The Russian Education System

The Russian education system consists, in general terms, of the following areas:

  • General School Education
  • Vocational Education
  • University Education (Higher Education)
  • Postgraduate Education

Both the school year and academic semester start on the same day in Russia, on September 1.

General School Education in Russia

General school education in Russia consists of Primary School, Secondary School and Upper Secondary School. Education in primary schools starts at the age of six or seven and generally lasts four years. After completing primary school, children continue their general education in secondary schools, lasting five years. School children have a choice after finishing secondary school: they can either continue their education in upper secondary schools or start a vocational course in a vocational school or in a technical college. The upper secondary school lasts for two years and ends with a standardised state examination (comparable to the German Abitur or the English A-Level). These examinations test skills which children have acquired in particular subjects. Mathematics and Russian are compulsory subjects. The choice of subjects depends on what  subject(s) the student wishes to pursue at university or on a vocational training programme. The standardised state examination doubles up as the university entrance examination.

Vocational Education

Vocational education in Russia consists of a basic and secondary level. The basic level of vocational education occurs in vocational schools and so-named vocational lyceums. These institutions train people who wish to become skilled workers. The secondary level of vocational education occurs in vocational schools or vocational colleges and leads to a qualification in one of a number of specialist areas. Students can commence vocational training after years nine or ten of their general education. Students choosing to commence their vocational training in year nine also have lessons in the general subjects, giving them an opportunity to take the standardised state examination and to go on to study at university.

University Education (Higher Education)

The Russian Higher Education sector is diverse. Besides the traditional universities, there are also polytechnics, pedagogical, medical, agricultural and economic universities and academies. Acceptance at a university occurs after the standardised state examination. Entrance examinations that used to be taken by prospective university students have since been abolished and have been replaced by the standardised state examination. Some universities in Russia are free of charge, whilst others operate on a commercial basis. Students who take a second university degree are, however, generally required to pay. During their academic studies, students are exempt from compulsory military service.

Economic Education in General Secondary Schooling

Economics did not feature in earlier curricula in Russia. The transformation of Russia’s economy increased demand for knowledge about the economy not just in the university system, but also at secondary school level. From 1991, Economics has been on the country’s national curriculum. Given that there were, however, no set nationwide educational standards and no legal requirements for the number of hours to be taught, schools simply offered Economics as an optional subject. In March 2004, new educational standards in general secondary schooling for Economics were introduced. Economics was incorporated into the subject of Social Studies in secondary schools and was offered as an independent subject (basic and intermediate level) in upper secondary schools.

As a part of the modernisation of the Russian education system, the state educational standards for the “new generation” were initiated – for primary schools in 2009 and for secondary schools in 2010. Children in secondary schools are to be taught basic business skills within the compulsory subject of Social Studies in both years eight and nine. The state educational standards for the upper secondary tier of schooling are still under discussion. The current working proposal of the standards foresees the introduction of Economics up to intermediate level in upper secondary schools across Russia.