RECORD numbers of students have been admitted to Russian universities for the second year running, reversing a decade of decline.
Admissions to state and private universities are expected to exceed last year's historic 700,000, then the highest ever figure, by 4 per cent.
Russian universities last witnessed such a surge of interest in 1985, when more than 635,000 students were registered.
Applications have increased across the board, not only for popular disciplines such as law, economics and languages, but also in areas which have suffered in recent years, such as science and engineering.
Yuri Novikov, head of the education ministry's directorate of higher professional educational institutions, said the renewed interest reflected the changing demands of Russia's market economy.
"Young people understand that without an education you cannot do anything. When Russia embraced the free market four years ago many students left universities to work, but now they see that working in private business does not automatically bring results."
Most university courses are now two to six times over-subscribed, the ministry says, with some subjects such as languages even higher.
The rise in applications, particularly to universities in Moscow and St Petersburg, has been boosted by a return to the system of taking entrance exams to the student, rather than expecting applicants to undertake long, costly journeys to sit exams.
In addition, young men keen to avoid or defer military service were also attracted by student life.