Russia is going to fund students specializing in key disciplines to study at leading foreign universities.
The program aims to fill the shortage of specialists needed for the country’s “innovational development,” and is being overseen by President-elect Vladimir Putin.
Once the program is given the green light, the state will issue grants for top students so that they can study abroad in the world’s best universities, then bring their knowledge back to Russia.
Among the supported specialties will be higher education management, state and municipal administration, high-tech companies (either private or state-owned), and social bodies.
“Under this program, anyone enrolling at a foreign university to study a subject we need, can apply for a loan covering tuition fees, accommodation and meals,” Dmitry Peskov, from the Strategic Initiatives Agency, told RT. “If they return to Russia and work in their field for at least three years, they won't have to pay it back. But if they don't want to return, they'll have to pay back the loan plus interest.”
The students will have to enroll in the universities themselves – the state does not guarantee their admittance. This is made so that no one can say that only the children of state officials are sent abroad. Such a contest, believe the program’s creators, will make it more transparent. In addition, all the students will have to keep a blog – both about their studies and then about their jobs.
The program is expected to kick off in 2013, with an initial class of around 1,000 students. In 2014 and 2015, it could extend to 2,000 people. Once the program proves effective, it will continue after 2015.
Meanwhile, Russia’s efforts to stamp out corruption appear to be having an impact – the Prosecutor's Office says the number of complaints lodged last year jumped 40 per cent.
Around 300,000 allegations of corruption-related crimes were filed in 2011. The number of investigations launched last year grew only 8 per cent, while fewer cases made it to court in 2011 than in the previous year.
The greatest number of corruption cases were filed against tax officials and migration service workers.