Between 10 and 15 per cent more students enrolled for higher education in Russia this academic year compared with the previous year, reversing a decline which started in 1991.
An analysis of enrolment figures by Russia's State Committee for Higher Education has shown that on average there were about 206 applicants for every 100 places this year.
Eight per cent more students enrolled at higher education institutions in Moscow, 7-8 per cent more in the Urals and Siberia, and 17 per cent more in Russia's western Kaliningrad region.
More students are opting for the traditional engineers' degree, deemed unprestigious and inadequate in the past few years as market forces created a demand for business managers, lawyers and a new breed of economists.
Nine per cent more opted for courses connected with the machine tool making industry.
Vasily Zhurakovsky, deputy chairman of the State Committee for Higher Education, attributed the changes to a revival in the prestige of higher education, as demand for specialists, such as engineers, revives.
"Many students now understand properly why they are going to a higher education institution - not just for a crust of bread but to acquire a language, computer and management skills," he told the Russian education weekly Search.
Education officials are using this year's figures to counter arguments by some deputies in parliament who want to see a reduction in the number of colleges and universities in Russia. The enrolment trends are also regarded as proof by some education officials that more regional higher education institutes need to be up-graded to universities.