In Irkutsk, the origins of vocational education are associated with the opening of a navigational school in 1745, which was transformed into a school of navigation and geodesy in 1754, and in 1789 it was attached to the Main National School – a higher educational institution. Here they taught general education disciplines, architecture, geometry, mechanics and physics.

In 1805, the Main National School entered into the full management of a male gymnasium open in Irkutsk then, the pupils of which had the right to enter university after graduation.

But classical education did not meet the needs of the region for technical specialists. Therefore, in 1866, a real gymnasium with the teaching of technology was opened in Irkutsk. Financial support for the gymnasium was provided by gold producers, owners of distilleries, as well as citizens. Subsequently, the gymnasium was transformed into a technical school (1874), and a technical school into an industrial school (1890).

When the school in 1888 for practical classes with students were opened mechanical workshops with a steam engine, plumbing, electricity and modern machine tools. The ultimate goal of the gymnasium and the industrial school was the graduation of specialists in technical disciplines with a high general educational level.

In 1893, another specialized secondary educational institution was opened – the Irkutsk Mining School, whose main task was to prepare installers for the needs of mining and, in particular, for the gold mining industry. Duration of study was determined at 4 years.

In 1918 the school was transformed into a secondary mining technical, and in 1920 – into the Irkutsk Polytechnic College. But soon the technical school was reorganized into the Irkutsk Polytechnic Practical Institute (Irpolprin).

Due to the difficult economic situation in the country, temporarily all educational institutions were transferred to the maintenance of the local budget. In August 1923, Irpolprin was reorganized into the East-Siberian Polytechnic of regional importance.

Subsequently, the Polytechnic became the basis for the opening of the Siberian Mining Institute in Irkutsk.

In March 1929, Irkutsk became the center of the Siberian gold-mining industry — the board of the Soyuzzoloto joint-stock company was transferred here from Moscow, and a science and technology center for gold and platinum was established here. The Mining Institute was housed in one of the best buildings in the city on ul. Lenin, 3. The first director was appointed the head of the geological survey department of the board of Soyuzzoloto, S. V. Sergeev, and GV Klyuchansky, deputy director for educational and scientific work.

At the same time the faculty of workers was opened. He carried out pre-university education, and his significance in those years was enormous. In addition, for managers of enterprises in Siberia and the Far East who do not have higher education, accelerated training was organized at the institute in the form of refresher courses.

The priority tasks in 1941-1945 were: scientific developments for the military industry, all-round assistance to the front, the preservation of a contingent of students, the acceptance of new replenishment, the timely release of specialists. It was necessary to perform these tasks in extremely difficult conditions.

From March 19, 1960, the Institute of Mining and Metallurgy became known as Polytechnic. This name reflected the evolving versatility of the university, its connection with the developing economy of the country, especially the East Siberian region, which by this time had turned into a solid construction site. At the same time, Angarsk, Bratsk, Shelekhov, Bratsk Hydroelectric Power Station, industrial petrochemical complexes and other facilities were being built. In this regard, there was an urgent need for specialists for many sectors of the national economy.

The new status of the university was confirmed by Resolution No. 6 of November 30, 1994 and license No. 16 of G-082 of March 6, 1994 of the State Committee of the Russian Federation, and later with a certificate of certification of an educational institution (1997), state accreditation (1998) giving the right to conduct educational activities in the field of secondary, higher, postgraduate, vocational further education.

On May 20, 2010, ISTU was granted the status of “National Research University” and approved a program of scientific development in the following priority areas:

  • Highly efficient technologies for subsoil use
  • High technology, highly efficient production technology of machinery and equipment
  • High-tech life support systems in urbanized and sparsely populated areas
  • Industry nanosystems and nanomaterials