Russia is seeking to promote its education and culture in India and strengthen ties, ahead of President Vladimir Putin's expected visit here later this year.
India and Russia will sign an agreement on the mutual recognition of higher education diplomas, which would help increase the flow of Indian students to Russia, said Fyodor Rozovsky, director of the Russian Centre of Science (RCSC) and Culture. Russia's largest cultural representation abroad is in India, with five RCSCs in New Delhi, Chennai, Mumbai, Kolkata and Trivandrum.
"This agreement will make it possible to increase the number of Indian students studying in Russia, either on government stipends or at their own expense," Rozovsky said.
Changes have been made in Russian law this year to benefit foreign students in Russia.
"In the past, foreign students in Russia couldn't work while they were students, but since January 2014, in accordance with changes to the law on Legal Status of Foreign Citizens in Russia, they can both study and work," said Rozovsky, who heads the India office of Russia's Agency for CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) Affairs, Russian Compatriots Abroad and International Humanitarian Cooperation (Rossotrudnichestvo) which has offices in 68 countries.
"In the 2014-2015 academic year, there are plans to offer government funds to around 40 Indian students to go to Russia to study at the bachelor, specialist and graduate levels, and to nine students to get training in teaching Russian", he said.
"After recent legislation, prospective students can now designate one or more universities where they would like to study, while earlier they could choose only the area of study and the Russian education ministry chose the institution."
In the year 2000, only about hundred-odd students from India chose Russia for their under-graduate and post-graduate studies. The number of Indian students has risen to 1,000-1,100 students a year since 2012.
According to the RCSC, in 2012, out of the 1,100 students who went to Russia for higher studies, 865 went to learn medicine and dentistry and 235 opted for engineering courses.
The majority of students are drawn to medicine because of the reasonable fee structure, which is considerably lower than that of private institutions in India and the cost are almost 1/5 th of of such education costs in the US.
The country has 50 institutions teaching medicine out of which 12 institutions offer education in English.
"In India there is a growing interest in Russian. It's taught in more than 30 universities and 16 schools, in various language centres and in dedicated courses," said Rozovsky .
"More than 20 universities in India have approached us, asking us to partner with them to bring Russian language teachers from Russia." "In the last year or two, the process of publishing Russian language textbooks in India has intensified, and these textbooks are published under license," the RCSC head said.
President Putin is slated to visit India in November this year as part of the regular summit-level dialogue between the two countries.
Inputs from IANS