Plans to scrap university entrance exams as part of a fundamental reform of the Russian education system are to be announced in Moscow next week.
The 42 billion rouble (£1 billion) reforms will inaugurate a national system of state-sponsored school-leaving exams and introduce greater curricular choice for students over the next four years.
There are fears that the reforms will undermine the prestige of Russia's universities. Viktor Sadovichny, rector of Moscow State University, has criticised the draft reforms despite concessions to allow top institutions to retain some form of selection.
He is against common school-leaving and university entrance exams because he believes standardised tests may not allow the best students to demonstrate their grasp of specialised subjects.
Supporters of the plans say they will reduce corruption in the university sector, while greater curricular choice will allow for better preparation for higher education.
Critics argue that a move away from the current rigid system, which demands that all students pursue maths and sciences as well as the arts and humanities, could weaken Russia's traditional dominance in technical subjects.
Education expert Peter Polozhevets, editor-in-chief of the Teachers Gazette , said: "Scrapping entrance exams is controversial but the ten or 20 so-called elite institutions will still demand something else from students besides the results of their school-leaving exams."