Michael C. Kimmage, a former State Department policy official specializing in U.S.-Russian relations, said the Bard action sent a chilling message to academics.
“I can’t imagine any responsible administrator at an American college or exchange program who wouldn’t take this seriously and be worried,” said Dr. Kimmage, now a professor at the Catholic University of America in Washington.
Russia has made several moves that diminish educational exchanges between the two countries, even as it attempts to build educational partnerships elsewhere and improve the quality of its domestic public universities.
In 2014, the Russian government withdrew from the Future Leaders Exchange program, a State Department-funded effort to promote U.S. study by foreign high school students, after a Russian teenager studying in Michigan sought political asylum. More recently, reduced services at consulates have made it more difficult for Russian students to obtain visas for studying in the United States.
Suspicion in the United States has also been heightened. In 2019, a program at American University in Washington was criticized as too soft on Russia, and the Russian ambassador, Anatoly Antonov, accused the U.S. news media of Russophobia, while also calling for increased cultural exchange between the countries.
Several American universities created programs in Russia after the collapse of the Soviet Union, but in recent years, some of them have closed. In 2018, Stanford University announced it was suspending its undergraduate Russian study abroad programs, citing security issues. That same year, Clark University in Worcester, Mass., began phasing out its program at Astrakhan State University, in Astrakhan, Russia, citing costs and the difficulty of managing its program from the United States as reasons.
The decline may be largely symbolic, a gauge of deteriorating relations between the countries. Russia has never been a major partner in international study programs with the United States, ranking low on the list of countries whose students come to the United States. And according to the Institute of International Education, the number of Americans studying abroad in Russia declined to 1,305 in 2019, the last year data is available, from 1,827 in 2011.