SA parents send kids to cheaper Russian universities

2013-09-01 10:00

Fisani Maluleka has decided to send her 22-year-old son, Mhlengi Mhlongo, to study medicine at a Russian university because it is cheaper than enrolling him in a South African university.

Maluleka, from Osizweni near Newscastle in KwaZulu-Natal, will pay just R51?000 a year – which includes tuition, food, accommodation and medical aid – at the Tambov State University.

She will only pay extra money towards her son’s return ticket.

At a South African university like Wits, Maluleka could have easily parted with about R47?000 a year for medical-degree tuition fees alone. Books, stationery and accommodation would have been another R40?000.

“It is a big relief. Besides being cheap, this is going to be good exposure for Mhlengi to see life abroad,” said Maluleka. “My son had to spend time after matric to upgrade his symbols. Now he is going to realise his dream of becoming a doctor.”

Mhlengi’s adventures in Mother Russia are all thanks to Racus, a Saint Petersburg-based organisation that recruits students from around the world to enrol at Russian universities.

It was founded in 1991 by a group of Russian state universities – there are 650 such institutions in that country.

Most Russian universities’ courses, Racus says, are offered in Russian, English and French.

Racus’ representative in Nelspruit, Protus Kum, said he was currently helping 21 students like Mhlengi prepare to study in Russia next year.

“I decided to quit as a school principal (at Metropolitan College near White River in Mpumalanga) after realising I could help students to access good, quality education very cheaply,” said Kum.

Racus’ interest in South Africa began, he explained, after a stampede at the University of Johannesburg last year left a woman dead and 17 people injured.

“This week, I’ve assisted three students to get their study visas at the Russian embassy in Pretoria,” he said.

Racus says on its website that foreign students in Russia can have as much as 80% of their study

costs subsidised by the Russian government.

Daphney Nkosi of White River said she had paid only R29?500 for her daughter, Zamokuhle, to study corporate law at Nizhny Novgorod State University next year.

“I’ve compared prices with my friends who have sent their children to local universities. I realised that this was going to be cheap. Just in 2009, we were paying R72?000 a year, excluding books, for our son, who was studying electrical engineering.”

Talk to us: Would you send your child to a Russian university if it meant saving a lot of money?

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