Irkutsk State University was founded almost 100 years ago, and it gave the impulse toward the development of higher education system in Siberia and Russian Far East. Irkutsk State University became the major educational, scientific and cultural center on the vast territory of Eastern Siberia at once. At first there were only two faculties - the Faculty of History and Philology and the Law Faculty, and 600 students enrolled.
Nowadays Irkutsk State University is a large scientific and educational institution training students in humanities, natural, technical and applied sciences. ISU facilities include 6 institutes, 10 faculties, 1 branch in Bratsk, the education center in Angarsk, and 10 stations.
Among other facilities there should be named three research institutes (the Research Institute of Applied Physics, Research Institute of Biology and Research Institute of Oil and Coal Chemical Synthesis), the Center for Advanced Information Technologies, the Astronomical observatory, the Botanic garden, the Scientific library that is one of the largest University libraries in Russia, the Center for Social Innovations, and seven Dissertation councils. Five ISU academic journals are included into the special list approved by the State commission for academic degree and titles.
ISU offers bachelor, master, post-graduate programs for more than 13 000 students that have opportunity to specialize under the supervision of world-known scientists. The academic staff consists of 850 lecturers, including 160 Doctors of Sciences and 450 Candidates of Science.
For decades, Irkutsk University has trained more than 100 thousand highly qualified specialists, among them 1 079 citizens of Mongolia, China, African and Arab countries. At present, there are more 300 international students from 27 countries.
Irkutsk State University has been the only higher education institution of Irkutsk region to be listed in “The University Rankings: Emerging Europe and Central Asia 2015” published by the British consulting agency Quacquarelli Symonds (QS). In 2014 ISU was ranked among the 200-top universities of BRICS countries, in 2015 ISU has managed to improve its positions in this ranking. In July 2015 ISU was placed 22nd among Russian Universities in the Webometrics ranking.
Irkutsk State University is aimed at developing long-term cooperation with foreign partners that in many cases results in joint educational or double degree programs. For more than 20 years the Siberian-American Faculty of Management of the Baikal International Business School has collaborated with the University of Maryland (USA) and University of Southern Queensland (Australia). The ISU International Institute of Economics and Linguistics conducts a double-degree program in a partnership with Liaoning University (China). In 2012 ISU and the Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel (Germany) signed an agreement to start a double degree program in the field of Ecology and Environmental Management. In 2014 ISU joined the consortium of Universities headed by the University of Hokkaido to develop “East Russia–Japan Expert Education Program”. There have also been concluded special agreements on academic exchange and master and bachelor double degree programs with of the University of Savoy Mont Blanc (France) and the Adam Mickiewicz University (Poland).
ISU is the only higher education institution that participates in the Scholarship program of the Oxford Russia Fund. Annually 140 undergraduate students of the humanities departments are awarded with a scholarship.
ISU is famous for its fundamental research in different spheres. Physicists of the Irkutsk State University won the large grant to construct the telescope Tunka-HiSCORE. Currently 35 projects are conducted under the support of the Russian Foundation for Fundamental Research and the Russian Fund for Humanities. In 2014-2015 ISU became the only higher education institution to get 4 large grants of the Russian Science Foundation.