Muratova, Nurie (2018): The Beginnings of University Education for Women in the Russian Empire

Muratova, Nurie – The Beginnings of University Education for Women in the Russian Empire

Abstract: The author considers the beginning of the university education for women in the Russian Empire during the second half of the 19th century. Discussions about the access of women to university education are typical for most of the European countries in this period. After the establishment of large network of female high schools the road to university was paved. The paper analyzes the specific features of the Russian model of establishing the first Women’s University (Bestuzhev’s courses) in 1878. Its establishment is a result of a complicated interaction of many factors – the avoidance of serfdom in 1861, the appearance of liberal ideas, nihilist movement, feminist ideas and the growing social engagement of women. In Russia it is preceded by unsuccessful attempts of women to get access to the classical universities (mainly in medicine faculties) and the increased flow of women studding in Western universities (mainly in Zurich). From the end of the18th century the girls from the aristocratic circles were educated in Smolni Institute, and the girls from the middle class studded in professional schools. The first in Russia high female school for girls of different social classes opened in 1859 – Mariinskoe high school – and by that way the class inequality concerning the female high education came to an end. Nevertheless of the social changes following the avoidance of serfdom and the equal access to female high schools the universities continued to be inaccessible to women from all classes. The lack of access to universities provoked the appearance of the female universities whose number is 25 till the beginning of the 20th century. In 1868 a group of women sent a letter to the minister of education D. A. Tolstoy asking for opening of female university courses and received a negative answer. Ten years later on 20 September 1878 in Sankt Petersburg permanent university courses opened. They were initiated by group of women supported by male professors and had three departments – literature –historical, physics – mathematical and special mathematical. The aim of the paper is to follow the mechanism of establishing of the female university, to analyze the specific features of its functioning, and to present the main key figures.

(Full article in Bulgarian language)