Russia has a free education system guaranteed to all citizens by the Constitution, however an entry to subsidized post-secondary education is highly competitive. As a result of great emphasis on science and technology in education, Russian medical, mathematical, scientific, and aerospace research is generally of a high order.
Since 1990 the 11-year school training has been introduced. Education in state-owned secondary schools is free; first tertiary (university level) education is free with reservations: a substantial share of students is enrolled for full pay (many state institutions started to open commercial positions in the last years).
In 2004 state spending for education amounted to 3.6% of GDP, or 13% of consolidated state budget. The Government allocates funding to pay the tuition fees within an established quota or number of students for each state institution. In the higher education institutions, students are paid a small stipend and provided with free housing.
The oldest and largest Russian universities are Moscow State University and Saint Petersburg State University. In 2000s, in order to create higher education and research institutions of comparable scale in the Russian regions, the government launched the program of establishing the federal universities, mostly by merging the existing large regional universities and research institutes and providing them with a special funding. These new institutions include Southern Federal University, Siberian Federal University, Kazan Volga Federal University, North-Eastern Federal University and Far Eastern Federal University.