How Much Does It Cost to Study in Russia?*

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What do prospective students and their parents pay attention to when choosing a country to continue education and apply to a university? According to the surveys, the main benchmarks include, besides the quality of education, successful careers of university graduates, who studied in a particular country, and the cost of studying. Today, the price/quality ratio is one of the reasons why Russian universities are attractive to foreign citizens.

Over many decades, Soviet and Russian universities have provided higher education to people from many foreign countries. For example, among students of Soviet and Russian universities were presidents of some countries:

  • José Eduardo dos Santos (1979-2017, Angola)
  • Trần Đức Lương (1997-2006, Vietnam)
  • Bharrat Jagdeo (1999-2011, Guyana)
  • Nambaryn Enkhbayar (2005-2009, Mongolia)
  • Thabo Mbeki (1999-2008, South Africa), etc.

In 2022, ten supreme leaders of foreign countries were graduates of Russian universities. According to this indicator, Russia ranks fourth in the world, after the USA, Great Britain, and France. Anywhere in the world you can find political figures, famous scientists, prominent business people who have obtained a higher education degree in the USSR and Russia.

*We publish an abridged version of the article by V. Kruglov, V. Pugach, A. Ruchkin, E. Shevchenko “Is It Expensive for International Students to Study at Russian Universities?” Read the full text in the Accreditation in Education journal (№146, October, 2023),

When choosing a country, students should take into consideration the cost of studying and general costs, including accommodation. In 2022, the Times Higher Education experts conducted an interesting study. They compared the expenses related to students’ stay in  20 states holding top positions in the ranking “The Best Countries to Study Abroad” according to US News. In 2022, Russia ranked 49th in this ranking. For comparison, they chose the following cost parameters: the cost of studying, food basket, health insurance, travel card for public transport, apartment rent (one place), and gym membership.

The data for 20 foreign countries and Russia is given in Table 1.

The countries are ranked by general expenses. As we can see from Table 1, minimum expenses are required in Russia – 257 USD, and maximum expenses – in Singapore, 5,172 USD. As can be seen, the gap is very big. It is a 20-fold gap. Even Moscow, where living and studying is rather expensive like in any other capital in the world, compared to other cities in the same country, is located at the top of the table.

The largest part of expenses is tuition or accommodation costs, with some countries placing tuition first and other countries placing accommodation first. In some countries, the sum of these indicators is more than 90%, and each of the rest of items for this share of expenses accounts for a few percent, most often, less than 10%.

Let us consider the countries by cost of studying and apartment rental price. For this purpose, let us divide them into groups, categorizing them as low-cost, average-cost, and high-cost countries. As we can see from Table 2, the groups located on the diagonal of the table are the most filled ones.

  1. The first group includes the cheapest countries in terms of the cost of both studying and accommodation. Russia is included in this group.
  2. The second group includes two countries – Spain and Germany – with average apartment rental prices and the low cost of studying.
  3. The third group includes the countries with high apartment rental prices and the low cost of studying.
  4. The fourth group (the average cost of studying and the low cost of accommodation) has two elements, including Moscow. It is the cost of studying that makes Moscow different from Russia in general.
  5. The fifth group consisting of three countries – Italy, France, and Japan – is well-balanced and averaged – the average cost of studying lines up with the average cost of accommodation here.
  6. The sixth group is the most filled and well-balanced, too, but at the level of the high cost of both studying and accommodation.

The table data definitely contains averaged values. However, the results of the study are compelling and rather illustrative when it comes to the affordability of studying and living in each particular country. In contrast to many developed countries offering good education, Russia looks an attractive destination from the standpoint of the ratio of price/quality of studying and living in the cities with well-developed infrastructure and available electronic services for international students.

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