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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Lessons Abroad Apply Back Home

The British Council is willing to help gifted Russian students get scholarships at top British schools - but only if they are willing to bring their newly acquired knowledge and skills back to Russia.

Last week, the British Council welcomed back last year's winners of the Chevening Awards, training scholarships for study abroad. The young Russians had spent three to 12 months at British schools of their choice.

"The main thing for us is to support people who would be interested in reforms and democracy here," Tony Longrigg, deputy head of mission at the British Embassy, told the award winners. "We hope that what you've learned in England will serve you to help Russia to develop a strong market economy and a democratic society."

Run jointly by the British Embassy and the British Council, the Chevening awards have been operating in Russia since 1991. The scholarships are granted for advanced studies in international relations, media, management, economics andseveral other fields, said Patricia O'Donnell, spokeswoman for the embassy.

Last year, 20 Chevening award winners were chosen among 400 applicants. Students must be in their final year of study or recent graduates under the age of 35. They take a rigorous English test and submit an essay explaining why they want to take a particular course at a British university. British Council officials say only those students who demonstrate the strongest desire to come back to Russia and apply their skills here can win the award.

"The main task of the contest is to identify the future leaders or opinion-makers, who could be able to influence life in Russia in the future," said the British Council's Katya Kapralova.

Kapralova said that even in today's shrinking labor market, returning Chevening students can count on attractive employment proposals.

"There are not many people with such an education even on the Moscow labor market," she said.

Last year's winners seem to bear out Kapralova's words. All 20 of them have found jobs in Russia despite the financial crisis and rising unemployment.

Yaroslav Lissovolik, 25, came back from Britain in June, where he had studied for a year at the London School of Economics.

"I've learned a lot and I think I had some advantages here in Moscow when looking for a new job," said Lissovolik, who is now working as a consultant at the Bureau of Economic Analysis, a research group that advises the Russian government.

Before going to LSE, the Moscow native graduated from Harvard University, where he spent two years on an exchange program with the Moscow Institute of Foreign Relations. Not all Chevening scholars have backgrounds like Lissovolik's. O'Donnell said the British Council promotes the program in the regions, too.

Natalya Pestereva, 24, who studied law at Rostov University in southern Russia, now works for the British law firm Freshfields in Moscow after spending a year at Cambridge University.

"Our reasons are not just to support individual people, but to support the younger generation, which is extremely important for Russia now, when it is getting through the quite difficult problems," Longrigg said after congratulating the graduates.

For those interested in learning more about these and other programs, the British Council maintains a web site at