According to Vladimir Vasilyev, ITMO University’s Rector, in the 2020-2021 academic year, the university will spend about 600 million rubles on students’ salaries and projects in addition to having a scholarship budget of about 430 million rubles per year.
“It’s a priority of the university to support students’ undertakings administratively and financially. Many students start working in their first year of studies. We would like them to apply their skills at ITMO. Here, they are creators, developers, and users all at the same time. It’s a unique combination where everyone wins. The most important thing is to create a necessary environment and offer an opportunity,” says Vladimir Vasilyev.
Distance learning option
In the new academic year, all students will be able to choose whether they will go to the university and learn offline, or stay at home and learn online.
“We understand that not all students – both Russian and international – will be able to come here due to accommodation, transportation, or personal reasons. However, we will begin a new academic year for everyone, both for offline and online students,” says Daria Kozlova, the university’s First Vice Rector. “Moreover, even Introduction Days, the opening event of each academic year during which students become acquainted with ITMO University, will take place both online and offline.”
All the departments are getting ready to provide a mixed form of studies. Classes will be equipped with cameras for online streaming of the lectures, so that students who won’t be able to come to St. Petersburg would be able to study remotely. If they will be located in another timezone, they will be able to watch or listen to the recording in any suitable time.
It’s harder to arrange practical classes and laboratory work, but the university’s staff is working on this problem by developing opportunities for conducting virtual lab assignments and other solutions. In the event that a mixed format of studies wouldn’t be possible, for example, in foreign language classes, offline students will have separate lessons.
“We are acquiring a lot of various equipment and increasing our capacities, as we will need to store a massive amount of lectures and information,” says Daria Kozlova. “Now, we are working on an online platform with short lectures and notes that would be accessible to applicants and students of ITMO and other universities. ITMO University’s value is openness, and that extends to streaming lectures. We are ready to provide open access to them, and this is undoubtedly an advantage given the current situation.”
The First Vice Rector also notes that if COVID-19 won’t allow the students to begin the spring semester offline, the mixed format of studies, as well as remote exams, will continue further.
All students are interested in not only getting education, but also in becoming financially stable – but not at the expense of studies and research. ITMO.FUTURE allows the students to succeed both ways.
This project is a part of the university’s digital transformation. All students of ITMO University can take part in this contest. Its goal is to collect ideas for improving the university and offer an opportunity to develop and implement them.
The winners will not only get a chance to contribute to the development of ITMO University, but also gain financially.
“We plan to spend about 10 million rubles on supporting the teams and individual participants. This money will be spent on the participants’ salaries; a separate fund of 50 to 300 thousand rubles will be used to finance the projects,” says Evgenii Raskin, the head of ITMO University's Youth Policy Office.
From studying to teaching
Master’s and PhD students of ITMO University will be able to try themselves at teaching. ITMO.MENTORS is the new project of the university to be launched next semester.
In order to take part, a student must write a motivation letter, attend an interview, and provide two recommendation letters. Those who will pass the selection will start learning how to teach in September.
“As part of this project, students can learn more about their chosen field of studies and teaching in itself, thus having an opportunity to get a job at the university later,” says Kristina Ivanova, the head of Center for Educational Management and Quality Assurance in ISU. “The participants will be able to assist professors during classes, as well as develop and check tests and home tasks.”
The students will not only gain job experience, but also will be paid. Teaching can’t take up more than 10 hours per week (including reviewing home tasks). For this amount of work, students can earn 15,000 rubles excluding taxes. Fee-paying students can also take part.
The top participants of the program will be prepared for actual teaching and can participate in the contest for professors and teachers of ITMO University once they’ve graduated.
Working at the university’s departments
ITMO University employs both its graduates and current students, who may help improve the university while gaining their first job experience. Depending on their background, they can apply for research, engineering, administrative, and other positions. Overall, 20% of students work at the university, mostly in research, administrative, and service departments, says Daria Kozlova. In the 2018-2019 academic year, 508 million rubles were spent on their salaries. In the coming year, 60 million rubles will be added to this number.
One of the key goals of ITMO University is scientific development and the fulfillment of its students’ potential. That’s why the university offers them to participate in scientific activities and make money without the need to work elsewhere.
“Each year we employ up to a thousand students who deal with research and science,” says Oleg Eliseev, director of the Student Science Center. “They join research teams, attend conferences, publish their papers, and travel the world as part of student exchange programs.”
There are three opportunities for employment in research and project activities:
Research for Master’s and PhD students
The university allows Master’s and PhD students to participate in research at their faculties. Thanks to this opportunity, students are officially employed and receive paychecks for the duration of their research. Overall, 188 million rubles were allocated for this program during the 2019-2020 academic year, with 24 projects created.
According to Sergey Kolyubin, the head of the Master's Programs Department, students who join initiative projects can not only contribute to the research, publish some papers, and present their work at conferences, but are also officially employed in an engineering position, which allows them to increase their scholarship up to 25 thousand rubles per month. That way, they can earn money as part of their studies.
Each year, ITMO University arranges a contest for R&D projects among ITMO University students with a budget of 2.5 million rubles. Heads of these projects are Master’s or PhD students themselves. By the end of the program, teams that participate in the contest are expected to present a functional hardware prototype along with technical documentation describing its prospects for scaling and commercialization on an independent basis or with ITMO’s support. Another goal of this contest is to improve the skills of implementation and team work in order to prepare the students for working on other, bigger projects.
Overall, 55.7 million rubles were spent on this program in the 2019/20 academic year, with 17 projects supported. You can check out the stories of young scientists who have won here.
International research centers
Many gifted students from ITMO University join international scientific departments and centers that are funded thanks to the Russian Academic Excellence Project 5-100. This is a chance to accelerate your career growth by working on real tasks along with leading international scientists who are co-heads of the centers’ laboratories.
In order to join the team of an international scientific center or laboratory, you need to contact the head or the coordinator of a specific unit (you can find their contact info here). Moreover, Sergey Kolyubin also notes that ITMO University arranges academic events where you can meet researchers and find out what opportunities to work on particular research there are. One of such events is the ITMO Open Science conference.
Work in IT
Students who are more interested in the field of IT, data processing, and telecommunications can start their careers in the Department of IT Services, Information Security, and Access. There, students can work as technical support managers, programists, and engineers. According to Pavel Kuzmich, the head of the department, some students may even stay there after they graduate.
For students with expertise in Big Data processing, there is an opportunity to participate in the development of a system for educational analytics. By analyzing data on students’ grades, attendance, extracurricular activities, and research, the team plans to provide students with tips on which subjects they should pick and which activities they should take part in. Both Bachelor’s and Master’s students can join this project. In the future, they may also work on development of a system for individual educational tracks shaped depending on each student’s preferences.
“The minimum salary that team members get is 15 thousand rubles. It can reach up to 90 thousand rubles per month, depending on one’s level of expertise, tasks, and results. If a student has necessary skills and experience, they can work even in their first year of studies. The main thing is to have enough capacity for that,” says Polina Petrusha, advisor to First Vice Rector.
Employment for international students
International students, who have a harder time looking for a job outside the university, also have an opportunity to work at ITMO University. According to Maryam Reyhani, a specialist at the Internationalization Office, the Institute of International Development and Partnership offers opportunities for students to engage with various international activities. They can become journalists at the ITMO.NEWS English-language editorial office, content-managers, and graphic designers, as well as participate in arranging events and speaking clubs. Moreover, as ITMO University produces content in foreign languages such as English, Chinese, and Spanish, even students who speak languages other than English may also be employed.
Modern universities are bound to be open for cooperation with international partners and participation in exchange programs. That’s why ITMO University offers a lot of opportunities for academic exchange. One can participate in short- and long-term exchange.
Short-term exchange includes conferences, summer schools, and seminars. According to Ekaterina Tulugurova, the head of ITMO’s International Education Programs Department, 70% of the expenses related to short-term programs are covered by ITMO University, while the other 30% should be covered by other sources.
The contest for semester exchange takes place once every six months. Overall, each year 120 to 190 students of ITMO University participate in the exchange programs. Mostly they go to European countries, such as Finland, Germany, and France, however, students also study in Chile, South Korea, China, and other countries.
Scholarships and more
One of the most important factors for any modern student is undoubtedly the scholarship, as it allows them to focus entirely on their studies without needing to earn money on the side. Starting in the first year of Bachelor’s studies, many ITMO University students can expect a serious bonus to their regular academic stipend. A system of golden, silver, and bronze student IDs provides first-year students with exceptionally high Unified State Exam scores to receive sizable bonuses to their monthly stipend – 7, 10, and 15 thousand rubles, respectively. These payments continue throughout the first semester and, if one passes their winter exams with only good and excellent grades, until the end of their first year.
Master’s and PhD students can also receive stipends offered by various foundations, take part in grant competitions and R&D projects, work at laboratories, or teach others. Find out more below:
Opportunities for Bachelor’s and Master’s students
Sports and esports scholarships
Virtuosos of physical and virtual sports can, too, count on bonuses. Every year, first-year students can compete for one of 20 sports and 5 esports stipends of 10,000 rubles per month. Applicants must have a Unified State Exam score of at least 250 and be winners of regional or national competitions in any of the sports practiced at ITMO University, as well as athletic titles. This stipend is not cumulative with the bronze, silver, or golden stipends, but can also be extended into the second semester on the condition of passing the winter exams with good and excellent grades.
Stipends for Master’s students
First-year Master’s students can apply for the enhanced state academic scholarship, awarded for achievements in education, research, sports, and social or cultural activity. The competition takes place every September. Foreign and stateless citizens studying within the Russian Government quota are also eligible for the scholarship on the condition that they pass their exams with good and excellent grades. First- and second-year Master’s students can also apply for the Potanin Foundation Scholarship, which will provide them with 20,000 rubles per month.
In the summer, first-year Master’s students can apply for the Russian Presidential and Government Scholarship in fields of top priority for the modernization and technological development of Russian economy, as well as the St. Petersburg Government Scholarship.
First year is only the beginning
Even once the first year is over, you can still increase your monthly stipend. The enhanced scholarship is awarded for achievements in five fields of activity: social, research, educational, sports, and cultural/creative. The monthly stipend may amount to anywhere from 3,000 to 30,000 rubles.
Moreover, it is available not only to those who have already studied at ITMO University and did well on their exams. Students who have enrolled in a Master’s program at ITMO after graduating from another university may apply if they provide proof of their scientific, creative, and other accomplishments in the preceding academic year. Students can also apply for a number of special stipends for various groups based on field of study, age, and even their home region.