Joining the program to talk about this, is Charley King, the founder and head of Brookes School in Moscow.
Charley starts the program by talking about how the perception of Russia and the Russian education system is very different from what is reported by ‘external bodies'. The fact that a top Russian university is now accepting students from an international school in Moscow, based on the IB is in itself quite an interesting turn of events. Charley comments: "I think that this is a positive shift in the perception of [Russian] education….What we wanted to be able to do here at Brookes is offer the best of both worlds and to enable our students with an IB qualification to be able to enter a Russian university or a university of their choice abroad."
Host John Harrison asks if the barriers are being lowered to allow this to happen, and Charley answers: "I wouldn't use the word lowered, I think the barriers are being removed. The term lowered would indicate that educational standards are being lowered — they are not. The IB is a very highly sought-after and demanding academic qualification….There are pockets of schools within Moscow that offer IB, however, Brookes will be the first IB world school which will offer all the programs. We are also taking in a number of expatriate students along with our Russian students, so we have a wide diverse range of options available. But generally speaking, there is this misconception across the world that you cannot necessarily have an internationally recognized qualification and go to a university in Russia. You are guided to go to a university in the UK or the USA. Although there is no one Russian university in the global 100 top universities, they are considered to be very highly desired institutions, with very high academic standards. MSU, for example, is producing world-class specialists in Physics, Chemistry, Cybernetics, and Maths."
On the subject of Russian universities, Charley says that they are developing in their own way: "The Moscow State University, for example, is spreading its wings. The university is developing a project in Shenzhen in China, which will be called MSU Shenzhen, so MSU itself is looking outside of Moscow. The world is becoming so much smaller, Moscow and the world realizes that we actually have to collaborate together. That means for education that a more globally accepted qualification such as the IB is the way to go."
With fees spiraling in some western countries, Russian universities could well be on the cards for students looking for good, but sensibly priced university education.
Charley is full of praise for Russian students and has this to say about them: "As far as Russian students entering foreign universities go, if you are here in Moscow and you experience Russian students, you quickly realize how very hard working they are. I think the best thing would be for me to give an example. There is one Russian who is going to be coming to Brookes Moscow this September, who has recently been accepted into a number of top UK senior schools such as Harrow and Rugby. His parents want to keep options open, so they are going to be sending him to us to give him the chance to gain that IB accreditation and to give him the chance to go to either a Russian or foreign university when he graduates. His work ethic is incredible, and I can say that of many Russian families. Universities abroad, incidentally, see Russian students as very hard working, very diligent, and focused on two particular subjects like science subjects and maths, and I think that they are very successful as well after they graduate. Alongside of that, I think that the cross-cultural difference is also very interesting for universities. Universities and international schools like to have a globally cross-cultural family of students, so it's very important for them to make sure that they open their arms to Russian students, and I think that Russian universities will also benefit from foreign students for the same reasons…"
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