The very foundation of Kazan University was directly linked to international academia. Some of the University's first teachers were German professors such as Johann Bartels, Franz Erdman and Christian Fren. The famous German professor Karl Fuchs, who was both the founder of Kazan Medical School and the first European researcher of Tatar history and culture, became the University's rector in the 1820s and was awarded the title of Honourable Citizen of Kazan. Since that time Kazan University has had one more rector with international background – professor Ivan Braun (1813-1819) from Austria.

Today the University continues enlarging its international dimensions and enhancing its globally renowned academic reputation.

KFU strives to attain globally recognised results within its priority areas through developing Centres of Excellence and world-class unique laboratories (open-labs); inviting world-known scholars and сollaborating with large companies and leading research and academic centres.

KFU has partner agreements with approximately 300 universities and research centres from more than 64 countries all over the world. Thanks to its fruitful cooperation with the long-term partners such as Justus-Liebig University of Giessen (Germany), the Superior Institute of Materials and Advance Mechanics (ISMANS, France), Research Institute RIKEN (Japan) and many others, KFU has taken advantage of participating in various research programmes and implementing “double” diploma initiatives and cotutelle agreements.

In 2017-2018 academic year about 5000 international students are studying in KFU on different academic programmes.

Each year more than 900 students and faculty members visit foreign universities and research centres for various purposes, including participation in international conferences. Every academic year the University invites near 1500 specialists with international experience, involving them in various scientific events, development and introduction of new courses, research collaboration and other international activity. Many native speaking specialists teach Chinese, Korean, Farsi, German, Spanish, English and other foreign languages on a regular basis at KFU.

Every year KFU teams carry out many joint international projects. Also its postgraduates, researchers and teachers get individual support from DAAD, DFG, Volkswagen Foundation, NSF, European Commission (Erasmus+, Erasmus Mundus, Marie-Curie Actions) and other grant making organizations. KFU academic community approves its international recognition by getting research support from national funding authorities of Belgium, France, Germany, Sweden, Japan, China, USA and other countries.