The development of higher education systems around the world is associated with an increase in the number of students, which has almost doubled over the past 30 years. The growth of student contingents has led to a reformatting of university networks. The question of the formation of a network of universities and their influence on spatial development, as well as the problem of the impact of economic development in certain territories on the need for the development of higher educational institutions is an urgent research problem. The main goal of this work is to assess the effectiveness of the spatial development of the higher education system, taking into account the effects that its different levels have on the processes of socio-economic development of Russian regions. The objective of this work is to analyze the existing networks of state universities in Russian regions. Research methods include analysis of statistical data and socio-economic information, economic and mathematical analysis and modeling. The main results of the research: the changes that took place in the network of state (municipal) universities in Russia in the 1990/91–2018/19 academic years are considered; the factors that caused the changes, as well as the consequences for the socio-economic development of the constituent entities of the Russian Federation, where the higher educational institutions are located, have been analyzed; the availability of higher education for the population and the economic sustainability of networks of state (municipal) universities in federal districts and various regions of Russia have been analyzed. The obtained results can be used in the interests of public authorities in the field of education for the development of a state policy of spatial development of the higher education system; assessing the consequences of the restructuring of networks of universities and branches of universities on the socio-economic development of Russian regions; assessing the directions of development of higher education in the regions of the Russian Federation.
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