective international students

A.Baykov, Vice-Rector for Graduate and International Programs, talks about this year’s admission possibilities for prospective students from abroad.

— Let's start with the question that concerns most international students and their parents. How will the current COVID-19 pandemic affect the next academic year and the ongoing admissions process?

Of course, we are fully aware that many of our prospective students and, obviously, their parents are concerned about the general uncertainty associated with the pandemic and, particularly, about the mobility limitations that the virus has brought about. There are multiple questions about how studies will be organized and how safe it is to travel internationally. I would like to reassure everyone and confirm the fact that the safety of our students and the quality of education are our absolute priorities!

The academic year at MGIMO will begin as planned - in September, for all our programs. Everyone can apply for undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate courses. At the same time, we need to keep in mind that, depending on the COVID-19 dynamic, studies will take place either in person, or remotely, or in a mixed form.

What’s more, we have simplified the procedure for submitting documents and taking entrance examinations for foreign applicants. Indeed documents can be submitted through online forms and tests can be done remotely. Moreover, we decided to extend the deadline for accepting documents for our English-language programs. While previously the intake process ended in June, this year we will be accepting documents until August 15.

The University leadership is taking all the necessary measures so that, regardless of the circumstances, foreign students can study in conditions that are both comfortable and safe and at the same time receive the high-quality education, which characterizes MGIMO.

Furthermore, even if it is unlikely that full-time in person instruction will be resumed in the fall of 2020, training will most likely take place either in a hybrid format - depending on where the student is physically located, or in a completely remote mode, but in any case, all courses will be available to students in full. We have all the technical capabilities for this, first-class teaching staff experts in online training and qualified methodological and technical support teams.

Let me remind you that in the spring of 2020, our University completely switched to distance learning in the matter of several days, and is now conducting more than 2,000 classes daily on proven and convenient online platforms. Students are currently taking their end of year exams remotely. Despite the crisis, MGIMO fulfills all its obligations to students and will do so in the future.

 What will happen if international students enrol in MGIMO programs, but are not able to physically come due to the preservation of restrictive measures in their countries and Russia or if the epidemiological situation worsens in the fall of 2020?

The University is ready for remote full-time studies in the fall of 2020. Therefore, it was decided that regardless of where the student is physically located - in Russia or at home, all courses will be available to her/him in full, as well as additional hours of consultations with academic tutors and academic program managers.

If a foreign student is enrolled in an MGIMO program, but for security reasons prefers to stay in her/his country for some time and study remotely, this option is allowed by the University.

If the foreign student is in Moscow, on campus, then subject to all the necessary sanitary measures and the rules of social distance, we will be able to organize training in a mixed format – bringing together in the same classroom those who are in Russia and those students who can only connect to classes remotely.

— In your opinion, how will the epidemic affect the adaptation of foreign students, their living conditions and their studies in Russia?

It is clear how worrisome it can be to start studying at a new university in these troubled times. This can cause great stress for applicants and their parents. Therefore, we will pay special attention to the adaptation and inclusion in the educational process of those foreign students who will start their studies at our University remotely. To do this, we will change the traditional grid of teaching hours, adjust the schedule to the specifics of the remote training format, and appoint designated academic tutors to accompany foreign students along this new training format.

— Tell us about the admission process of foreign students for the next academic year.

This year, as always, we are looking forward to welcoming foreign students to MGIMO. Our University is international in every sense. The first cohort of foreign students came to study here as early as 1946 and since then international students have become an integral part of the MGIMO community. We have thought through every detail in order to ensure a speedy adaptation of international students to our academic and extracurricular life. A multilingual team of specialists and volunteer students helps new students adapt - culturally and psychologically – from their very first day to the new realities of life. They offer advice and support, helping new students to get ready for their studies, to get involved in activities which interest them and to strike the right balance between work and rest, all the while offering advice on how to explore the dynamic metropolis that Moscow is. Foreign students can use the services of our health clinic and counseling center, which are open 24/7 and enjoy living on campus in our student accommodation. It goes without saying that the infrastructure has been disinfected and sealed pending new arrivals.

As of today, more than 20% of our students come from abroad. We have nationals of more than 70 countries worldwide studying in Russian, English, French and German. We are proud of the experience we have accumulated in teaching international students over the years, and would like to assure prospective students that they will acquire within our walls an incredible academic and social experience, which will help them build brilliant careers in the future.

The University’s administration will make sure that students are adapting well and those from abroad who do not manage to get entry visas by the beginning of the semester will be able to start their studies remotely.

— What is the quality of distance learning at MGIMO and is it worth enrolling in a program this year?

The Spring of 2020 has been a useful and instructive experience for most universities. As you know, MGIMO completely switched to distance learning and is now conducting more than two thousand classes daily. Despite the extraordinary situation, MGIMO did not compromise on the quality of education and each course has been taught in full.

It is now widely recognized that Covid-19 has accelerated the digitalization of many areas of our lives, including higher education. And now we feel much more confident about using digital and modern pedagogical tools. We have been working closely with our partner universities from Europe, North America and Asia, with which we have developed joint programs. We constantly share best practices and develop technical and methodological solutions to increase the effectiveness of e-learning.

I would not say that distance learning is less effective than a traditional classroom experience. It’s just different, perhaps not quite as familiar, but I must say that students easily adjust to it. Moreover, it has a number of undeniable advantages: distance learning reduces the time spent commuting and means that lessons can be followed from anywhere in the globe. Our surveys show that MGIMO students generally have a very high degree of satisfaction with online learning.

Currently our MGIMO specialists are working to improve the design, methods of online training and software for conducting distance learning. So you can be sure that at MGIMO you will receive a quality education, regardless of the way it is delivered.

We also all understand that the current epidemiological threat will disappear sooner or later. This is a temporary situation. At the same time, I’m sure that neither parents nor applicants want to pass up the opportunity to enter one of the best universities in Russia and the world. The university leadership is interested in normalizing this process as soon as possible and returning studies to what they were.

— What programs can international students apply for?

International applicants can choose to enrol in any program taught at MGIMO without any citizenship restrictions. The University offers programs in Russian and in English, both at undergraduate and postgraduate levels. A number of programs - these are mainly dual MA programs - are executed in three languages at once, where French, German, Spanish or Chinese are added to Russian and English.

We offer a multitude of Russian-language undergraduate and graduate programs. You can read about them on our website.

The BA programs of the School of Government and International Affairs are all available in English: “Government and International Affairs”, “Politics and International Relations” (in partnership with the University of Reading, UK), “Global Politics” (its first three years are run by MGIMO on the basis of the Marbella International University Center in Spain) and the program of the School of International Economic Relations, “International Finance and Investment Management” (a dual BA degree program with the University of Reading, UK).

At Masters level, the list of English-language programs is even more diverse. For many years already MGIMO has been running 16 MA programs in English. I would like to call the attention of applicants to such programs as “Governance and Global Affairs” (including our dual degrees with the University of Reading, UK; LUISS, Italy; and MIUC, Spain) and “International Relations in Eurasia: Politics, Economics and Ideologies”, “Multilateral Diplomacy”, “Russia’s Politics and Policies”, “Post-Soviet Public Policy”. The last two programs are implemented jointly with Lomonosov Moscow State University.

This year MGIMO continues to offer applicants the possibility to study in programs taught in partnership with leading foreign universities. The indisputable advantage of such programs is the possibility of obtaining two full-fledged diplomas from two renowned schools. We already have in place 28 such programs with leading world educational institutions, including Sciences Po and the Higher School of Commerce in Paris (France), the Free University of Berlin and the University of Leipzig (Germany), the Universities of Bocconi and LUISS (Italy), Yonsei University (South Korea), the University of St Andrews (UK) and many others. A new dual degree program in International Relations with Seoul National University, the number one university in the Republic of Korea, opens up this year. This format of cooperation allows us to create truly unique curricula that meet the most advanced international educational standards.

Among such programs, for example, is the first and only Russian-American program “Global Security, Nuclear Policy and the Non-Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction”, implemented by our University with the Middlebury Institute for International Studies at Monterey. This unique Master's program focuses not only on WMD non-proliferation issues, security and counter-terrorism, but also on the development of peaceful nuclear energy. An important partner of the program is the PIR Center, a leading Russian independent source of applied expertise in these fields. The level of experts involved in teaching both in Russia and in the USA (last year the program was conducted by the former IAEA Director General Hans Blix, UN Under-Secretary-General Izumi Nakamitsu, former US Secretary for Energy Ernest Moniz) and the opportunities for interning in specialized UN agencies make this program a global leader.

— What other advantages for international students would you mention?

Let me emphasize the fact that our students have at undergraduate and graduate levels many opportunities to undertake placements and internships or to study abroad. MGIMO has signed agreements with more than 200 universities around the world, which means that students can spend from one semester to a full year studying abroad and transfer credits back to MGIMO.

Among the universities with which we cooperate at MA level, I would mention Johns Hopkins University, the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy (USA), the Vienna Diplomatic Academy (Austria), the University of Geneva (Switzerland), Bocconi (Italy), HEC (France) and dozens of other elite universities in the world. During the course of each academic year, we receive more than 200 foreign professors who come to teach students different short courses relevant to their programs. These modules are built into the curriculum as elective and optional disciplines and are available to students who speak English, that is, to everyone.

It is currently becoming increasingly popular for universities to offer joint courses with partner institutions.This year our students attended lessons together with students from Princeton and Oxford Universities, the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, the University of Geneva, and the Georgia Technological Institute, Henley Business School, etc.

All these possibilities, of course, are available to foreign students in the same way as to Russians.

— Please tell us how this year’s procedure for submitting documents for bachelor programs for foreign applicants was organized?

This year we are accepting applications and conducting entrance examinations remotely.

If you want to enrol in Russian-medium programs and you don’t have Russian citizenship, then you need to submit your documents to the selection committee of the International Office. The office will allocate a curator to walk you through the application process. The entrance examinations comprise tests in Russian and another foreign language, which the applicant studied at school.

I would like to note that citizens of Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, under agreements between our countries, can enter MGIMO on a par with Russian applicants.

If you wish to enroll in English-language undergraduate programs, you will need to contact the selection committee of the School of Government and International Affairs or the School of International Economic Relations, depending on the program you seek to apply for.

For the School of Government and International Affairs, you will be required to send a simple set of documents to the School’s email address (bac@inno.mgimo.ru) and take distance entrance tests.

— And graduate students? How are they selected?

On the website of the MA programs selection committee (master.mgimo.ru), there is a registration form which needs to be filled out. Prospective international students will need to “upload” scans of documents required for enrollment, including their educational certificates. Let me remind you that all documents drawn up on the territory of foreign states must be legalized. In accordance with the requirements for admission to universities in Russia, the accuracy of the translation and the authenticity of the translator's signature must be notarized.

Applicants can inquire into the process of the recognition of their previous degrees by dropping an email to: apostille@my.mgimo.ru. After submitting documents, along with other applicants, foreign nationals will have to pass entrance tests in a remote format.

For those who are interested in enrolling in our dual degree programs, I would like to note that for some programs the deadlines for accepting documents have already expired, and for a number of programs recruitment is carried out through our partner universities, but applications for a few programs are still open. The applicant can check all the details by emailing: dual.masters@my.mgimo.ru.

— Are there any other things one should be aware of when submitting applications?

It is worth noting that when applying for Russian-medium undergraduate programs, you can only choose one field of study. Therefore, when submitting documents, the applicant must be sure about her/his specialisation. To make an informed choice, I recommend that you carefully read the description of the programs on the site, study the list of taught courses, check out their official Facebook or Instagram. It is also worth remembering that in the future, when applying to MA programs, students can opt for a different area of specialisation from their undergraduate one.

For admissions to master's programs, students can choose two programs, which can be from two distinct fields of study (say, Law and Economics).

At the same time, I emphasize that all MGIMO programs train professionals who are in high demand (and in short supply, I must add) on the labor market and have been designed in conjunction with leading Russian and global companies. At least a third of all classes are delivered by top managers of major companies and other high profile practitioners. MGIMO graduates have upon completion of their studies undeniable competitive advantages including a strong command of several foreign languages, a broad international outlook, an understanding of politics and economics of transnational business. These skills allow our graduates to successfully secure a job in government bodies, as well as Russian and international companies.

— Many foreign applicants do not speak Russian well enough to study in Russian-medium programs, but nevertheless would like to study in Russian. What options are available to help these students improve their Russian?

The University offers several options for such applicants. Firstly, they can enrol in a year-long Russian language course. It is suited both to applicants who do not speak Russian at all, and to those who already have some language skills. At the end of the course, testing is conducted in Russian as a foreign language at the level of B1 +, and students receive an official certificate.

The second option is ideal for those who would like to study Russian not for a year, but a semester. This can be done both in groups and individually. Information on classes of this type can be found on the website.

And, finally, the third option is intensive summer courses for students who speak Russian but are looking for some extra practice before the exam. This type of course lasts two weeks and this year will be held remotely.

It goes without saying that under the current conditions, all three of these options can be offered to those who wish, both remotely or in person.

If you have any questions you can email us at the Admissions Committee for international students: international@inno.mgimo.ru or to me personally at: baykov@mgimo.ru.