According to the European University Institute's Academic Careers Observatory, in 2005 Russia had over a million degree-granting institutions:

In 2005, Russia had 1,196,350 universities and higher education establishments that are authorised to offer undergraduate, postgraduate and doctorate degrees. Some of these establishments are private. See http://www.kref.ru/vyzrf_m.shtml

This number seems absurdly high. In 2005, the population of Russia was 143,518,816, which would mean that there was one university or other degree-granting institution for every 120 residents.

Is the figure quoted by the EUI an error, or is there some meaningful way of interpreting it as-is? (For example, does it perhaps include all the individual degree programs of all university departments? Does it include a large number of private diploma mills that were operated by a tiny number of scammers?)

The site referenced by the EUI is in Russian, which I don't speak, so it's hard for me to find the supporting evidence there, let alone to assess its reliability.

  • Looks like a typo, as the cited list doesn't appear to have that many entries. Someone could probably count them up, but I dunno if what appears to basically be a typo would constitute a notable claim. This is, is there any evidence that anyone believes that the typo'd entry is correct, or alternatively that it wasn't a typo? – Nat Dec 8 '17 at 22:58
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    This number is so absurdly high that I doubt anyone believes it is true. I can't find any examples of people repeating the claim. Have we got any evidence that this is widely-believed and not just an ignored typo? – Oddthinking Dec 9 '17 at 1:02
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    The table that the claimant cites, http://www.kref.ru/vyzrf_m.shtml, is literally just a database of institutions, and presumably they're just reporting the number of entries in it. Some of the links for subsections of it are broken, but the total sum appears to be much closer to 1,000 than 1,000,000. The citation looks lazy and hastily given (e.g., the _m suffix in the link is for the subset of entries that start with an "M"), so presumably they just typo'd it. Perhaps they counted 1,196 at first, but then missed something, and meant to change it to 1,350. – Nat Dec 9 '17 at 4:34
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    For a specific number though, http://www.kref.ru/vyzrf_m.shtml lists 167 institutions that start with "M" (10-per-page on the first 16 pages of entries, then 7 more on the last page). To get the total number, someone'd have to add up the entries for institutions that start with other letters, though some of those links are broken, at least when viewed through Google Translate. – Nat Dec 9 '17 at 4:44
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    Per the Webometrics website, and as of January 2014, there are 22,123 universities in the world. answers.com/Q/How_many_universities_are_there_in_the_world not the best reference but no matter how you look at it, even with illegal institutions (not recognized) i doubt there will be more than 200000 worldwide – Lynob Dec 9 '17 at 23:26

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