Relocation Two years of war

Russian academia in exile

How fugi­tive Russians expand their aca­d­e­m­ic opportunities

With the out­break of the war with Ukraine, accord­ing to var­i­ous sources, from 700 thou­sand to a mil­lion cit­i­zens, includ­ing sev­er­al thou­sand sci­en­tists, left Russia. This least loy­al to the regime and the most mobile and edu­cat­ed part of soci­ety con­tin­ued the tra­di­tions of ide­ol­o­gy-free edu­ca­tion that were laid in the last 30 years in Russia. Russian-speak­ing sci­en­tists scat­tered across dif­fer­ent coun­tries quick­ly unit­ed into pro­fes­sion­al com­mu­ni­ties of mutu­al assis­tance and mutu­al infor­ma­tion. One of the types of civic activ­i­ty and pro­fes­sion­al real­iza­tion was the launch of edu­ca­tion­al and research projects aimed at Russian-speak­ing stu­dents and scientists.

Unlike Russian uni­ver­si­ties, new asso­ci­a­tions solve not only edu­ca­tion­al, but also polit­i­cal and social problems:

  • offer alter­na­tive, indoc­tri­na­tion-free edu­ca­tion and research;
  • oppose author­i­tar­i­an­ism;
  • pre­serve human­i­tar­i­an knowl­edge, which is being destroyed in Russia;
  • pre­serve Russian-speak­ing edu­ca­tion­al and sci­en­tif­ic communities;
  • cre­ate free dis­cus­sion spaces where you can ana­lyze and explore the changes tak­ing place in Russia and dis­cuss the prospects for the devel­op­ment of Russian soci­ety and the state.

Below we will talk about where Russian-speak­ing stu­dents can meet their for­mer teach­ers, find alter­na­tive research and edu­ca­tion­al envi­ron­ments and expand their under­stand­ing of the social and polit­i­cal process­es tak­ing place in Russia. Please note that some of the projects are rec­og­nized as unde­sir­able orga­ni­za­tions and inter­ac­tion with them may result in per­se­cu­tion in Russia, includ­ing crim­i­nal liability.

Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences in Montenegro

Location: Budva, Montenegro (offline).
Foundation date: Autumn 2022.
Accreditation: February 2024.

Receiving accred­i­ta­tion means that FLAS pro­grams meet inter­na­tion­al stan­dards and are approved by the Montenegrin gov­ern­ment. Montenegro is includ­ed in the Bologna process, stu­dents and grad­u­ates FLAS pro­grams will be able to under­go intern­ships and trans­fer to oth­er European uni­ver­si­ties, enroll in mas­ter’s pro­grams or work in their spe­cial­ty, like grad­u­ates of any European bach­e­lor’s degrees.

Who teach­es: Dean Marina Kalashnikova is a philol­o­gist, she first worked at the Smolny Institute of St. Petersburg State University, and in 2020-2022 she head­ed the Faculty of Liberal Arts at the Institute social sci­ences RANEPA and opened the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences of the Moscow Higher School of Economics and Social Sciences (Shaninka).

Dinara Gagarina is the head of the Digital Humanities major. Victor Vakhshtein over­sees the direc­tion of Social Theory and Sociological Research. The head of the Cross-Cultural Linguistics major is Elena Shmeleva.

The head of the FLAS pro­gram on New Political Sciences is Vasily Zharkov, an expert at the Sapere Aude School of Civic Education (for­mer­ly the Moscow School of Political Studies), a vis­it­ing lec­tur­er at the European Humanities University in Vilnius, and in the past - dean of the Faculty of Political Sciences of the Moscow Higher School of Economics and Social Sciences (Shaninki). Ksenia Luchenko - head of the major Media Studies & Journalism, jour­nal­ist, for­mer dean of the Faculty of Media Communications of the Moscow Higher School of Economics and Social Sciences (Shaninki) and head of the Department of Theory and Practice of Media Communications at the RANEPA. Nadezhda Chamina is an art his­to­ri­an, trans­la­tor, and art crit­ic. Associate Professor of the Faculty of Humanities at the Higher School of Economics, lec­tur­er at the British Higher School of Design and the Masters School project (Moscow - St. Petersburg), guest lec­tur­er at the European Humanities University (Vilnius).

FLAS co-founders are polit­i­cal sci­en­tist Lyubomir Filipovich (Montenegro), founder of the edu­ca­tion­al com­pa­ny Edumonte Vladimir Shmelev and Andrey Fetisov (ex-direc­tor of the School of Media Communications of the Institute of Social Sciences of the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration). Among the mem­bers of the board of trustees are Ekaterina Shulman and Andrei Zorin, pro­fes­sor of the Russian lan­guage depart­ment at Oxford.

Goal: “Our task is to rebuild the uni­ver­si­ty, free­ing teach­ers from any admin­is­tra­tive dic­tate. We work to ensure that mod­ern knowl­edge is avail­able to every­one, with­out censorship.”

Description: The fac­ul­ty offers a bach­e­lor’s degree pro­grammain­ly in English (stu­dents will also learn Montenegrin) and 10-week prepara­to­ry cours­es for admis­sion. The first stu­dents will begin class­es in September 2024 in the areas of Art History, Cross-Cultural Linguistics, Digital Humanities, Media Studies and Journalism, New Political Science, Social Theory and Sociological Research. 

Minimum lev­el of edu­ca­tion: High school. You must pass an exam or doc­u­ment a TOEFL English lan­guage lev­el of at least 85.

Duration of train­ing: Three years.

Tuition fees: 5000 euros per year.

Budva, Montenegro. Wikipedia

“Free University”

Status: Undesirable orga­ni­za­tion.
Place: Online.
Foundation date: August 2020.

Who teach­es: The ini­tia­tors of the project are teach­ers of the School of Philosophy Viktor and Yulia Gorbatov, Kirill Martynov and pro­fes­sor of the Faculty of Law of the Higher School of Economics Elena Lukyanova. The cir­cle of invit­ed teach­ers is extreme­ly wide, it includes, among oth­ers, Hasan Guseinov, Olga Romanova, Ilya Ber, Valery Panyushkin, Elena Fanailova, Ilya Shablinsky, Dmitry Dubrovsky, Leonid Gozman, Dmitry Bykov, Grigory Amnuel, Marat Gelman, Victor Vakhshtain. The edu­ca­tion­al pro­gram is divid­ed into sev­er­al schools and work­shops ded­i­cat­ed to his­to­ry, polit­i­cal sci­ence and oth­er dis­ci­plines. Now you can apply for four pro­grams, for exam­ple, for the basic course by Ruslan Loshakov “Phenomenology of Events”. In addi­tion, lec­tures by the Free University can be found on Youtube.

Goal: “Our task is to rebuild the uni­ver­si­ty, free­ing teach­ers from any admin­is­tra­tive dic­tate. We work to ensure that mod­ern knowl­edge is avail­able to every­one, with­out censorship.”

Directions of study: Media school, phi­los­o­phy and reli­gious stud­ies, polit­i­cal sci­ence and law, his­to­ry and his­tor­i­cal mem­o­ry, exact sci­ences, busi­ness, philol­o­gy and cul­tur­al sciences.

Minimum lev­el of edu­ca­tion: Courses are divid­ed into advanced and basic.

Terms of edu­ca­tion: One semester.

Payment: Free (except for School of Management and Business cours­es), dona­tions are welcome. 

New School of Political Science

Place: Online.

The New School of Political Science (NSPS) is an inde­pen­dent edu­ca­tion­al online project for any­one who wants to under­stand how domes­tic and inter­na­tion­al pol­i­tics works in both democ­ra­cies and author­i­tar­i­an regimes. 

Foundation date: Autumn 2022.

Who teach­es: Association of for­mer teach­ers of HSE, Shaninka, Moscow State University, St. Petersburg State University, Institute of Europe of the Russian Academy of Sciences, European University, work­ing abroad. The most icon­ic teach­ers: Sergey Erofeev, Ella Rosman, Ilya Matveev, Alexander Tevdoy-Burmuli, Ilya Budraitskis, Alexander Sherstobitov.

Goal: “To pro­vide sys­tem­at­ic knowl­edge about the fun­da­men­tals of polit­i­cal sci­ence, but to make it inter­est­ing and excit­ing. We hope that in the sit­u­a­tion of cat­a­stro­phe in which Russia has plunged, our school will return the ground under someone’s feet, inspire some­one and pre­pare par­tic­i­pants for a future in which pol­i­tics will return to the every­day lives of citizens.”

Description: The project cur­rent­ly presents six cours­es devot­ed to var­i­ous aspects of pol­i­tics: from inter­na­tion­al rela­tions to the recent polit­i­cal his­to­ry of Russia. For exam­ple, Sergei Erofeev, for­mer vice-rec­tor for inter­na­tion­al affairs at the Higher School of Economics, and now a teacher at Rutgers University (USA), teach­es a spe­cial course “The Social Nature of Power and War.” Ella Rossman, a doc­tor­al stu­dent at the School of Slavic and East European Studies at University College London, leads the sem­i­nar “Russian History in Gender Perspective.” Areas of study: inter­ac­tive cours­es and sem­i­nars on polit­i­cal sci­ence, his­to­ry, inter­na­tion­al rela­tions in small groups.

Minimum lev­el of edu­ca­tion: No.

Duration of train­ing: 14 lessons of 3 hours, once a week in the evenings.

Paymenta: 5000 rub. per course. 

Smolny is beyond borders

Place: Online.

Foundation date: November 2022.

Who teach­es: Former teach­ers of Smolny College with the sup­port of Bard College at Annandale-on-Hudson in New York and Bard College in Berlin. Among the teach­ers are Alexey Gilev, Andrey Rodin, Eva Atanasova. 

Goal: Smolny beyond bor­ders seeks to insti­tu­tion­al­ly recre­ate Smolny as a col­lege of lib­er­al arts and sci­ences, but already out­side the struc­ture of St. Petersburg State University, not only sup­port­ing teach­ers as much as pos­si­ble, stu­dents and grad­u­ates who left Russia, but also pro­vid­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties for attract­ing and train­ing new stu­dents, as well as pre­serv­ing the lib­er­al arts edu­ca­tion­al mod­el and asso­ci­at­ed suc­cess­ful ped­a­gog­i­cal prac­tices in the Russian-speak­ing inter­na­tion­al­ly ori­ent­ed com­mu­ni­ty. This is about equip­ping the next gen­er­a­tion of stu­dents and teach­ers with the tools to rethink the role of mod­ern Russia in the world, to advance a dif­fer­ent path that implies its role as a respon­si­ble mem­ber of the glob­al community.”

Description: Smolny Beyond Borders includes Smolny College (Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences of St. Petersburg State University), the largest project of Russian-American coop­er­a­tion in the field of high­er edu­ca­tion, and the Gagarin Center for the Study of Civil Society and Human Rights (Gagarin Center at Bard College), a forum for expa­tri­ate schol­ars to research and dis­cuss top­ics relat­ed to con­tem­po­rary issues of social and eco­nom­ic devel­op­ment and human rights.

Today, 20 cours­es have been opened in lit­er­a­ture, phi­los­o­phy, polit­i­cal sci­ence, pro­gram­ming, psy­chol­o­gy, soci­ol­o­gy, cul­tur­al stud­ies, but only some of them are taught in Russian.

Minimum lev­el of edu­ca­tion: Master’s cours­es available.

Duration of train­ing: Semester, twice a week.

Payment: Free.

Bazaleti Uni

Place: Online.

Foundation date: The project dates back to the late 2000s, when on Lake Bazaleti 40 kilo­me­ters from Tbilisi, in a train­ing cen­ter found­ed by Kakha Bendukidze Free University, “sum­mer schools” were held, where stu­dents from post-Soviet coun­tries dis­cussed the prob­lems of demo­c­ra­t­ic tran­si­tion and a new free civ­il soci­ety. Bazaleti Uni con­tin­ues this tradition.

Who teach­es: Constant recruit­ment of teach­ers, includ­ing stel­lar researchers: Grigory Yudin, Ella Paneyakh, Linor Goralik, Alexandra Panchenko.

Goal: To com­bine knowl­edge about the struc­ture of the world around us with the val­ues of civic par­tic­i­pa­tion and social entre­pre­neur­ship skills in order to togeth­er cre­ate a soci­ety in which there is no place for wars and polit­i­cal repression.

Description: The Bazaleti Uni edu­ca­tion­al project is intend­ed for Russian-speak­ing stu­dents. It includes three pro­grams: “Social World”, “Collective Actions” and “Russian Culture?”. Each of them includes sev­er­al online cours­es. For exam­ple, in the block “Russian cul­ture?” class­es in Russian cul­tur­al mythol­o­gy, folk stud­ies, Westernization of Russia and oth­erdis­ci­plines. span>

Minimum lev­el of edu­ca­tion: No.

Duration of study: Annual pro­grams con­sist of six cours­es of lec­tures. Classes once a week for two hours.

Tuition cost: Free, but there is a competition.

Master’s program “Russian Studies” Foundation named after. B. Nemtsov at Charles University

Place: Prague, Czech Republic (offline).

Foundation date: September 2023.

Who teach­es: Among the teach­ers are Russian and Western experts such as Sergey Medvedev, Timothy Fry, Dmitry Dubrovsky, Andrey Richter, Ilya Yablokov, Ivan Fomin .

Goal: To pre­pare spe­cial­ists who will be able to work in the com­mer­cial sphere, inter­na­tion­al orga­ni­za­tion­sniza­tions, gov­ern­ment bod­ies of demo­c­ra­t­ic coun­tries, non-gov­ern­men­tal orga­ni­za­tions and media focused on the Russian-speak­ing envi­ron­ment, the post-Soviet space or Russian-speak­ing com­mu­ni­ties out­side of Russia.

Description: “Russian Studies” is a mas­ter’s pro­gram aimed at study­ing the his­to­ry, pol­i­tics and soci­ol­o­gy of Russia after 1991. The cur­ricu­lum includes sev­er­al com­pul­so­ry cours­es, as well as the­mat­ic blocks of com­pul­so­ry elec­tive cours­es with a vari­able offer of lec­tures and sem­i­nars (soci­ety, inter­nal pol­i­tics and eco­nom­ics of post-Soviet Russia; for­eign pol­i­cy of Russia after the col­lapse of the USSR; lan­guage and sym­bols of mod­ern Russian pol­i­tics, cul­ture and iden­ti­ty; jour­nal­ism and media in post-Soviet Russia). Upon suc­cess­ful com­ple­tion of the pro­gram, grad­u­ates receive a European diplo­ma of high­er edu­ca­tion from Charles University.

Minimum lev­el of edu­ca­tion: Bachelor. Knowledge of the Russian lan­guage is not low­er than lev­el C1 (accord­ing to CEFR for lan­guages), knowl­edge of English is not low­er than lev­el B2 (accord­ing to CEFR for lan­guages), hav­ing basic knowl­edge of the his­to­ry of Russia and knowl­edge of the polit­i­cal and social real­i­ties of mod­ern Russia. Competition, you must pass three exams.

Duration of train­ing: Two years.

Tuition fees: 140 thou­sand Czech crowns per year, which can be par­tial­ly cov­ered by a schol­ar­ship from the foun­da­tion. B. Nemtsova.

Charles University. Wikipedia

Student program Olim Le-Academy at the University of Beer Sheva

Place: Beer Sheva, Israel (offline).

Foundation date: Autumn 2022.

Goal: “According to the Ministry of Absorption, in 2022, more than 60,000 peo­ple from the coun­tries of the for­mer Soviet Union repa­tri­at­ed to Israel, 20% of them aged 18 to 35 years old. The pecu­liar­i­ty of this wave of repa­tri­a­tion is that these young peo­ple did not have the oppor­tu­ni­ty to plan their arrival to Israel.

We can safe­ly say that we are talk­ing about repa­tri­at­ed refugees who were forced to leave almost all their prop­er­ty, their dreams and hopes in the coun­try of ori­gin. Many of them were plan­ning to get a high­er edu­ca­tion, but real­i­ty abrupt­ly changed their plans and turned them into con­fused peo­ple, lack­ing con­fi­dence in the future, for whom Israel became a new home. Our most impor­tant task is to do every­thing pos­si­ble to help these young peo­ple real­ize their poten­tial for the ben­e­fit of our state.” (Alena Kushnir, head of the university’s inter­na­tion­al rela­tions department.)

Who teach­es: Local repa­tri­ate teach­ers, the pro­gram is led by a pro­fes­sor at the Department of Materials Science at the University. Ben-Gurion Louise Meshi.

Description: University pro­gram named after. Ben-Gurion is designed for stu­dents aged 18 to 27 years old who arrived in Israel in 2022-2023 and is adapt­ed to the needs of Russian-speak­ing repa­tri­ate stu­dents. In the first year, stu­dents will take six core cours­es in physics, cal­cu­lus, lin­ear alge­bra and pro­gram­ming in Russian. In addi­tion, the pro­gram includes inten­sive Hebrew study (1000 aca­d­e­m­ic hours). Throughout the pro­gram, par­tic­i­pants can count on addi­tion­al indi­vid­ual lessons, assis­tance from men­tors and con­sul­tants (as well as a social work­er and psy­chol­o­gist). In addi­tion, at the end of the first year of study, based on the results of the exams, Olim Le-Academy par­tic­i­pants can be enrolled in the uni­ver­si­ty. Ben-Gurion with­out hav­ing to take the psy­cho­me­t­ric test required for uni­ver­si­ty admission.

Minimum lev­el of edu­ca­tion: Secondary school, you must pass an entrance exam in math­e­mat­ics in Russian, pro­fi­cien­cy in English.

Duration of train­ing: One year.

Tuition fees: Financed by the Office of Student Affairs under the Ministry of Aliyah and Integration. If cer­tain con­di­tions are met, you can receive a scholarship.

University. Ben Gurion in Beersheba. Wikipedia

Academic program Ariel B.A.

Place: Ariel, Israel (offline).

Foundation date: Autumn 2022.

Who teach­es: Local repa­tri­ate teachers.

Goal: Integration of new immi­grants into Israeli science.

Description: Academic pro­gram Ariel B.A. offers two areas of study in Russian for stu­dents aged 16-20: BSc in Physics (first degree in physics). Economics and Business Administration (first degree in eco­nom­ics). In par­al­lel, stu­dents will take an inten­sive Hebrew course (500 hours). The sec­ond year of the bach­e­lor’s degree involves study­ing in Hebrew. Successful com­ple­tion of the course makes it pos­si­ble to enroll with­out entrance exams and pass­ing a psy­cho­me­t­ric test at Ariel University for the Pre-Med degree (bach­e­lor’s degree, 3 years of study).

Minimum lev­el of edu­ca­tion: Secondary school, good per­for­mance in spe­cial­ized sub­jects. It is also nec­es­sary to pass an inter­view with the organizer.

Duration of train­ing: Duration of the pro­gram is 6-12 months.

Tuition cost: Personal par­tic­i­pa­tion: $2300.

Ariel University. The Jewish Agency of Israel

Program Olim le Madaim at Bar-Ilan University 

Place: Ramat Gan, Israel (offline).

Foundation date: Autumn 2022.

Who teach­es: Local repa­tri­ate teachers.

Goal: Integration of new immi­grants into Israeli science.

Description: The pro­gram is aimed at study­ing math­e­mat­ics and physics. In par­al­lel, Hebrew cours­es will be orga­nized. The first year of study will be held in Russian. But start­ing from the sec­ond year, train­ing will take place in Hebrew togeth­er with all stu­dents of the depart­ments of physics and math­e­mat­ics. Graduates of the pro­gram will receive a bach­e­lor’s degree in physics and math­e­mat­ics and will be able to con­tin­ue their mas­ter’s stud­ies in any of these two depart­ments. The sec­ond degree includes research work in the field of fun­da­men­tal or applied sci­ence and, as a rule, high tech­nol­o­gy (hi-tech).

Minimum lev­el of edu­ca­tion: High school plus entrance exam and per­son­al inter­view (in per­son on the Bar-Ilan cam­pus), pass­ing a test on the lev­el of Hebrew.

Duration of train­ing: Three years.

Tuition fees: Unknown, schol­ar­ship possible.

Bar-Ilan University. Bar-Ilan University

New PhD program supported by Google Quantum,within the Faculty of Mathematics and Physics of the University of Ljubljana

Place: Ljubljana, Slovenia (offline).

Foundation date: September 2023.

Who teach­es: Squan­tum physics spe­cial­ists from Russia, the head of the grad­u­ate pro­gram is Doctor of Physics and Mathematics, for­mer deputy direc­tor of the Institute of Theoretical Physics named after L. D. Landau RAS and for­mer head of the basic depart­ment of the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology “Problems of Theoretical Physics” at the ITP. L.D. Landau RAS Mikhail Feigelman.

Goal: Andthe ini­tia­tive is being devel­oped with the sci­en­tif­ic sup­port of Google Quantum AI and the Center of Excellence in Nanoscience and Nanotechnology - Nanocentre in Ljubljana QT Future. The pro­gram cov­ers both the­o­ret­i­cal and exper­i­men­tal research and pro­vides edu­ca­tion in the fields of many-body quan­tum physics, the physics of quan­tum com­put­ers and sim­u­la­tors, new quan­tum mate­ri­als, nano­elec­tron­ics and quan­tum optics. The list of spe­cif­ic research top­ics is flex­i­ble and cur­rent­ly also includes a num­ber of prob­lems for­mu­lat­ed by Google Quantum.

Description: Students study­ing at QT Future can real­ize their doc­tor­al research in lead­ing lab­o­ra­to­ries for quan­tum tech­nolo­gies: the Max Planck Institute for Solid State Research in Stuttgart, Néel Institute in Grenoble, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Delft Technical University, Josef Stefan Institute in Ljubljana, Weizmann Institute in Rehovot.

Google Quantum

Association “Independent Philosophy Institute” (IPHI)

Location: Paris, France (offline /​ online).

Date of foun­da­tion: ОSeptember 2022.

Who unites: The inde­pen­dent Institute of Philosophy was cre­at­ed by Yulia Sineoka, ex-deputy direc­tor for sci­en­tif­ic work and ex-head of the sec­tor of the his­to­ry of Western phi­los­o­phy of the Institute of Russian Philosophy Academy of Sciences. Initially, the asso­ci­a­tion was planned as an inter­na­tion­al pro­fes­sion­al asso­ci­a­tion focused on help­ing emi­grat­ed researchers in the field of phi­los­o­phy. But very quick­ly Russian-speak­ing human­i­ties schol­ars from a vari­ety of fields joined in.

Goal: Pto help depart­ed col­leagues and con­duct joint sci­en­tif­ic research with spe­cial­ists around the world.

Description: Chlena asso­ci­a­tions par­tic­i­pate in the life of the European sci­en­tif­ic com­mu­ni­ty in the for­mat of their own events at the Sorbonne and par­tic­i­pa­tion in con­fer­ences accred­it­ed by the asso­ci­a­tion. In addi­tion, IPHI par­tic­i­pants are devel­op­ing 17 projects, half of which are work­shops. Work is under­way on the Dictionary of the Political Language of Putin’s Russia. Podcasts are planned to be launched.

Participation cost: Сsym­bol­ic annu­al mem­ber­ship fee.

Program for young mathematicians and theoretical physicists from Russia, Ukraine and Belarus at the London Institute of Mathematical Sciences

Location: London, UK (offline).

Date: February 2023.

Goal: Supporting young sci­en­tists through the V. Arnold and L. Landau schol­ar­ship, which will pro­vide them with greater free­dom and inde­pen­dence in choos­ing areas of research. This ini­tia­tive is part of an assis­tance pro­gram for the­o­ret­i­cal math­e­mati­cians affect­ed by the war in Ukraine.

If you have become the ini­tia­tor or orga­niz­er of an aca­d­e­m­ic pro­gram for immi­grants from Russia, Ukraine and Belarus and want to know about it, write to us at [email protected] or chat bot in Telegram @invariant2023_bot.

Text: Marina Steinberg


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