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    Putin favors expanding Russian education presence overseas

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    "It is in the interests of Russian education itself to increase the export of our educational services," the president told the State Council.

    MOSCOW, March 24 (RIA Novosti) - Vladimir Putin called Friday for Russian educational establishments to expand their presence overseas and to offer broader access to foreign students and teachers.

    "It is in the interests of Russian education itself to increase the export of our educational services," the president told the State Council, an advisory body uniting regional lawmakers and officials that issues recommendations on vital issues facing the country.

    In particular, he said Russian universities and institutes, which usually run five-year programs covering board curricula, should open branches in other countries.

    "Training personnel for other countries opens the road to new markets for us, while the exchange of experience stimulates joint search for new technologies and investment," Putin said.

    Russia has traditionally been proud of its education system, and the president said the country had to utilize its competitive advantages in the field.

    "Russia, which has serious and specific advantages in education, must to use them today in its own benefit," Putin said.

    He said the level of education was a starting point for economic and scientific and technical progress in the country, but added that increased spending on education had failed to result in a complete modernization of the sector.

    "Federal budget spending has increased by almost five times and from the consolidated [budget] by three times over the last five years," Putin said. "But despite all this a complete modernization of the [education] sector has not happened yet."

    The president added that the government had started implementing a national project to develop the education system across Russia, especially in the regions, in a bid to help the reorganization process and to achieve positive changes.

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