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State-Funded Study Abroad Program Delayed, Report Says

The Kremlin has held back a proposed program to give financial support to the most talented Russian students undertaking postgraduate degrees in top foreign universities because there is no guarantee that the economy will benefit from the outlay.

The program was aimed at raising the standard of Russia's workforce, but the presidential administration thought the project was still underdeveloped, especially in terms of proposing effective measures that could make students come home to work for at least three years.

Ultimately, however, the funds for that program were redistributed to programs supporting the development of the Russian language abroad, an unidentified government official told Kommersant.

The initiative, dubbed "Global Education," was put forward by then-President Dmitry Medvedev in 2010. It awarded 3,000 Russians who had been admitted by the top 300 internationally ranked universities with up to 1.5 million rubles ($45,500) in annual scholarships.

The proposed program was aimed at aspiring students who would increase the competitiveness of the Russian education and science spheres, as well as the quality of management both in government and in high-tech companies.

But Kremlin officials have criticized the program for focusing too much on the development of future managers and policymakers when it should be trying to help students specializing in sciences.

In addition, many experts predict that it will mostly be the offspring of government officials who benefit from the program.

The Kremlin also objected to the fact that there is no clear mechanism to ensure that graduates  eventually come back to Russia and contribute to its economy.

But Dmitry Peskov — one of the project's developers — said that if a graduate does not come back, he would have to pay back the funding with interest.

Given that the program will not be launched this year, students who have already applied to study next year will not be able to get government grants.

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