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Minnesota West is Hoping to Enroll Students from Russia


Ric Shrubb, President of Minnesota West Community & Technical College, went to Russia this past spring hoping to attract new students to the system’s technical programs. Shrubb applied for a Fulbright Scholar grant based on his experience with Russian Ag Exports, a family-owned business in Slayton that sends heavy farm equipment to rural Russia.

“I wanted to see if we could recruit students from Russia, and participate in disassembly and reassembly of this ag equipment,” Shrubb said. “The Russian rural farm market isn’t big enough to sustain a major supplier of industrial machinery. John Deere’s not going to go and set up a dealership. But a family-owned business can send pieces of equipment like this.”

In Russia, the university system focuses on arts and the sciences, and technical education stops at the high school level, Shrubb said. There is nothing like the two-year programs available through Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system, of which Minnesota West is a part.

During his two-week trip in Moscow and the Russian region of Tatarstan, Shrubb met hundreds of students and said the overall feeling toward studying abroad was positive.

“They’re not allowed to show much affection for another country because they still have a dictatorship in Russia, so they had to be careful about talking about their enthusiasm. They’re very interested in studying in the United States,” he said.

Other MnSCU campuses have enrolled Russian students, but so far Minnesota West has not. Shrubb thinks there could be a great demand for the ag-based programs in Worthington, as well as Jackson’s powerline program.  

Though Shrubb’s trip has not yet yielded any Russian enrollments, he said it was an important step.

“I met quite a lot of people I’m staying in touch with to serve as contacts for bringing students to America to study at Minnesota West,” Shrubb said. “The thing that’s holding us back right now is a lack of housing … because people can’t come from another country if there’s no place to live. We’re looking for funding for a dorm in Worthington.”

Marie Zimmerman, Staff Writer
Jackson County Pilot