The HSE Academic Fund, established in late 2004, is a prominent feature of the Higher School of Economics as compared to most other higher schools or universities. The HSE Academic Fund was built on a previously operated internal research grants programme that was initiated in 2003 with joint funds from HSE faculty/schools or departments and the HSE centralised budget.

The HSE Academic Fund was established by way of analogy with the Russian Foundation for Basic Research and the Russian Humanitarian Research Foundation, and using their experiences and practices. The Academic Fund is not a registered legal body, it operates as a specific internal mechanism aiming to coordinate all kinds of academic activities support available within HSE. The ultimate goal of the Fund is to facilitate the renewal and professional development of the HSE faculty staff through the support of academic research in relation to the teaching process.