The relevance of the study
According to the Federal State Statistics Service in 2016-2017 academic year 132,700 foreign students were enrolled in the Russian Federation, while in 2015-2016 academic year the number of foreign students was only 124,0 thousand.
The majority of representatives are from Kazakhstan – 50.7 thousand people. The second place is for Uzbekistan – 16.8 thousand people. The third place is for young people from Turkmenistan – 15.9 thousand people.
According to the positional experts, our country actively uses education as a soft power, mainly in respect of students, bachelors from the CIS countries which is linked to originally highly developed cultural and economic communication level .
Political scientists and sociologists express their concern over the frequent cases of propaganda of the ideas of Islamic radicalism in the universities. So in 2015, five students who came from Tajikistan to study in YSTU went to fight on the side of ISIL. And these are only the established facts 
According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Yaroslavl region, the number of people brought to criminal account is rising among migrants. According to the UFSIN (Penalty execution authority) of the Yaroslavl region, the correctional colonies in the region contain a significant number of citizens from the CIS countries, mainly for the distribution of drugs. Only one correctional colony #8 is serving a sentence of about 700 citizens from Tajikistan.
Given the above, it is important to facilitate successful adaptation of foreign students.
Empirical basis of the study
A survey of Russian students conducted in 2015-2016 in:
– Yaroslavl State Pedagogical University (YSPU);
– Orel branch of the Russian Academy of National Economy and Public Administration under the President of the Russian Federation.
A survey of foreign students conducted in 2016-2017 in:
– Yaroslavl State Pedagogical University (YSPU);
– Yaroslavl State University (YSU);
– Yaroslavl State Technical University (YSTU);
Quota sample. Selection n = 200. Quota variables: gender, age, citizenship, university.
In-depth interview of university teachers has been conducted n=8.
A secondary analysis of the following data was carried out:
– Federal Service of State Statistics of Russia;
– Judicial department at the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation;
– the results of sociological research conducted by Russian Public Opinion Research Centre, the Center for the Study of Interethnic Relations of the Institute of Sociology of the Russian Academy of Sciences (Moscow).
In addition, in-depth interviews carried out with the positional experts – employees of Migration Service (UFMS of Yaroslavl).
In 2018, a content analysis of the publication in the media on this issue was conducted.
Method used for empirical data processing: IBM SPSS Statistics 20.0 and MS-Excel.
Methodological basis of the study
The methodological basis of the study is the model of the acculturation strategies by J.W. Berry.
Within the study, we relied on the scientific works of sociologists of the Center for the Study of Interethnic Relations of the Institute of Sociology of the Russian Academy of Sciences (Moscow): L.M. Drobizheva, S.V. Ryzhova, I.M. Kuznetsov, V.D. Shapiro, E.M. Arutyunova and others. Also, we used the scientific works of the following authors: J. Baudrillard, B. Bjerregaard, J.K. Cochran, Laura K. Donohue, J.S. Coleman, O.V. Eparkhina, R. Inglehart, S.A. Baburkin, O.A. Koryakovtseva, A.V. Lymarev, S.F. Messner, R. Rosenfeld, V.D. Shapiro and others [3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20].
1. A small part of foreign students plan to stay for permanent residence in Russia.
2. For a significant part of foreign students from the CIS countries, social integration occurs in the form of assimilation.
3. For a significant part of international students from the Baltic countries, social integration occurs in the form of acculturation.
4. For a small part of foreign students, social integration occurs in the form of absorption.
1. Interethnic marriages are formed mainly according to the scheme “foreigner-local” and only a small percentage according to the “foreigner-foreigner” scheme.
2. Foreign female students, regardless of their ethnic origin, are less likely to join an international union than male.
3. Interethnic adaptation of ethnically mixed student families in Yaroslavl obtains the character of ethnic assimilation.
Results of the study
First we as researchers were interested, if it is important for foreign students to maintain their own cultural identity? As a result of the survey, it was found that for 36 % of respondents this is important. 54 % of foreign students indicated that it is important for them to maintain a relationship with another group, especially with representatives of the titular nation.
The survey on the attitude towards mixed marriages showed that 23 % of girls and 40 % of young men are ready to marry with representatives of another nationality or religion. So this group of foreign students explained that the main thing in concluding a marriage is love, not citizenship, nationality, religion, financial status, etc. They pointed out that they would go against the will of parents if they were prevented from marrying for love with a representative of another nationality.
Next, we studied the leisure of foreign and Russian students. It was established that foreign students spend their free time, first of all, socializing in social networks, actively go in for sports and communicate with friends. It was also revealed that foreign students three times more often spend their free time for concerts, theaters, and museums.
65 % of foreign students noted that they keep friendly relations with Russian citizens
A number of foreign students have difficulties with accommodation. So 45 % of the 1st year students indicated that they would like to change their place of residence. A survey of university teachers showed that, unfortunately, not all universities have the opportunity to provide comfortable accommodation.
Within the survey, the following dependence was established, that with each subsequent course of study, foreign students are more satisfied with their higher education. In addition, the higher the course of study, the less difficulties in learning and the less difficulties appear in communicating with representatives of other nationalities.
Coming to a more specific issue of adaptation difficulties, a gender imbalance is revealed, so only 27 % of girls and 63 % of young men are satisfied with the sanitary condition of the kitchen and bathrooms in the dormitory. The situation with the sanitary condition of the rooms is even worse, so only 11 % of the girls and 42 % of the young men named sanitary condition of the rooms as perfect.
Girls (78 %) experience more than young men (53 %), who do not have the opportunity to see their relatives and friends.
Only 39 % of girls and 21 % of young men indicated difficulties in adapting to climatic conditions (cold, rain, snow, etc.). This group of respondents explained that the winters are too cold.
A small number of foreign students (18 %) are dissatisfied with food and water quality
It can be noted as a positive moment, the fact that a significant number of respondents 78 %, positively assess the teaching methodology.
Foreign students explained that the university the following forms of teaching are used often: problem lecture, lecture-visualization, lecture together, lecture with pre-planned errors, lecture – press conference.
Especially students like active imitative teaching methods: business game, pedagogical situations, pedagogical tasks, situation if initiation of various activities.
Foreign students studying in the YSPU explained that they are given the opportunity to obtain, in addition to higher education, various other abilities, knowledge and skills in the framework of additional education at the Institute for Human Resource Development.
The survey of university teachers showed that no difference is made for Russian or foreign students when teaching. Students are provided with lectures in Russian. It is necessary to note, that there is a huge amount of scientific literature in foreign languages in universities. This literature is recommended usually for self-study only.
In addition, the university teachers explained in their interviews that an increasing number of foreign students in Russian universities do not lead to the erosion of national identity. On the contrary, the growth in the number of students from the CIS and Baltic countries, and more recently the increase in the number of applicants and students from China, means an increase in the prestige of Russian education
Absolutely all university teachers and Russian students indicated that during the study they had never encountered interethnic and inter-confessional conflicts. 76 % of the Russian students interviewed explained that scientific and practical conferences and round tables are actively implemented at their universities, and during these activities the students are getting familiar with the specifics of the culture of different peoples. 65 % of students indicated that they have friends among foreign students and representatives of non-Russian peoples living of Russia.
Then we studied the opinion of Russian students about the reasons that lead to the fact that foreign youth come to Russia. The following answers were received (respondents could indicate several answers when responding):
– low level and quality of life in the native country of foreign students – 83 %;
– the lack of worthy universities in their countries, and the relative cheapness of studying in Russian universities – 54 %;
– foreign citizens do not have the opportunity to realize themselves in their native country – 44 %;
– personal or family problems – 26 %;
– high level of education in Russian universities – 25 %;
– other reasons – 9 %.
As it can be seen from the presented data, Russian students, in their majority, do not have a high opinion of the quality of Russian education.
A similar opinion is shared by experts. In addition, experts confirmed that many foreign citizens come to study in Russia, because in their countries the quality and standard of living are lower.
Experts explained that many foreign students from countries such as Uzbekistan and Tajikistan prefer not to return to their native country after receiving a diploma of higher education, but to create a family in Russia, and with a representative of their own nationality. Although in the last five years, there has been a different trend, namely, an increasing number of men from Tajikistan and Uzbekistan concluding inter-ethnic marriages.
Positional experts also noted that interethnic marriages are formed mainly according to the scheme “foreigner-local” and only a small percentage according to the “foreigner-foreigner” scheme. The same trend was revealed also by our sociological study.
Positional experts explained that in some regions around 30 % of all crimes are committed by migrants. In addition, the growth of social conflicts occurs when foreign citizens have a cultural and educational level, significantly lower than the one of Russian citizens.
We agree with the opinion of S.A. Baburkin that “in order to reduce interethnic and interconfessional conflicts, it is necessary to introduce special courses in the educational process aimed at forming a tolerant consciousness among students” .
Within the framework of the study, testing was conducted among foreign students and teachers. It was important for us as researchers to find out how well they have developed the skills and abilities of tolerant communication.
Testing showed that absolutely all teachers know that equity of all people in front of the law irrespective of gender, race, nationality, etc. is enshrined in the Constitution of the Russian Federation of 12.12.1993. It was also revealed that teachers know all the main provisions of the country’s basic law. This seems logical, since all employees of higher education are required to know the Constitution of Russia and to follow its provisions in their daily practice.
Unfortunately, testing with foreign students has shown that many provisions of the Constitution of the Russian Federation are not familiar to them. So, 47 % of foreign students do not know what rights and obligations Russian and foreign citizens have according to the Constitution of the Russian Federation.
In addition, it was found that 32 % of the foreign students surveyed believe that xenophobia is intolerance towards people of a different nationality, 17 % of respondents believe that xenophobia is ill-will toward all strangers, 13 % of respondents indicated that it is the obsessive fear of the whole new and strange.
It was found that 23 % of male and 41 % of female students believe that tolerance is a respectful attitude towards people of other nationalities or denominations. 12 % of young men and 17 % of girls believe that this is humility. 7 % of young men and 6 % of girls believe that this is the ability to adequately assess themselves and others.
Only 25 % of boys and 12 % of girls heard about gender tolerance. None of those participating in the survey is aware of sexual-orientational tolerance.
Only 14 % of young men and 18 % of girls have the knowledge of educational tolerance. 23 % of boys and 19 % of girls showed a high level of knowledge in inter-class tolerance sphere.
22 % of young men and 24 % of girls do not have a clear idea of the reasons for not tolerating people.
100 % of those who passed the test have a clear idea of racial and national tolerance.
Foreign students have demonstrated a high level of knowledge on such a phenomenon as a melting pot.
On the other hand, only 67 % of young men and 55 % of girls know the concept of cultural mosaic.
Unfortunately, only 7 % of young men and 5 % of girls know that there has been a “Declaration of Tolerance Principles” approved by UNESCO since 1995.
The situation with the knowledge of the international day devoted to tolerance is a little better, as 12 % of young men and 10 % of girls noted that this day is celebrated annually on November 16.
None of those, who answered to the test questions, knows that, the “International Day of Nonviolence” is celebrated annually on October 02.
Unfortunately, none of the testing participants knows that the European Council for Tolerance and Reconciliation is functioning, and there is a model national law on the development of tolerance.
Participants of the test have discovered superficial knowledge in such terms as anti-Semitism, antifeminism and hate crimes.
Only 42 % of boys and 31 % of girls are acquainted with the basic provisions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Only 4 % of foreign students know the resolution adopted by the General Assembly on December 20, 2012, No. 67/185 “Promoting efforts to eradicate violence against migrants, migrant workers and their families”.
Only 5 % of foreign students know about the resolution adopted by the General Assembly on December 20, 2012 No. 67/178 “The fight against intolerance, the formation of negative stereotypes, stigma, discrimination, incitement to violence and violence against people based on religion or belief”.
The resolution adopted by the General Assembly on December 19, 2017 No. 72/179 “Protection of migrants” is known to 34 % of young men and 61 % of girls, which is a pleasant result.
24 % of young men and 16 % of girls are familiar with the main goals and tasks of the leading intergovernmental organizations (UN, OSCE, Council of Europe).
Only 7 % of boys and 5 % of girls are acquainted with the concept of “irredentism”.
Foreign students, which passed the test, showed a high level of knowledge on such concepts as “diasporas”, “national minority”, “emigration”, “migration”. 65 % of young men and 78 % of girls correctly indicated that the economic reasons for migration are decisive. All participants of the test correctly answered that the larger the city, the more attractive it is.
89 % of male and 90 % of female respondents know that there is internal and external migration. 68 % of boys and 74 % of girls know that there is border or transit migration. 92 % of young men and 88 % of girls know that migration can be temporary and long-term.
The thing that seems to be very positive is that foreign students are also familiar with such a term as ruralization, that is, migration from cities to rural areas
Absolutely all foreign students who participated in the testing correctly indicated the main reasons for migration.
Excellent knowledge has been shown in issues related to current trends in international migration. 89 % of young men and 94 % of girls correctly noted that the main trends are: growth of illegal migration, growth of forced migration, increase in the demographic significance of international migration.
Foreign students have good ideas about the consequences of migration.
73 % of young men and 67 % of girls know all the scientific approaches to the study of migration.
Only 13 % of boys and 9 % of girls have an idea of existential migration.
Absolutely all foreign students correctly indicated the list of documents necessary for moving to Russia.
Unfortunately, only 41 % of boys and 32 % of girls have knowledge in the field of migration law.
Testing involved not only checking students’ knowledge of legal issues, but also main issues of psychology and sociology.
Thus, during the testing it was found that 32 % of young men and 41 % of girls believe that empathy – is compassion and sympathy for another person.
Foreign students do not have a proper understanding of such concepts as emotional empathy, cognitive empathy, predicative empathy.
More than half of foreign female students have fragmentary ideas about sexual harassment. And what is most worrisome, do not know what to do if they encounter such sexual abuse.
Then, the test had a question about nationalism. It was established that 31 % of young men and 24 % of girls believe that nationalism is an ideology that proclaims the superiority of one nation over another. 15 % of young men and 17 % of girls, that nationalism is cultural, ethnic and religious intolerance.
8 % of boys and 9 % of girls believe that nationalism and patriotism are synonyms.
As part of the testing, it was found that 37 % of young men and 71 % of girls are well treated with migrants and refugees. On the other hand, 45 % of young men and 62 % of girls believe that the level of crime in the country and the region is associated with increased migration.
What is interesting is that foreign students themselves, 57 % of boys and 82 % of girls believe that a significant part of foreign citizens from the nearest abroad behave defiantly and provoke conflicts, because their views on life differ significantly from the views and values of the local population
Only 33 % of young men 11 % of girls believe that migrants and refugees do not influence the growth of crime. They responded in the test that the local population itself provokes migrants to conflicts.
63 % of boys and 73 % of girls believe that it is not right to periodically conduct personal inspection of foreign citizens by the police in the streets.
52 % of young men and 69 % of girls indicated that their documents were checked by the police several times during the year.
As a result of the testing, it was established that foreign students in many important aspects have superficial views. In other words, it is necessary to conduct special lectures for foreign students and their successful adaptation aimed at raising their educational level and increasing their legal literacy.
In order to increase the effectiveness of multicultural policies for the integration of foreign students it is necessary to:
– systematically and purposefully conduct cultural events on the basis of universities within the framework of which to involve representatives of different nationalities;
– invite to universities of representatives of various diasporas, for discussions and open lectures for informing about the traditions of different peoples;
– for the teachers, first of all the curators of the groups, to raise the level of knowledge in the field of interethnic interaction on the periodical basis;
– universities should provide funds for the repair of rooms located in dormitories, primarily for foreign students. Either to provide a compensation for the cost of renting apartments;
– student canteens to find the opportunity to make a menu considering the traditions and customs of various nations of the world.
We believe that it is necessary to carry out sociological researches aimed at studying the forms and models of social adaptation and integration of foreign students. We also consider that a systematic study of this issue will allow to avoid a number of negative phenomena, in particular, such as the growth of deviant and delinquent behavior among migrants.