Semester exchange

More than 90 universities in 25 countries are ready to accept ITMO University students. 

To apply for a semester exchange, you need to choose three foreign universities from the list of ITMO University’s academic partners. You can go to other universities abroad under the short-term academic mobility program.

You can submit an application for the competition until September 20 through your ISU account. This year, in addition to the motivation letter and CV, you must attach a 2-3 minutes-long video resume in which you share something about yourself, your educational program, your work experience (if any), the three selected universities, the reasons why you want to go there, and how the semester exchange will help you in your studies and career. 

It is important to note that all documents and videos must be in English or the language in which your studies will take place during the semester exchange (Spanish, French, German, Chinese, etc.).

Credit: shutterstock.com
Credit: shutterstock.com

Here’s what students who want to study abroad should know:

  • all applications for a semester exchange are submitted six months before the intended trip – right now, applications are being accepted for the spring semester of 2021;
  • Bachelor’s students starting from their second year and Master’s students who have completed at least one semester at ITMO University are eligible to participate – but they should not have any academic backlog or exams that they have not yet taken;
  • the disciplines studied at the chosen university must necessarily correspond to the student's current specialization – discuss this with the head of your educational program or your thesis supervisor;
  • before applying, you must confirm your proficiency in English (or another foreign language in which you plan to study) at a level not lower than B2 (Upper-intermediate). Every week, the Foreign Language Training Center conducts free tests for which you can sign up here.

For senior students, there is another option: not to take the test, but to receive a certificate of completion of the English language course as part of their studies at ITMO University.

  • academic exchange participants are selected on a competitive basis: academic performance, knowledge of foreign languages, participation in conferences and competitions, as well as active participation in the university’s life (for example, membership in student clubs, volunteering at events) are all taken into account.

Next steps

Credit: shutterstock.com
Credit: shutterstock.com

Once you've received your language proficiency certificate, passed the selection, and been chosen for the exchange program, you must send an application to the host university and wait for a letter from the coordinator with further instructions.

After the receiving university confirms its readiness to accept you, you can start applying for your student visa, buying tickets, and booking accommodation. At this stage, it is extremely important to make sure that your bank card can be used abroad – for example, the MIR card, through which you receive your stipend or salary, does not work abroad. You will also need to do the paperwork at ITMO University and wait for an order assigning the student to a partner university – a student who leaves without it will be considered a truant.

You must inform the coordinators from the International Educational Programs Office upon your arrival in the country and the partner university – this can be done via ISU.

More details about these steps can be found on ITMO’s international website, Instagram, and in a VK group

Short-term academic mobility 

In addition to the semester exchange, there is a short-term academic mobility program that consists of trips to various events lasting up to one month. That includes all kinds of courses, summer and winter schools, as well as conferences, seminars, championships, and contests – both in Russia and abroad. In this program, there are no restrictions on the university selection – you can go to any university, even ones not on the list of academic partners.

Participation in schools and conferences is a great opportunity to work in an international team and become acquainted with a foreign university and its educational environment. Announcements of the beginning of enrollment in international and Russian schools are published in the ISU educational calendar. You can also consult with a professor or find a program on your own.

For short-term trips, you can receive co-financing from ITMO University – also on a competitive basis. There are a number of rules and restrictions:

  1. you can apply during the entire academic year, but no later than a month before the event;
  2. only tuition-free students can participate in the program;
  3. it is necessary to confirm proficiency in the working language of the event at level B2 and above;
  4. the program of the courses or winter/summer school must correspond to the content of your educational program at ITMO University;
  5. a trip to the conference is paid for only if you plan to deliver a report or presentation at a poster session;
  6. ITMO University can reimburse no more than 70% and no more than 70,000 rubles of the student’s expenses;
  7. no more than five people can apply for participation in the same event within the framework of the competition.

It is important to note that the requirements of the competition also apply to the participation in an online event with a registration fee or a paid online school.

More details can be found on the website of ITMO's international department.

Study Abroad at Home

ITMO University
ITMO University

For those who are not ready for a whole semester abroad, there is an opportunity to study up to three disciplines completely in English in a group with international ITMO students. There, you can test your language skills, boost academic English skills, and immerse yourself in an international environment. To sign up for the course, you need to submit an application with a motivation letter in English and pass an interview.

From three to six disciplines are offered each semester; this time they are Intercultural Communication, Project Management, and Innovation Systems: Russian Federation Development. Unfortunately, at the moment, there is no enrollment for these programs, but you can try to participate in the competition in the spring semester.

New application runs are announced via ISU and VK at the beginning of each semester; you can also learn more from Ekaterina Rassolenko.

Buddy System

ITMO University
ITMO University

Another way to improve your language skills is to enroll in the Buddy System club, which helps foreign students adapt to the new social and educational environment.

Each semester, about 50 foreign students come to ITMO University to study – from France, Germany, South Korea, Taiwan, Finland, Mexico, the Czech Republic, and other countries. All of them need help with paperwork, settling in a dormitory, and getting to know the city and the university. A personal "buddy", whose task is to make the stay of an international student as comfortable as possible and help in solving any problem, is attached to each of them.

Club members receive a whole set of bonuses at once: not only the opportunity to develop communication skills, improve their language skills, get to know the culture of other countries, and make friends around the world, but also receive priority status when applying for academic mobility competitions and additional points in the competition for an enhanced scholarship.

New members join the club through a competition held at the end of each semester in the form of an interview with a creative task. You can follow the club's events on its VK page.

Foreign Language Training Center

ITMO University
ITMO University

At the Foreign Language Training Center, you can study not only English, but also German, Swedish, Spanish, Italian, and French. Classes are held on a paid basis, but in some curricula for the second and third year of Bachelor's and first year of Master's programs, studying English in high-level groups (B2 and above), German, and Swedish are listed as electives – you can check this in ISU. For them, classes are free and are held as an additional discipline with a mandatory test at the end of the semester.

Also, the Center conducts weekly free testing for the level of English proficiency, for which you can sign up here. The testing takes place in a face-to-face format, lasts about three hours, and consists of four parts: reading, listening, interview, and essay. It is based on Academic IELTS – so you can prepare for the test using sample assignments of IELTS.

The online testing format for those who have chosen the distance learning format throughout the current semester will be available later. You can follow the updates on the center’s VK page.

There is also the ITMO English Speaking Club – it is available for students with any level of English and is absolutely free. The students meet at least once a week, talk about different topics, watch movies in English, play board games, and hold themed events. You can follow the meetings on the club’s VK page.

ITMO University
ITMO University

Academic Writing Lab

For those who have no experience in filling out applications in English and writing motivation letters, there is the Academic Writing Lab.

Its task is to help students in writing applications for conferences and grants, motivation letters, CVs in English, as well as scientific articles – following all the rules of English-language academic writing. It is important to point out that the Lab does no translations – the employees are, rather, consultants, and all the work is done by the students.

The Lab also conducts courses in academic grammar, academic writing, and presentation preparation every semester, as well as workshops on specialized topics such as business correspondence, presentation skills, and so on. All of them are free for ITMO University students and employees alike. You can follow the news and dates of workshops in ISU and sign up for them on the Lab's website.

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