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Monitoring the quality of enrollment in Russian universities

Priority areas of development: sociology
The project has been carried out as part of the HSE Program of Fundamental Studies.

The project analyzes the quality of enrollment in Russian universities using official lists of applicants admitted into their 1st year of studies, BA-level.

The lists are published at the universities’ websites and contain full information about students enrolled for state-funded and fee-paying places in higher educational institutions (HEIs), including which category of enrollment they fall into, majors they applied for and their Unified State Examination (USE) scores.

The quality of enrollment is analyzed across universities and fields of study, on the basis of average USE scores of the students enrolled.

Research task:

To explore methodological extensions of the model: limitations and capacities of applying average USE scores to evaluate the quality of enrollment in different universities, by HEI types (their regional status, participation in state programmes, areas of studies, etc.).


  • To provide next-year university applicants with analytical information, for them to make an informed choice about their chances to be admitted into certain educational programmes and about the presumed level of training of their peer-students.
  • To help HEIs evaluate their position as compared to their competitors (in terms of enrollment quality), both in general and by particular areas of studies. This in turn allows for adjustments in their enrollment plans, and also in the education policy at regional and federal levels.
  • To provide transparency and accountability of the enrollment procedures to prevent corruption in HEIs.

Methods: The monitoring is conducted annually since 2010 and uses data from open sources. Namely, relevant information is extracted from HEIs’ websites: fields of study the HEI enrolls into and the number of places offered for state-funded students; minimal USE scores set by HEIs to be admitted into each of their educational programmes; lists of USE subjects to be passed to be admitted into each educational programme; lists of those enrolled into various educational programmes, with their category (enrollment track) and USE scores. This information is gathered and structured according to the same rules for every HEI in the sample and makes an integrated database for 2010-2014.

Empirical data: enrollment data about 450 Russian universities. This covers all Russian HEI in every area of study, with the exception of vibrant arts, music, and military education which enroll according to different principles.

Main results: In 2014, for the first time since the start of this monitoring, calculated average USE scores of university enrollees were compared with average scores of school-leavers in the corresponding USE subjects. It allowed to evaluate how different is the level of training of HEI enrollees from the level of training of school-leavers, by subjects and by regions. This is a very important extension, taking into account the mass character of higher education in Russia.

On the basis of our calculations, we also proposed a classification of HEIs according to their enrollment quality. Eight groups were identified:

  1. Absolute leaders;
  2. Strong HEIs
  3. HEIs with better than average enrolment (upper intermediate)
  4. HEIs with average enrolment
  5. HEIs with lower than average enrolment (weak HEIs)
  6. HEIs with very low enrolment (very weak HEIs)
  7. HEIs with a disastrously low level of enrolment

On the basis of this multi-faceted analysis of the quality of enrollment, we identified regions with strong enrollment and weaker regions.

The best education is concentrated in Moscow and St Petersburg (which of course is not a new result), and the quality of enrollment is about the same in both cities. Besides them, there are 9 regions which demonstrate very good enrollment results: Voronezh Region, Krasnodar Krai, Nizhny Novgorod Region, Novosibirsk Region, Perm Krai, Republic of Tatarstan, Saratov Region, Sverdlovsk Region, Tomsk Region.

We also identified 6 regions with the lowest level of enrollment (the average level of students enrolled into state-funded places is below the level of school-leavers taking USE  tests in corresponding subjects): the Jewish Autonomous Region of Birobidjan, Kabardino-Balkaria, Kamchatka Krai, Republic of Adygea, Buryatia, Chechnya.


The results of the Monitoring will be useful for educational authorities and government bodies (the Russian Ministry of Science and Education, regional education ministries, and other policy-makers) to measure efficiency in HEIs. The results are also useful for heads of HEIs to see how their universities compare to their competitors and to develop a strategy for their enrollment campaign.


Savitskaya E. V., Altunina N. S. Higher Education: Reputation Effects, Signal Distortions, and Propitious Selection / Пер. с рус. // Russian Education and Society. 2017. Vol. 59. No. 1-2. P. 94-120. doi