Education in Russia - statistics & facts

The main levels of the Russian education system are preschool, general, vocational, higher, and further education. More than 4.3 trillion Russian rubles were expended by the government on that sector in 2020, which accounted for four percent of the country's gross domestic product. During the COVID-19 pandemic, educational establishments switched to remote learning and used online platforms to organize courses and collect assignments. In 2022, Russia stopped participating in the Bologna Process, an international education system harmonizing higher education requirements, which it adopted in 2003.

General education in Russia

Russian children commonly start school at the age of six or seven and study for 11 years, of which the first four are known as primary, the next five as basic general, and the last two as general secondary education. Compared to countries where these three levels are studied at different locations, schoolchildren in Russia often attend the same institution for the whole period of study. After completing the ninth grade, students can finish school and enter a college, a vocational education institution, such as technical, nursing, or culinary school. The other option is to stay in school for two more years and apply to university, after passing the Unified State Exam. In total, over 16.7 million students were enrolled in public schools across the country in 2020. In the global PISA ranking from 2018, Russian 15-year-old students received 488 points in mathematics, which was only one point below the OECD average score.

Higher education in Russia

As of July 2021, nearly 1.1 thousand universities operated in Russia, which was the eighth highest number worldwide. In general, Russian universities offered bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees. However, instead of the first two, students could obtain a five- or six-year-long specialist degree, which was recognized only in Russia and some other CIS countries. Most university programs had limited state-funded study places for students with the highest exam results, and the rest were paid places. Furthermore, nearly 42 percent of bachelor students received a monthly stipend from the state.

The popularity of higher education saw a decline after its peak in the 2000s. Around four million students were enrolled in Russian universities in 2020, compared to over seven million in 2010. The reasons behind that trend could be either the discouragement that a diploma would not help to find employment, opting for a college in fear of failing state exams, or the lack of finances to cover living costs in large cities, where universities were most often located. At the same time, Russia was the sixth most popular study abroad destination, having hosted over 353.3 thousand international university students in 2020.


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