St Petersburg University keeps its high positions in the Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU). This is considered to be the first and one of the most respected global rankings of world universities.

ARWU is one of three world rankings whose results are officially recognised in Russia. This year, St Petersburg University keeps its position in the 301-400 group. Only Lomonosov Moscow State University has a higher place among Russian higher education institutions.

ARWU uses six objective indicators to rank world universities. These are: the number of alumni and staff winning Nobel Prizes and Fields Medals; number of highly cited researchers; number of articles published in journals of Nature and Science; number of articles indexed in Science Citation Index; and per capita performance of a university.

ARWU was created by Shanghai Jiao Tong University in 2003; its other name is the Shanghai Ranking. Initially, St Petersburg University was in the top 500 world universities. It improved gradually its position, and by 2019 it has moved up a hundred places. It entered the Global Ranking of Academic Subjects – 2019 (ARWU) and showed the best result in Russia in automation and control – and was ranked 36th in the world.

Besides St Petersburg University and Lomonosov Moscow State University, this year ARWU has been entered by: Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology and Novosibirsk State University (both universities are far behind St Petersburg University and are included only in the 401-500 group); Moscow Engineering Physics Institute (the 601-700 group); and Ural Federal University (the 701-800 group). Also, this year, Tomsk State University, Kazan Federal University, ITMO University, and the National University of Science and Technology (MISIS) have entered the 801–900 group. The National Research University Higher School of Economics is in the 901–1000 group.