November 19, 2015
International Education Center OPTIMA STUDY has taken the lead in setting up the Association of Russian Education Exporters (AREE). The key task of the Association is to provide an assured inflow of foreign students into Russia. Galina Gurova, Deputy Director General of the organizing company, tells us how this will be decided.

Association as “social mandate”
Despite the decent standard of education in Russian universities and their very competitive cost, there is a small amount of foreign students in Russia. The main “stumbling block” is the lack of a clear understanding of the university technologies’ concepts which should be involved in the process to create a successful solution for this problem, as well as the lack of financial and human resources. The Russian universities’ rectors who really want to increase the number of foreign students have come to the conclusion that the best way is to divide the functions of the search and selection of their professional organizations. It is important that such questions be on a priority basis and not on the “leftover principle”. That is why the idea of the creation of the Association can play a role in the “social mandate” from Russian universities that are going to become major exporters of the educational services.
Tasks that will be solved by the Association
The new Association will be set up to engage in publicity for the Educational organisations for the mainstream audience. They will post information about the university in foreign catalogs and reference books (nowadays you cannot find such information anywhere). Moreover the Association will cooperate with other international recruitment companies, as well as professionally represent the interests of each high school at the most important international educational Fairs. It is very ambitious and difficult work. Today the Association is the first organization in Russia, which has undertaken the commitments to form and complete this work to attract international students to Russia. We can say that the creation of this Association is a leap of trust. At the same time we have compelling reasons that this project will be successful. First of all, at the consultant market our company is acknowledged to be a trusted partner.

Secondly, we have many years' of experience in the field of international education. In addition to this, mediation systems in which we are involved in, in such countries as China, India, Africa, and Latin America, where the Russian education is in-demand.
Participation in the Association is a cost-effective

Calculations demonstrate that in any case the universities which are part of the Association save up to 80% of the cost of marketing activities, thus increasing the guaranteed number of foreign students by at least 20-25 per year. The Association will be required to report regularly on achieved results and amount of work which has been done to its members. Definitely, all members must provide all the necessary documents. The Association must also have an independent Supervisory Board, which will include representatives of the Government, the Heads of large companies and public organisations.
Who can become the participant of the Association

Nowadays not every Institution can become a participant of the Association. The reality, unfortunately, is that not every Russian university has the objective chances of getting foreign students. The reasons may be different: from specialties to which foreigners will likely not go for getting their education in Russia, to the banal lack of beds in the dormitory. The Association is obliged to guarantee its’ members real results.
There is another feature: the Association will seek to avoid “conflict of interest”, which may be associated with the participation of competing schools. In other words, it will completely rule out the possibility of simultaneous participation of several regional technical colleges with
similar specialties. At the same time, the simultaneous participation, for example, the capital and the regional high school is quite possible, because there is a big price difference: education in Moscow is much more expensive than in other Russian regions.
There are also some restrictions connected with members of the Association. As professionals, we should understand that the amount will be inversely proportional to the quality. It is impossible to take part in the international exhibition and efficiently introduce several dozen universities. Therefore, the head goal of the Association is the creation of a pool of 10-15 Russian universities that are willing to cooperate with us in the framework of the Association, to listen to our recommendations, quickly, without the traditional Russian red tape and bureaucracy to solve all organizational issues. Only in this case the Association will guarantee success to its members.
Quality presentation is a mandatory condition

In order to participate in the international exhibition in productive ways, university officials should be available to make a high-quality presentation package: information about the university should be presented in the language of the country where the exhibition is held and it should be prepared as an attractive commercial and so on. As practice shows, there are no so such materials in many of our universities today, or their quality leaves much to be desired. Therefore, universities, which are planning to become members of the Association should be aware that the condition of participation is strictly necessary. In this case, the Association is ready to lend their support to the universities and not only methodological, but also practical assistance in the preparation of the necessary materials. We have all the necessary resources, including our own television studio. So, we are open for cooperation in the framework of the Association, to discuss all the legal, financial and organizational issues.