Russia in campaign for Africans despite student frontline deaths
Russia is continuing to appeal to African students through social media-driven recruitment campaigns, despite the recent death of a Zambian student fighting in its ranks against Ukraine.
The country is marketed as the most ideal destination for medicine and health-related degree programs.
Despite the backlash for the war and for recruiting imprisoned students to join the frontline, its Study in Russia body EduRussia has sponsored tens of social media posts aimed at undergraduate African students, portraying its degrees as some of the most widely recognised qualifications in the world.
It is promising studies in English and French, two languages widely used in African schools, with the option of also studying in Russian after a seven to 10 months of pre-university language course.
“Many Nigerian students used to go to Ukraine and Russia before the war for the programs because of the low tuition”
In addition, the posts promise a guaranteed six months stay in the country after graduation for those who choose to stay on.
Even more important, the universities promise affordable tuition fees at US$2,000-3,500 per academic year, a proposition that might prove attractive to African students owing to their economic backgrounds.
“The admission for the 2023/2024 academic year to study General Medicine, Dentistry and Pharmacy in English, French or Russian in the most popular Russian universities among foreign applicants is now open, with 100% guarantee of admission,” says one such a post.
“It is well known that Russian medical schools are the best in the world. A number of innovative discoveries in the field of medicine are associated with the names of Russian professors. If you have a desire to learn from the best, welcome to Russia for a degree in medicine!” it adds.
It also says the degrees are recognised by the World Health Organisation, offered by universities with 100 years of history, while boasting that some 353,000 foreign students from 200 countries around the world were studying in the country.
The health degree programs could be a strong selling point owing to their reputation and the relatively affordable tuition fees charged, agreed Kaosi Maryjoe Onyenaucheya, lead consultant at Seed Educational Consulting, in Nigeria.
“Medicine and related programs are a very good selling point in Africa, and more so in west Africa. Many Nigerian students used to go to Ukraine and Russia before the war for the programs because of the low tuition,” she told The PIE News.
Besides the tuition the possibility cost of undertaking programs in English and French is also a plus she noted, as it would “bridge the communication gap”, eliminating the need to learn a new language before commencing studies.
She added that the campaign messages lack information on scholarships if available, and on how the universities plan to keep students safe despite the war.
She believes that the invasion of Ukraine has affected enrolment numbers, adding that many African parents were concerned about the safety of their children first.
“Medicine and other related health programs like nursing will sell in Ghana, Nigeria and the rest of Africa”
According to Cephas Kugbeadzor of Global Study Partners in Ghana, any strategy to explore Africa as a source market can never be a “miscalculated one”, as the continent has a teeming youth population with an insatiable quest for knowledge through quality higher education, but have limited resources.
While African countries are largely Anglophone and Francophone making it right to use the languages for instruction, for many students from Ghana who have studied in either Russia, Germany and elsewhere prefer to learn a new language as they study their choice program, he added.
“Medicine and other related health programs like nursing will sell in Ghana, Nigeria and the rest of Africa,” he told The PIE News.
Besides low tuition fees Africans favoured destinations that offer post study work permits or allow part-time work while studying, he explained.
Last week a Tanzanian student Nemes Tarimo was confirmed to have died last October while fighting for Russia in Ukraine, two months after the confirmation of the death of the Zambian who died in similar circumstances. Tarimo’s body arrived home on Friday.
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