Background. The article examines the impact of distance education on the accessibility
of educational services. The question of whether digitalisation increases the chances of
obtaining a quality education or, conversely, exacerbates the problem of educational inequality in Russia is considered.
Objective. To study the prevalence and height of economic and territorial barriers restricting access to education in the “new” digital realities, as well as the main factors determining the depth of educational inequality.
Methods. The study was carried out from the standpoint of institutional and activity-based approaches to education based on sociological surveys conducted by the staff of
the Institute of Sociology, Russian Academy of Sciences. In addition, an exploratory analysis of longitudinal study data on the economic situation and health of the population was
Results. It was concluded that the economic barrier remains high and has an increasing
effect of the accessibility of education considering the dynamics of the population income. In addition, the difference between the potentials of online infrastructure in large
cities and rural areas does not contribute to overcoming the territorial barrier. Analysis of
statistical data has shown that digitalisation of education (with appropriate and sustainable infrastructure) allows overcoming territorial and economic barriers, as well as reducing
inequality of educational chances. However, this process is significantly influenced by the
social and cultural capital of the family, serious specific barriers and the presence of human
Practical significance. The results of the study help to adjust the existing programmes of
digitalisation of education (as well as to avoid mistakes when developing new ones), to increase the digital literacy of the population.