Exclusive interview with Mr Avbakar Nutsalov, General Director of RACUS, the Russian-African Centre for University Services. RACUS will be exhibiting for the first time at the upcoming Career Indaba in Sandton in May.
1) Can you give us some background on RACUS – the organisation must have a long, interesting and proud history?
RACUS was founded in 1991 (it is registered in Saint Petersburg) on the initiative and with the support of a group of Russian state universities. Today the organization has five departments and representative offices in 58 countries in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, South America, the Commonwealth of Independent States (some of former USSR countries) and Europe as well as branch offices in 10 cities in the European part of Russia.
RACUS is an abbreviation of its departments – Russian-African Center for University Services. The Department organizes and carries out annual educational exhibitions “Study in Russia”; holds educational seminars and conferences for graduates; enrolls citizens of African counties to study at the state higher education establishments of Russia, prepares and carries out joint educational projects between Russian and African universities and colleges.
2) How do Russians regard education, especially a tertiary/university education?
It is a dream of any person wishing to be successful. Studying in Russia is the synonym of prestigious and high-quality education for young people, who pay attention to their career development. Russia, being the world leader in terms of literacy rate (99,6%), is proud of its system of education as well as of its grate achievements in science and technologies, a great number of Nobel Prize winners, globally renowned cultural workers and sportsmen, rich natural resources.
3) Tell us more about the Russian education system. Is it based on specific values? What do you think are its strong points?
The Russian higher education system is based on the common world standards: BSc (4 years of studies), MSc (2 years), PhD (3 years) degrees + medical specialties (General medicine – 6 years, Dentistry – 5 years, Pharmacy – 5 years). Russia adopted the most contemporary and recognized education standards.
4) Just like South Africa, the Russian Federation has had some political and geographic changes in the last 20+ years, how has this affected the education system, especially at university level?
Yes, that’s true, the education system has been modified according to the new world. For example, in Soviet Union there were only 2 steps: 5-6 years of qualification “specialist” and postgraduation.
After the signing of the Bologna Convention on the Recognition of Qualifications Concerning Higher Education, Russia joined the common international educational space that was comfortable for student migration. Currently Russian diplomas are recognized in all countries of the world, they are of the high quality, which is valued by employers. For example, in Silicon Valley more than 20% of scientific experts got their diplomas in Soviet Union or in Russia.
5) Tell us about the different courses that are available for foreign students within your group of universities?
The group of more than 15 Russian state universities being a part of association “RACUS” offers more than 300 medical, engineering, technical, economic specialties and humanities in Russian, English and French languages of studies for Bachelors, Masters and Postgraduate programs.
6) You will be at Career Indaba to talk to South African youngsters about studying in Russia – what do you think will be the main differences for a South African to study there?
Studying abroad is more valuable as employers is more likely hire someone with experience of studying, working and living in the world’s major country with a long history. As South Africa and Russia are members of the BRICS association, favorable conditions were created for cooperation and partnerships at all levels between these countries. So South Africans can get a top level higher education at one of the Russian state universities, gain experience while working in Russia and export their knowledge to their country.
7) Why should a student choose Russia to study?
Studying in Russia provides you with great opportunities. It is not just the chance to get a high-quality education at affordable price and a prestigious degree recognized in the world; it is also a once-in-a-lifetime experience. You will get to know about the culture, traditions, language, attitudes and values of the Russian people. The decision to study in Russia will most certainly open up a new world brimful of exciting, captivating and rewarding adventure!
8) Why did you decide to come to Career Indaba this year?
The group of Russian state universities, RACUS, has its representations in all countries of the Southern part of Africa (Angola, Zambia, Malawi, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Mozambique, Swaziland). For the past few years we’ve been noticing the increase in demand for highly qualified specialists in the labour market in South Africa and Lesotho. That was the major reason of opening the local office there.
9) Is Africa a new market for you?
Over the years Soviet and then Russian universities have been preparing specialists for Africa. Currently we work in almost all African countries allowing for about 3000 students annually to get a higher education in Russia. Actually more then 210-thousand foreign students from around 190 countries of the world have chosen Russia for obtaining higher education. Russia shares the 3rd-5th places with France and Germany in number of foreign students
10) What are you most looking forward to at Career Indaba?
Popularization of Russian higher education in Russia, providing more information to the youth of SA about Russian state universities and about Russia, country of big opportunities. The quality of Russian higher education is proved by its reputation, which has never been so high in the world as nowadays.
11) Anything you would like to add?
Education – is an investment for the future, the pathway to your prosperous career. Higher education in Russia – is an assurance for success!