Founded as a teacher training college in 1876, Belgorod State National Research University is certainly not exaggerating when its website refers to a "difficult but interesting history".
The university from the Russian city closest to the border with the Ukraine underwent five changes of name between 1919 and 1939, experienced more or less complete destruction during the German invasion and occupation in the Second World War and was then evacuated, only returning to Belgorod in 1957.
Modern, and in particular post-Soviet, times have been rather more propitious. It was one of 15 institutions chosen from among 128 applicants for the status of National Research University in 2010, opening up substantial additional state funding. In 2012 it was ranked 30th by the government among Russia’s 103 state universities and 500 branches.
It remains spread across a number of campuses, with some notable disciplinary strengths such as metallurgy, nano-technology and nano-materials research while it hosts a regional centre for microbiology. It has also taken on a strongly international quality, ranked seventh by the Russian Ministry of Education and Science for the recruitment of full-time overseas students, who make up around one in eighth of the student body. At the last count 84 different countries were represented, reflecting more than 160 international co-operation agreements, as well as all 85 regions of Russia.
Students are able to take part in some unusual sports, with five physical education students and alumni coming second in the All-Russia Arm Wrestling Cup in 2018.