The change of the conservative policy of the late 1840s – early 1850s towards the universities to the liberal policy is connected with the accession of the emperor Alexander II, called the Liberator. A lot of memoirists noted that, after his accession, the spirit of freedom and the expectation of change for the better were felt throughout society. Therefore, the University’s Statute of 1863 was seen by the next generation as a liberal ideal to which they would return after the conservative Statute of 1884. One of the main reasons for that was the fact that Alexander II abolished entrance examinations to universities for gymnasium students, which was confirmed by the law of 1863. At the same time, the entrance to universities for seminarians became open in 1863. However, the appearance of those laws didnot abolish examinations neither for gymnasium students, nor for seminarians, which were undergoing through entrance tests. Only in 1873,the Emperor ordered to abolish exams for gymnasium students completely, and the entrance of seminarians to the universities was closed in 1879. After that, the Ministry of National Education slowly and reluctantly opened the opportunity to get a university education for secondary school graduates who did not have evidences of graduation. However, until the end of the Russian Empire, it was the certificate which gave the right to the entrance to the University without entrance examinations.
Key words: history of education, universities of the Russian Empire, entrance examinations, gymnasium students, seminarians.