Директор ОЦ EgoRound Елена Яровая дала комментарий для газеты "The St. Petersburg Times".
By Olga Kalashnikova
The St. Petersburg Times
Published: September 25, 2013 (Issue # 1779)
It’s never too late to study abroad, but to fully integrate into a foreign country it is often best to start the educational journey while still a teenager.
“The student, graduate, young specialist, experienced CEO or business owner will always find an appropriate course, acquire additional skills and earn a prestigious diploma,” said Irina Sledyeva, director of AcademConsult, a St. Petersburg firm specializing in sending Russian students abroad to study.
“Yet in this day and age, one cannot be sure about integration into the host society. To involve oneself into the social fabric of a country as well as the academic process, one should travel to study abroad at the age of 12 or 13 years old.”
“Such students not only receive a foreign education, but also have an opportunity to make real friends, to feel like a citizen of another country and to partake in its culture.”
Young people are better able to acquire new knowledge and adapt to changes in environment, which is why many school-leavers or graduates choose to study abroad. Language teachers see an obvious advantage – not only do young people learn a profession, but they also acquire foreign language skills.
“This experience can have a beneficial impact on a young person’s destiny,” said Yelena Yarovaya, director of EgoRound educational center. “If he or she integrate successfully into the cultural and linguistic environment, they may have a chance to remain in the country legally and find a job, or marry a local resident.”
Adults usually go abroad to take part in programs that are under-represented in Russia, be they MBAs or special design courses. To choose the best country for the prospective student, both parents and children should try to look as far into the future as possible. For youngsters, it’s important to first know first the university they will attend and only then to look for a school abroad that could help prepare them for the chosen course of study. For older students, AcademConsult advises that the country where they want to gain professional experience be chosen first, and only then should an educational institution or program that is suitable be sought.
“If you want to stay in the country where you are going to study, you should understand the demand for the occupation you will have. Moreover, the price of education is also an important factor. In some European countries, such as France, Germany, the Czech Republic and the Scandinavian countries, higher education is free of charge for everyone,” said Yarovaya.
“To enter university, one needs to pass exams and provide proof of language skills. Some universities and colleges offer grants for education. Yet, even if you do not pay for your study, you have to live somewhere, which means you will need to rent a room or a flat. Look carefully at all these factors and you’ll be able to understand where to find the best education within your means,” she said.
According to data from AcademConsult, the average price for education and accommodation is about 25,000 euros per year. Prices for education, however, vary widely and can be anything from 6,000 to 80,000 euros per year.
“Many educational institutions demand that applicants older than the age of ten take language tests. Sometimes it is just a small test of foreign language skills and sometimes these are very serious exams in various subjects followed by an interview,” said Sledyeva.
The most widespread exams are international tests that assess knowledge in a specific language — the American TOEFL and the British IELTS for English, and the DALF for French and DELE for Spanish. In Germany, all students are required to pass the DSH German-language test. Among other popular tests, AcademConsult consultants mention those that test logic and math skills, and the GMAT exam, which is necessary to attend an MBA.
The IELTS exam is, first and foremost, a general test of English, which is also used by the British, Canadian and Australian immigration services to assess those wishing to live and work abroad. Yet, the most common reason for taking it is the wish to study at universities in the English-speaking world.
“The candidates I see in St. Petersburg are often young professionals planning to emigrate, or undergraduates planning to follow their first Russian degree with a masters degree abroad,” said Alan Maishman, an English-language instructor and Director of Studies at the Lexica Centre of European Languages in St. Petersburg.
“Occasionally, we see school leavers who are hoping to do their first degree overseas — often in Finland. The IELTS exam isn’t designed for younger children, so those going to primary schools in the U.K. or Switzerland for example, are assessed in other ways.”
IELTS is a multilevel exam with candidates graded on a scale of one to nine in the skills of listening, reading, writing and speaking. Most universities will require an average grade of 6.5, though it will depend on the course of study.
“For example, law will require a higher language ability than design. The grade also depends on how prestigious the institution is. I always advise candidates to take an IELTS preparation course — ideally they will already have an Upper Intermediate or Advanced level of English,” said Maishman.
“Teaching IELTS students is very rewarding. For some students, it changes their lives dramatically. I now have ex-students with successful careers in “blue-chip” companies, living in the U.K., Australia and the U.S. It’s great to be associated with such positive outcomes,” he said.
In addition to knowledge, students need to address certain practicalities and start preparation long before beginning study. A student visa, for example, demands more documents than are required to travel as a tourist. Some of the documents need to be translated into a foreign language and notarized.
“Sometimes one needs to provide bank statements showing a relatively constant balance over a period of several months or a certificate from the police that says you have not engaged in any criminal activity,” said Sledyeva. “One has to apply for these well in advance in some instances and wait until the documents are ready before applying for a visa.”
Students should also investigate a potential institution’s requirements for entering a bachelor’s program if it is to follow directly after leaving secondary education, or be aware if the subject of the potential master’s degree program should match that of a previous qualification.
On Sept. 19, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev approved a list of foreign educational institutions whose qualifications are recognized in Russia. The list includes 201 organizations from 23 countries. These institutions occupy the top three hundred positions in the Academic Ranking of World Universities, QS World University Rankings and The Times Higher Education World University Rankings. For the first time, such a document details how Russian and foreign degrees and qualifications correspondence to each other.
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