Russia steps up number of state-funded university places

In a move aimed at better meeting the demands of the Russian national economy for skilled workers amid the constraints of unprecedented Western sanctions, the number of state-funded university places is being raised by at least 30% during 2022 and 2023.

For this purpose, a new federal law which creates additional state-funded places for masters programmes in Russian universities was signed by President Vladimir Putin on 30 May.

In accordance with the law, the first additional 30,000 state-funded masters programme places will be available from September. The distribution of the places among Russian universities will be completed by 15 June, with a particular focus on programmes that have priority in the Russian economy.

Among these are engineering and IT specialties, genetics, history, oriental studies and others.

The distribution of additional places among universities will be subject to the approval of the Russian State Commission for Scientific and Technological Development.

Earlier, Russian Minister of Science and Higher Education Valery Falkov confirmed that the number of state-funded places in domestic universities this year would be the highest in the modern history of the country.

Falkov said: “This year Russian universities have an unprecedented number of state-funded places – 588,000, which is 11,561 places more than last year.

“The biggest growth is observed in case of engineering, pedagogical and medical specialties. There are plans to further increase the number of state-funded places this year that will provide additional opportunities … for bachelor [degrees].”

According to the state press service, the new law is aimed at ensuring additional protection of the Russian economy from the negative impact of sanctions and is part of current reforms of the Russian system of higher education, which began with the recent decision by Russia to withdraw from the Bologna Process.

Attracting Russians from the West

In addition to the approved 30,000 state-funded places, the government will create special places for citizens who studied abroad at Western universities.

According to some Russian analysts, the new legislation will allow the Russian government to create conditions conducive to the return of some of its citizens from the West, who are expected to be offered very favourable terms for studying in leading domestic universities, with high-value scholarships and affordable, and even free, housing.

The number of places to be offered to this category of people has not been disclosed and, according to some analysts, may vary between 10,000 and 20,000 depending on the demand.

The return of students from top Western universities to Russia is among a set of countermeasures implemented by the Russian state to deal with the ever-growing migration of skilled young people from the country.

Part of these plans is the creation of a single educational platform on which employers will be able to place notices for attracting job applicants. Based on these requests from employers, the number of state-funded places for targeted training will be calculated.

Universities confirm rising state-funded places

In the meantime, representatives of leading Russian universities have confirmed that the number of their state-funded places is steadily growing.

An official spokesman of the National Research University Higher School of Economics (HSE), one of Russia’s most prestigious universities in the field of economics, said in an exclusive interview with University World News that the number of state-funded places at the university remains at a consistently high level.

“In 2022, 3,803 state-funded places were created for admission to undergraduate and specialist programmes, compared with 3,647 in 2021 and 3,466 in 2020.

“In 2023, the number of state-funded places will remain at the level of the current year.”

Maksim Rumyantsev, head of the Siberian Federal University (SibFU), one of the most prestigious Russian universities outside Moscow, also confirmed in an interview that the number of state-funded places in the university was increasing.

Rumyantsev told University World News: “For the 2023-24 academic year, the university has received more than 6,000 state-funded places for such levels of education as bachelor, specialist, masters and postgraduate studies.

“The largest number of places is traditionally provided in the engineering and technical fields.”

He said after setting the admission targets, the university independently decides on the distribution of state-funded places in specific areas, taking into account the demand for specialties, the number of educational programmes and applications from the university’s corporate partners.

“In 2022, at SibFU, 60% of state-funded places were in engineering and technical areas and specialties, and 10% were in natural sciences.”


Andrew Boggs on the University World News Facebook page: One can’t help but wonder (a) is this why so many rectors of Russian universities refused to condemn the attack on Ukraine (or even acknowledge the nature and brutality of the attack), and (b) the purpose and content of the newly funded history and oriental studies roles?