Will US Restrictions on Russia Hurt Academic Exchange?

Nations around the world have already established economic, cultural and travel restrictions on Russia. Now colleges across the United States are facing pressure to implement educational limits against the country.

The restrictions could affect the exchange of students between the two countries. And they could end research projects that receive money from American universities

Academic and financial restrictions

For many American colleges, the first concern has been bringing home American students studying in Russia or Ukraine. About 1,400 Americans studied in these countries in 2018, but the numbers have dropped sharply during the pandemic.

When Russia invaded Ukraine, Middlebury College in Vermont suspended a study abroad program in Russia in late February. The school urged the 12 students to return home immediately for safety reasons.

Among them was Zavier Ridgley of Tulane University in New Orleans. Ridgley said he was sad to leave. He called the program in Moscow “the opportunity of a lifetime.”

Other schools, such as Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, are canceling future study programs in Russia. And some end financial and educational links in the country.

Tulane University senior Zavier Ridgley poses for a self-portrait outside Moscow State University in Moscow, Russia in January 2022.

Shortly after the invasion, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MIT, declared that it was ending its Partnership with a school in Moscow called Skoltech, an English-language technology university, which she helped start in 2011. MIT officials called it a rejection of “unacceptable military actions against Ukraine.”

The University of Colorado said it was forgoing all of its investments, including $3.5 million, in Russia. The move came after Colorado state leaders urged the school to sever ties.

In the state of Arizona, all public universities have declared that they are ending relations with Russia. And Arizona State University said its business school would end ties with a training center in Moscow. The heads of state of Ohio and Virginia have also asked their public universities to end investments in Russia.

Stanford University, however, is not ending its $1.6 million Russian contract for computer-based business courses. The university said it was “full compliance” with US restrictions.

Russian students in the United States

the 2021 Open House Report said about 5,000 Russian students studied in the United States last year. Additionally, just under 2,000 Ukrainian students were in the United States.

After the invasion, a few US lawmakers lobbied for visa restrictions against Russian students. One of them even called for sending Russian students home. Speaking to CNN last month, Rep. Eric Swalwell said the United States should consider sending “all Russian students out of the United States.”

Advocates of international education say losing these students would end their chance to learn about the West ideals. They say Russians studying in America are already more likely to want changes at home.

Jill Welch is a senior advisor for a group of college presidents called the Presidents Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration. “Leaders must make a distinction between Putin and Russians who want a better life,” she said, quoting Russian President Vladimir Putin. “Firing someone would not shorten the war by one day.”

That’s a concern for Liudmila Fedorova, a professor at Georgetown University in Washington, DC Fedorova was born in Russia and educated in Moscow.

“It is extremely important not to cut ties with Russia. Most students who come to study English oppose the diet. And in fact, especially now, there will be a lot of Russian students apply for US programs.

Fedorova told VOA she was concerned about the exchange of ideas between the United States and Russia if the study programs were interrupted.

“I know that the most important thing now is the war in Ukraine, but I am also very concerned about my friends in Russia who are fighting for peace, who find themselves in danger. And there is no escape for them.

I am Dan Friedell.

The Associated Press reported this story. Dan Friedell adapted this story for Learn English with additional features.

Do you think students will be able to come to the United States from Russia in the future? Do you think American students will go there? Let us know. Write to us in the comments section and visit our Facebook page.

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words in this story

opportunity – nm a chance or a time when something can be done

financial– adj. relating to money

Partnership – nm a connection or relationship, two groups working together

compliance – nm doing something that is necessary, following a rule

ideals – nm an idea or standard of perfection or excellence

distinction – nm the separation of people or things into different groups

diet – nm a form of government or management

apply – v. formally ask for something like a job or a place in a school

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