Higher education in Vologda is provided by public and private schools. The system of higher and secondary education in Russia is going through a transitional period. The main objectives of the reforms are: to decentralize the higher education system, to develop a new financial mechanism, to give more academic freedom to faculties and students. All secondary schools, institutes and universities until recently have been funded by the state. Now some universities have fee-paying departments. There are four universities and some branches of Moscow and St. Petersburg schools:
- Vologda State University
- Vologda State Agricultural Academy
- Vologda Institute of Law and Economics
- Vologda Business Institute
- Moscow State Law Academy (branch in Vologda)
- St. Petersburg State University of Engineering and Economics (branch in Vologda)
- North-West Academy of Public Service (branch in Vologda)
- University of Russian Educational Academy (branch in Cherepovets)
- University of International Law and Economics named after A. Griboedov (branch in Vologda)
- Modern Humanitarian Academy (branch in Vologda)
- Moscow University of Business and Modern Technologies (branch in Vologda)
Selecting an institution is a challenging task. Although so much variety can be bewildering, it has a positive side as well. With so many institutions to choose from, it is almost always possible to find one or more institutions that meet your academic needs and offer an environment in which you will be comfortable. Universities admit applicants who have a high school diploma and ask that an applicant take examinations. Very often universities and institutes may request a personal interview.
Admission to institutes and universities is very competitive. High level of competition for a limited number of spaces does not decrease the number of students willing to get a university degree. University study lasts five years.
University students have the opportunity to get involved in many social and extra-curricular activities throughout the academic year. Most of these initiatives are based on student interest and specific request. Following upon this various clubs are formed, e.g. movie club, special interest clubs. In other cases, students participate in numerous activities organized by their department or by their faculty. Most educational establishments provide a wide range of sports facilities either free or for a very low price. Students can choose from aerobics, basketball, weight lifting, volleyball and cross country skiing, to name a few.
Most students use university libraries which provide them with periodicals, maps, reading rooms and a collection of scientific literature. New materials are constantly acquired, particularly within the disciplines of academic departments and programmes. Technical and vocational schools, universities usually provide housing for students of another city.
The student council is the primary student government body. Members are elected at the beginning of each academic year and represent the student body on numerous university committees.
At the graduate level, students may enter into post-graduate courses to upgrade their professional skills. They lead after a minimum of three years to a candidate degree. After earning a doctorate, some students pursue further research under a postdoctoral fellowship. Continuing education has become increasingly important in Russian education in recent years.