Planning to study in Belarus, but don’t know where to start? We collected the answers to some of the mind-boggling questions about higher education in Belarus for foreign students.
Who comes to study in Belarus? More than 23,000 foreign students arrive in Belarus each year, the majority coming from CIS countries, as well as Asian and African regions.
What is it good for? In 2015 Belarus officially joined the Bologna Process – a mechanism promoting cooperation between 48 European countries in the field of higher education. Belarusian universities participate in a wide range of student exchange programs, such as Erasmus Mundus, BASERCAN+, IAESTE, and more. Many courses are provided by visiting professors, experts in their fields.
I don’t know which university will better suit my goal. What should I do? Visit university open days, held annually in March. There you can talk to staff and current students, as well as discover what your future could be like. You can use open days as a way to compare universities and courses. Contact your school’s representatives to learn the exact dates and arrange your trip.
How expensive are the academic programs in Belarusian universities? Prices vary depending on the field of study. If you are set on getting a medical career, expect the annual fees between €3,800-€5,200* ($4,200-$5,700, source: BSMU). Tuition fees at BSU range from €900* ($1,000) at the department of theology to €3,850* ($4,250) at the department of international relations.
Are foreign students allowed to work? According to Belarusian law, foreign students are not allowed to work – student visa expressly prohibits employment.
When is the best time to apply? The admission period for foreign applicants lasts from 30 June to 15 October.
How much does it cost? Application and official study invitation from the BSU will cost you around €40* ($45).
How do I receive an official study invitation? In order to receive an official invitation letter, submit the following documents to your chosen university:
– copy of your diploma with the list of disciplines and credits;
– copy of your passport or other personal identity documents;
– study application, containing your passport information, home address, phone, email;
– medical certificate issued in your home country, including a negative HIV test (not older than 6 months).
Their notarized translations in Russian or Belarusian must accompany all foreign-language documents.
Do I need more documents prepared upon arrival? Yes. For instance, if you are enrolling in BSU, you should present the dean with the following:
– notarized passport copy;
– original diploma with the list of disciplines and credits, along with its notarized translation in Russian;
– medical certificate with a notarized translation in Russian;
– medical insurance from “Belgosstrah” or “Beleksimgarant” valid for the whole period of study;
– 4 photos (3×4 cm);
– receipt of payment for registration at “Belarusbank”.
Procedures at different universities may differ just slightly.
What exams do I need to take? Foreign applicants are enrolled according to the results of their face-to-face interview, held in the language of training. The interview is available for fee-based programs only.
How can I get my visa? There are two ways, depending on whether your country has a Belarusian diplomatic mission: you can apply for visa before the trip or receive it on arrival.
To apply for visa, submit these documents to the Belarusian embassy in your country:
– completed visa questionnaire;
– official study invitation;
– 1 passport photo;
– passport (valid for at least 90 days after the visa expiration date).
Successful applications will be processed within 5 working days. Visa fee is €60*.
Residents of the countries with no Belarusian diplomatic missions can receive a visa on arrival. If you are eligible, contact the consular office of Minsk National Airport no later than 5 business days before the planned arrival. Supply them with these documents:
– scanned passport pages with personal data;
– filled application form;
– 1 passport photo (on arrival).
Visa fee is €90*. Prepare to pay for the health insurance at €1* per day of stay.
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Normally your university representative will be there to help you with arising issues. As a result, you get a two-month single entry visa – enough time to navigate through unavoidable bureaucracy (and there will be a lot of it).
Do I need registration? As of 2019, every foreign traveler staying in the country longer than 5 days has to undergo the registration process. However, living in a dormitory, hostel, or hotel, you will be registered automatically. If you rent an Airbnb or another kind of individual accommodation, you can register online using our step-by-step guide.
How do I obtain a temporary residence permit? Your university helps you to get a temporary residence permit. Because it’s valid for just one year, it should be extended with each study year until you graduate. The service fee is approximately €36* ($40).
Why do I need an exit-entry visa? If you live under temporary residence permit and don’t have resident status, to leave and re-enter Belarus you will need an exit-entry visa. You can get a single or double-entry visa for three months, or a multiple-entry visa for 1 year. The duration of the exit-entry visa cannot surpass that of your temporary residence permit.
Provide these documents to the Department of Citizenship and Migration at the place of your registration:
– filled application form;
– a note from your university.
Average processing time is 10 days. The service fee is €30* for single and double, €60* for multiple exit-entry visas.
Arrival and settling down
What forms of accommodation are available for foreign students? You can choose between a dormitory, shared apartment, or hostel. If you are tight on budget, the dorm is your best option. Having chosen it, however, forget about privacy: the majority of rooms are shared between 3 to 4 people. Living quarters are split into blocks of two rooms, with a communal kitchen and a bathroom. Only official university representative can allocate places in the dorms. A dormitory is not covered by the tuition fee: students pay a monthly fee of €36* ($40) or more.
The hostel is a better version of a student dormitory, at a higher price. There is no shortage of good hostels in Minsk, available for a short and extended stay. Permanent tenants can receive an individual discount. During the low season (autumn to late spring) it is possible to get a higher discount.
However, living in a hostel over a prolonged period of time may put a strain on a person, forcing them to cancel their stay, notes a receptionist at Trinity hostel. Average prices for beds in eight- and ten-bed dorms are €6-10*. Double and twin rooms will cost you an average of €24* per person.
Renting an apartment might be pricey, but it will spare you the headache of unwanted intrusion, as in the case of the first two options. You can find your apartment deal online or through a real estate agent. The best resources to facilitate your search are onliner.by, neagent.by, domovita.by, hata.by. Monthly rent for a one-room apartment is €135-270* ($150-300); two rooms will cost you €400* ($450) and more.
What amenities are available in a dormitory? Dorm rooms typically have a bed, a chair, a writing table, a built-in wardrobe and bookshelves. You can expect access to gyms, recreational rooms, canteens and libraries.
What are the restrictions of dorm life? Apart from keeping their rooms clean and respecting the roommates, students must refrain from smoking and drinking alcohol in the living quarters and communal spaces. When going out, be sure to return before midnight. No visitors are allowed past 11:00 PM and during holidays. The students are expected to notify the dorm supervisor of the possible absence.
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What if I want to party in my dorm room? If you don’t comply with the rules, you may face harsh punishment and even expulsion. If the limitations of dormitory life seem too nauseating, consider renting an apartment.
What should I bear in mind when looking for an apartment? It is typical in Belarus to sign a lease for at least 1 year, with a possible extension. A pre-lease deposit, along with the first month’s rent should be paid in advance. We recommend you to pay attention to the following:
– Sign the contract with the agency. In the event of a dispute, it will protect your rights and legitimate interests;
– Do not make a 100% prepayment for the agency’s services: it will partially protect you in case of conflict;
– If you pay the agent on site, ask for the cash receipt;
– Don’t forget to specify if the utilities are included in the rent – they usually are;
– To avoid being fooled, ask a Russian-speaking friend for help. It is not uncommon for foreigners to be charged at higher rates than locals.
Can I get a scholarship to study at a Belarusian university? Yes! Starting in 2019, government-funded scholarships are provided annually to 100 foreign students.
How can I apply? Collect the required documents and send them to the address in the scholarships section of the Belarusian embassy in your country. The annual submission due date is February 20. You will need:
– filled application;
– copy of your diploma with the list of disciplines and credits;
– language certificate(s);
– medical certificate;
– recommendation letter(s).
What are the requirements? You need a GPA of at least 7.5. Those applying for fine art degrees will have to take a corresponding exam. Prospective candidates will be invited for an interview.
Don’t give up and “Jia you!”, or “add oil”, as the Chinese say. Our staff blesses you in your future endeavours.
*As of September 2019
Text by Alesia Ivankova