Lomonosov Moscow State University has ranked in the top five of the 2015 BRICS and emerging-economies university rankings published this week by Times Higher Education, an esteemed U.K.-based magazine.
Moscow State University, or MSU, climbed five places from last year to rank fifth in this year's list, which includes only institutions in countries classified as "emerging economies" by stock index compiler FTSE.
Despite having an overall highly educated population, Russia since the Soviet Union's collapse has struggled to preserve its once-high standards. A 2013 study by the World Economic Forum evaluated Russia's human capital rank as middling, placing it 51st among 122 countries.
Topping the 2015 BRICS and emerging-economies rankings were China's Peking and Tsinghua universities in first and second place, respectively, followed by Turkey's Middle East Technical University (fourth) and South Africa's University of Cape Town (tied for fifth).
Although China secured the two top spots on this year's list, "Russia has the greatest [educational] potential," according to Philip Altbach, director of the Center for International Higher Education at Boston College in the U.S.
Altbach, who is also an adviser on higher education reform to the Russian government, told Times Higher Education that "Russia builds on a strong academic tradition that has been neglected in recent years, and is engaging in several impressive efforts."
"These [efforts] include designating some of the top institutions as 'national research universities' and running a well-funded government scheme to support a small number of universities to build up their capacities for research and improve their status in the rankings," he said.
Six other Russian universities made the top 100, up from just two last year, according to the Times Higher Education website.
These were: Moscow-based National Research Nuclear University (13); Novosibirsk State University (34); St. Petersburg State University (64); the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (69); Ufa State Aviation Technical University (70); and Bauman Moscow State Technical University (90).
But MSU is the only Russian university to be included in the top 100 of the Times Higher Education's 2014 list of world reputation rankings. Of those universities, Moscow State ranks in 50th place, above the Ohio State University but below the University of Manchester.
The Times Higher Education rating is one of the world's three leading university ratings, along with a list compiled annually by British-based education specialists QS (Quacquarelli Symonds) and the Academic Ranking of World Universities compiled in Shanghai.