Simpler recognition process for foreign qualifications planned to attract more skilled workers

Andrei Fursenko, Russia’s minister of education, said that the government plans to automatically recognise the degrees of any foreign university on three leading educational rankings - the UK World University Rankings, Shanghai Ranking and Quacquarelli Symonds. 

‘We are planning to recognise without any additional procedures the diplomas of those universities, which are present in the first 300 positions in all three world rankings,’ Fursenko says. ‘For each foreign specialist it will be enough to get a notarised translation of his diploma or certificate, indicating that they were granted an academic degree.’ 

There is presently no clear process for formally recognising foreign qualifications. Currently, foreign graduates who want to work or teach in Russia must prove that their diploma is comparable to a Russian one. Preparing all the necessary documentation can take several months. On top of this, there is often a requirement to get their diploma and thesis work translated into Russian. 

Simplifying the recognition process for degrees obtained outsid-e of Russia was first proposed in 2009 by Russia’s then president Dmitry Medvedev. The aim was to modernise the country and boost the competitiveness of Russian science by attracting highly skilled foreign specialists. 

It is also hoped that streamlining the recognition of foreign diplomas will help to attract Russian students and postgraduates that studied abroad. According to the Russian Kommersant  business paper, an estimated 5000 Russian students are studying in the US alone. 

In recent years, Russian companies have tried to woo foreign scientists and specialists to come and work in the country by providing attractive employment packages. The Russian ministry of labour states that salaries in Russia are, on average, 30-50% higher than salaries for many similar positions in other countries and the income tax rate of 13% is one of the lowest in the world. However, numerous bureaucratic hurdles have hampered firms’ efforts to attract highly skilled foreign staff. In addition to this, a lack of transparency and problems with corruption have also put off skilled workers from outside Russia. 

Olga Kochergina, a senior consultant at MarksMan, one of Russia’s leading recruitment firms, says that demand for foreign scientists and highly skilled workers in Russia is steadily rising - primarily in top-level positions. In the past, most foreign specialists were hired by the Russian branches of multinational companies. Now, she says that more and more Russian companies want to hire skilled foreigners - mostly in the IT, telecoms, retail and energy sectors.