Study Abroad to Succeed in Russia

How did you join the “Global Education” program?

Before enrolling in this post graduate program in Tel Aviv, I was studying for six years at ITMO University and during that time got plenty of experience in scientific research, I travelled to conferences in Europe, USA, and Australia, I also worked with foreign academics and by the time I finished my Masters, I had published 27 articles in indexed international journals. When the question arose about where to do my PhD, my colleagues suggested that I choose Tel Aviv University.

The application for participation in the “Global Education” program, first requires that you enrol in a foreign university. Then there is a short list made on the basis of the CV’s and the portfolios of candidates, and finally a special panel decides whether to accept the application. If tuition is required for your studies, the program sponsors you and pays for your tuition; however, it doesn’t cover additional costs such as housing, visa and so on. The main terms for participation is that one must study abroad, graduate from an international university, and after that should return to Russia to work for a specific period of time.

Generally, students who want to enrol in foreign masters and PhD studies, usually apply for a scholarship which will cover their tuition, travel and accommodation. Since applying for a scholarship is usually quite difficult and complicated, this program is a much better option for getting into a good foreign university.

What are your scientific interests?

I am continuing to research metamaterials, my main area of interest is radiophysics, optical physics, and the overlap between them. I have been involved in various projects, the project I liked most was protyping optical nanostructures in the microwave frequency range. The idea is that integrated circuits for modern computers and phones work on the nanoscale, so it is important to design nanoobjects and study their properties in detail. But to do this in the optical frequency range is either very expensive or technologically impossible. Instead, you can take almost any object, increase its size and study it in the radio-frequency or microwave range, which allows you to obtain much more information about specific structures or elements, be it super directivity, dielectric nanoantennas, Yagi-Uda antennas, waveguides and so on.

What is the difference between working and studying in Israel and in Russia? Maybe there are some slight differences, for example, amongst the interaction of colleagues?

The difference is mainly felt in terms of the inner structures of Tel Aviv University. The university has a huge variety of courses in different fields, say in medicine, economics, physics and so on. There are more than 30,000 students, and all this takes place on one large student complex. So, if you need, for example some kind of equipment, you don’t have to go very far, but rather just stop by at a nearby department. Sometimes we are involved in projects which are not directly related to my field, for example, related to biology, but for research of biological specimens, scientists use super-high frequency technologies.  In such cases, we can meet together easily since we are in neighbouring buildings and this is very convenient. At the same time, I don’t see any specific difference between how academics at Tel Aviv University any other university interact: if someone is a specialist, they are a specialist anywhere.

Have you already decided where you will work after your PhD?

The participants of the “Global education” program must work at least three years within one of the companies which are listed as partners of the program. The list currently consists of about 150 commercial and educational organisations including ITMO University. I haven’t delved deeply into world of job hunting, I’m planning to do this in around five years time. Nevertheless, I’ve started to receive offers with different options: even if I don’t find something myself within three months after returning to Russia a job will be provided for me. One can change their job amongst companies within the list, but no more than three times, unless of course there is an unavoidable circumstances.

When I was leaving for Israel, I already received job offers from several large Moscow and St. Petersburg companies, which were ready to employ me on a permanent basis. I’m thinking of working either in the engineering field or in the education field, for example, at an R&D lab within a university, so I can combine research with teaching. A PhD from a reputable foreign university, only increases the value of an applicant in the business sector.

On the website of the Agency for Strategic Initiatives (ASI), there is a text stating that ASI will monitor the progress of every graduate of the program. Are you happy to have this kind of attention and are you planning to continue to cooperate with ASI?

I don’t perceive it as “control” but rather like “support” – I understand that these solutions are designed to encourage people to stay and work in their own country rather than working overseas. But most recently I see that in Russia more and more interesting positions are opening up where there is a good salary and comfortable working conditions. Offers must be interesting for both parties and as the “Global Education” program develops, I will gladly take their advice.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to participate in this program?

I would suggest to participate in as many Russian and overseas events as possible. If you have a good portfolio, including presentations at conferences, winning various competitions and publishing articles, then this will very much increase your chances of getting a grant.