TOMSK, Mar 23 – RIA Tomsk. About 55% of international students around the world abandoned their migration plans during the pandemic or postponed their decision to study abroad for a year; Tomsk State University (TSU) still manages to keep a foreign contingent, but it will take 5 years to fully restore it, TSU Vice-Rector for International Affairs Artyom Rykun told RIA Tomsk.
Earlier it was reported that in March 2020, many countries restricted air traffic due to the threat of the spread of COVID-19. Foreigners studying in Tomsk received recommendations from the authorities of their countries to return home and left Russia. In March, Tomsk universities switched to distance learning, and in September the academic year began in a mixed format: some of the classes were conducted remotely, and some were intramural. Many students were unable to come to study in Tomsk due to closed borders.
According to Rykun, over 3.1 thousand foreign students are currently studying at TSU (891 from non-CIS countries, 2231 from CIS countries). During the period of the pandemic, 138 foreigners were expelled from the university, including due to the epidemiological situation. In general, in Russia, more than 2 thousand foreign students (out of 290 thousand) were expelled from universities in the pandemic.
"According to a 2020 survey conducted by QS, in the world, approximately 55% of students abandoned migration plans with the onset of COVID-19 (47% are postponing their study plans for a year, 8% have changed their minds to study abroad). At some levels of education, the number of foreign students who planned to come physically fell by 80%. This is very serious. Experts say that it will take five years to return to the pre-pandemic level. This is a global trend," the vice-rector said.
© РИА Томск. Таисия Воронцова
In his opinion, a lot is being done in Tomsk universities to speed up the recovery of the educational market. In particular, all universities have an effective system to prevent the outbreak of the disease and a fairly "good situation with the Internet". The latter is especially important, given that many foreigners could not study remotely due to insufficient coverage of the "home" Internet.
According to Rykun, in the near future, due to the weakening of the entry regime, the university expects a return to intramural form of education of 1.8 thousand foreign students. Besides them, 959 foreigners are already in Tomsk.
"In the near future, we are expecting our studets back from Vietnam, India, Turkey and Egypt. This is about 50-80 people. And also 1,276 people from Kazakhstan - a significant part of our students are from there. It was allowed to come from Kazakhstan for a long time, but it was about air transport - there are few tickets and they are expensive, but now trains and buses are allowed, it has become a real story," the vice-rector added.