Higher Education

, Volume 77, Issue 5, pp 777–797 | Cite as

The determinants of academic salaries in Russia

  • Ilya PrakhovEmail author


The system of higher education in Russia, as in many other countries, is in the midst of reforms related to the global trends of globalization and transformation to a knowledge economy. In order to successfully respond to these global challenges, it is necessary to improve the quality of the university sector and rethink the role of professors in enhancing academic productivity. A 20-year period of recession after the collapse of the Soviet Union has led to a diversification of universities and teachers and resulted in both a sharp fall in academic salaries and a decline in the attractiveness of the academic profession. Since the professoriate constitutes the main source of academic productivity, this article assesses the consequences of the decline in the academic sector before the start of major reforms of academic salaries. Using the data from the ‘The Changing Academic Profession’ project (CAP-Russia 2012 subsample), we identified and evaluated the activities of the professoriate that determine the income of university staff. The results show that, in general, the number of publications positively affected academic salaries, but for certain indicators of research activity, the effects are ambiguous. Administrative duties are important for academic salaries, with a positive effect ranging from 15 to 51%. Seniority also has a positive impact on a professor’s salary. The most consistent results in the pre-reform period were obtained for National research universities (NRUs), where academic salaries are determined by research activity (articles in academic journals) and administrative duties. Salaries rise with seniority, which corresponds to the human capital theory (as well as alternative theories). Salaries in NRUs also reflect gender equality. The results of the study can be used to assess the consequences of the recession in the academic sector in Russia and as a baseline for analyzing current reforms in universities.


Academic salary Academic salaries Academic contracts Teaching Research Administration 

JEL classification

I21 I23 J31 



I thank Ulrich Teichler and William Cummings for granting me access to the Changing Academic Profession database. I am also grateful to the participants of the 4th International Conference on Academic Profession in Knowledge Society (Seoul, 2016) and to my colleagues from Center for Institutional Studies Anna Panova and Maria Yudkevich for their valuable comments on the earlier version of the paper.


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Research Fellow, International Laboratory for Institutional Analysis of Economic Reforms, Center for Institutional StudiesNational Research University Higher School of EconomicsMoscowRussia

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