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HSE University History

HSE History

Since its founding in 1992, National Research University – Higher School of Economics (HSE University) has developed from an economics institute into a comprehensive university. Based in Moscow, with branches in St. Petersburg, Nizhny Novgorod, and Perm, HSE University continues to grow. Among Russian universities, HSE University is a leader in economics, management, sociology, computer science, public policy, and political science.

We strive to fully prepare our students for their careers, equipping them with the competencies and skills that they need to succeed. Our origins as an economics school mean that, to this day, teaching economics is integral to curricula across faculties.

  • 1992 - 1999
  • 2000 - 2009
  • 2010 - 2019
  • 2020 - present

The idea for the creation of the Higher School of Economics was first born at the turn of the 1990s, when it became clear that the current system of economics education did not sufficiently address the new political and economic realities in Russia. A team of economics lecturers from Moscow State University (MSU), consisting of Evgeny Yasin, Yaroslav Kuzminov, Revold Entov, Oleg Ananyin, and Rustem Nureev, made several attempts to introduce “normal” economics to existing university curricula. They soon realized, however, the necessity to build a new economics school that from its very inception would be based on the principles of global economic science. At this new institution, students would learn to analyze and forecast real processes, work with statistics and economic models, and join the international community of professional economists.

The first attempt involved creating a department of economic theory at the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (1989-90) and the MSU faculties of physics and history (1990-91). Students took courses taught by young lecturers who were recent graduates of the economics faculty and traditional political economy courses. Many of those who would later form the core of HSE passed through these departments. They developed a methodology for teaching economic theory in a transition economy country. This initiative was supported by a one-year grant from the Soros Foundation in 1989.

 In 1991, Evgeny Yasin and Yaroslav Kuzminov, with active support from Leonid Abalkin and Yegor Gaidar, started to develop the concept for a new state university. Initially, the institution was supposed to be part of the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) Department of Economics. At the same time, however, the European Commission offered a grant to support the creation of an institution that would provide economics education that met global standards.

By order of the Russian government, on November 27, 1992, the Higher School of Economics was officially established. Initially, it offered only master’s degrees.

The early days included an intensive ‘teaching of teachers’. Revold Entov taught a course on key problems in economic theory to a team of teachers, mostly from RAS institutes and MSU. Grigory Kantorovich refreshed their knowledge of mathematics. Since 1993, HSE University lecturers have regularly attended trainings at leading European universities.

From its very first days, HSE University sought to provide a combination of tough training with lively discussion and innovative solutions to the most pressing problems in the Russian economy. Leading economists from the government, including Evgeny Yasin, Alexander Shokhin, Sergey Vasiliev, Yakov Urinson, Vladimir KossovEvgeny Gavrilenkov, and Mikhail Kopeikin, became professors at HSE.

In 1995, HSE was awarded university status and, in addition to economics, began to teach sociology, management, and law. Efficient teaching teams started to form around new professors such as Ovsey ShkaratanLeonid Ionin, and Sergey Filonovich.

At the same time, a system of research centres at HSE University was created. They focused on applied research commissioned by the Ministry of Economic Development, the Central Bank of Russia, and the Ministry of Education and Science, as well as private corporations and banks.

By this time, HSE University’s principles had been fully established: to respond to the requirements of world economics and social sciences; to encourage interdisciplinary interaction (economists study law and vice versa); to foster direct links between teaching and reform practices as well as applied research results; to share learnings and experience with the Russian academic community, including in the regions.

Political activity is prohibited at HSE University. Teachers are free to make their own conclusions; they may defend socialist, Keynesian, or liberal principles, as long as their arguments are based on a relevant theoretical analysis of factors.

In 1996, HSE University opened its first regional campus in Nizhny Novgorod. In the following year, HSE University campuses opened in St. Petersburg and Perm.


University Mascot

Since 1996, HSE’s official mascot has been the crow. The first illustration was created by artist Anna Arenstein and over the years many different designs have been introduced. You can find the crow on HSE souvenirs and awards and sometimes even in the streets of Moscow, Nizhny Novgorod, Saint Petersburg, or Perm.

In 1997, HSE University became one of the first Russian universities to successfully introduce a ‘double degree programme’ (several years before the Bologna process started). Together with one of the global leaders in economics education, London School of Economics (LSE), HSE University established the International College of Economics and Finance (ICEF). The creation of ICEF’s internationally recognized undergraduate and graduate programmes was possible due to the financial support from major banks, companies, and financial institutions, such as VTB24, Vneshtorgbank, and Sberbank. From the first year of study, ICEF courses are taught in English, and graduates earn two degrees at the same time.


In 2000, HSE University launched its own Publishing House, which specializes in publishing academic, teaching and reference literature in the university’s main areas of activity, including economics, management, sociology, political science, psychology, and law. Since its founding, there have been more than 1500 publications, 100 of which are translated works. The HSE University Textbooks series, introduced in 2003, includes more than 50 titles with more than 170,000 copies printed.

In that same year, the first April International Academic Conference on Economic and Social Development was held at HSE University. Since then, it has become a major annual academic event in Russia. In addition to Russian and international researchers, the event attracts top executives from the Russian Government and Presidential Administration, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, as well as major Russian and international companies.

In 2001, the main university prize, Golden HSE, was awarded for the first time. Since then, the number and categories of nominations have changed, but prizes continue to recognize HSE’s top teachers, researchers, and graduates, as well as others who have greatly contributed to the university’s development. Winners are determined by a vote from HSE University’s Board of Tenured Professors and receive a golden crow statue.

In 2003, HSE University became a member of the European University Association (EUA) and joined the Institutional Management in Higher Education (IMHE) programme of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The university actively participates in EUA and IMHE projects, which aim to enhance the quality of university programmes, research, and governance. In 2004, HSE carried out an Internationalization Quality Review and began work on research management as part of the Quality Culture Network.

In 2004, HSE University students established their own award, in homage to the eternal question ‘what came first, the chicken or the egg?’ From sports to charity, top student projects and achievements in different fields are awarded an Iron Egg.


Golden HSE

HSE’s main prize was first awarded in 2001. The prize categories have changed over the years but always recognize the best teachers, researchers, and graduates, as well as people who have made significant contributions to the university’s development. Winners are determined by a vote of a jury and receive a golden crow statuette.

Iron Egg

What came first, the chicken or the egg? In the spirit of this eternal question, since 2004, HSE University has awarded prizes for the best student projects and achievements in different areas, including sports, charity, and volunteer work.

In 2008, the university adopted a long-term Development Strategy up to 2020. The goal is to make HSE University an internationally-recognized cutting-edge research, educational, analytic, consulting and project centre in social sciences and economics. It seeks to make major contributions to Russia’s innovative development and global competitive ability. A Supervisory Council was also established to conduct public expertise and control the process and efficiency of the strategy’s implementation. The Council consisted of representatives from the government, expert communities, corporations, business associations, media, and the public.

In 2009, HSE University became Russia’s only national research university specializing in social sciences and the humanities. The following year, it became an autonomous educational institution and was renamed National Research University - Higher School of Economics (HSE University). The HSE International Advisory Committee was formed and headed by Eric Maskin, Nobel Prize winner in economics.

In late 2010 and early 2011, HSE University opened its first international research laboratories. They are jointly headed by renowned international scholars and leading HSE researchers. The laboratories became part of the university strategy to create and develop its research, teaching, and staff potential.

By an order of the Russian government, in 2011, HSE University acquired the Moscow State Institute of Electronics and Mathematics(MIEM), the Management Training Centre, and the GASIS Academy of Continuing Professional Education (GASIS).

In 2011, the concept for the socio-economic development of Russia up to 2020 started to be developed. Strategy 2020 was commissioned by the Russian government and prepared by over one thousand experts. Their work was coordinated by HSE and the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, which became the key platforms for expert discussions, workshops, and debates. Twenty-one expert groups were organized in various areas of social and economic policy. The main work was carried out in 2011 and the following year the strategy was revised by experts. At the same time, surveys were carried out to discover the attitudes of different segments of society to the strategy proposals.

In 2012, the HSE Supervisory Council was established as an autonomous institution. It was initially headed by Alexander Zhukov, Deputy Prime Minister of Russia, and German Gref, CEO of Sberbank, became Deputy Chairman. In 2016, the list of the Supervisory Council members was updated, and the council is currently led by Sergey Kirienko, First Deputy Chief of Staff of the Presidential Administration of Russia.

For the first time, in 2012, HSE entered the top 500-550 category of the QS World University Rankings, which assess universities in terms of research, reputation among employers, teaching, and internationalization.


The HSE Day

The first HSE Day was held in September 2012 to celebrate HSE University’s twentieth anniversary. Held in Moscow’s iconic Gorky Park, the annual event marks the beginning of the academic year and combines Freshman Day with an alumni reunion and faculty open houses. Over the years, HSE Day has become a tradition not only for members of the university but also from the greater Moscow community.

In 2013, HSE University became one of 15 universities to win the competition to participate in the 5-100 Project. The goal of the project is to develop modern, world-renowned universities in Russia by 2020. This includes creating effective management structures, increasing international academic reputation, and becoming global trend-setters in higher education.

That same year, HSE University began to work with Coursera, one of the world’s largest online education platforms. Over the course of a year, a total of 350,000 people from 190 countries, including Russia, India, China, Great Britain, USA, Brazil, Germany, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine, enrolled in HSE courses.

In September 2013, the HSE Lyceum opened as part of the university. It is the first secondary school in Moscow that teaches according to new education principles, promoting ‘cooperation and mutual respect, regardless of age and status’. Students are given freedom of choice, are taught to take risks and not be afraid of making mistakes, to make their own decisions, and to be responsible for the outcomes. Lyceum students determine their own educational trajectories: they create their own study plans, choosing the subjects they want to study. There are required subjects, such as Russian language and mathematics, but students can choose the level of study (basic or advanced).



Since 2013, HSE University has held themed graduation parties at different venues around Moscow. From caps and gowns to speeches and concerts, it is a classic graduation ceremony that is followed by a massive party for all graduates.

In March 2014, together with Yandex, HSE University established a new Faculty of Computer Science. It brought together the School of Software Engineering, the School of Applied Mathematics and Information Science, and the Joint Department with Yandex.

In that same year, major internal reforms began at HSE University with the creation of ‘big faculties’, which are responsible for implementing educational programmes. The main reasons for the reform were the need to optimize management, to transfer resources and responsibilities from the central budget to big departments, as well as to overcome ‘departmentization’ (when certain subjects had little or no interaction with those in other departments). As a result, by the beginning of 2015, 11 big faculties had been formed at the Moscow campus from 28 faculties and schools.

In 2015, HSE University continued to make progress in international university rankings, placing in the QS World University Rankings by Subject.  HSE University was the only Russian university to rank in the categories ‘Development Studies’ (51-100), ‘Economics and Econometrics’ (151-200), and ‘Sociology’ (151-200).  The university also ranked for ‘Philosophy’ (151-200).

On September 1, 2015, the first HSE University's online courses opened on the National Open Education Platform. That same month, HSE University received about 35,000 applications from 13,000 potential students to open optional courses.

In December 2015, HSE University’s student government was reformed to include a Student Council and a Student Rights Commissioner (Ombudsman).

In 2016 the HSE Business Incubator was named Incubator of the Year in Russia by the Internet Initiative Development Fund. The same year, UBI Global ranked it 14thamong the world’s best university business incubators (and 7th within Europe), and it was the only Russian incubator in UBI Global Top 25. In 2018, it was ranked 7th globally.

In 2016, the university entered the Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings for the first time, appearing in the 401-500 range (out of 980 universities) and fourth among Russian universities. HSE University was also ranked in the THE top 100 rankings for 'Business and Economics', becoming the only Russian institution in that field. In 2016, HSE University rose 90 positions in the QS Rankings, entering the 411-420 range.

In September 2016, the number of students enrolled in HSE University’s online courses through Coursera and the National Open Education Platform exceeded one million.

The HSE Lyceum has become one of Russia’s top 10 secondary schools and ranks as the second best school in Moscow. It is regarded as the best school in the country for social sciences, humanities and economics, and the second best for philology.

In October 2016, a Faculty of Physics was founded as part of HSE University. The faculty was created in collaboration with leading Russian Academy of Science institutes such as the Landau Institute for Theoretical Physics, the Kapitza Institute for Physical Problems, the Institute of Solid State Physics, the Prokhorov General Physics Institute, the Institute for Spectroscopy, and the Space Research Institute.

In 2017, HSE University launched Data Culture project. It aims to to provide all undergrads with insight into the latest technologies used in data analysis.

In 2018, HSE University held the first International Economics Olympiad for secondary school students. Teams from 15 countries took part.

In 2018, two new faculties of natural sciences were added - Faculty of Chemistry and Faculty of Biology and Biotechnologies. These faculties work in partnership with leading RAS institutions where students carry out research.

In 2019, a supercomputer, later named cHARISMa (Computer of HSE for Artificial Intelligence and Supercomputer Modelling), was installed at HSE University.

Master of Data Science—the first master’s programme in Russia to be offered completely online through the Coursera global education platform—was launched.

A new building complex on Pokrovsky Boulevard was opened. The renovated complex includes 13 buildings and is one of the most advanced university campuses both in Moscow and Russia. Its three huge atriums connect historical buildings in an integrated space.

The Faculty of Geography and Geoinformation Technology was created at HSE University in partnership with the RAS Institute of Geography.


At the beginning of 2020, the HSE Academic Council adopted the Programme of HSE Development up to 2030. Under the programme, the university aims to achieve a globally recognized level of research, education and project work within ten years, as well as to become one of the world’s leading research universities in all its areas of activity.

In May, during the pandemic lockdown, HSE University opened a building in Minecraft. HSE Minecraft has become an important platform for open days, parties and concerts, as well as for lectures, seminars and other types of classes.

HSE University became the first in Russia to publish a report on the implementation of its third mission. The report included 180 projects in 12 fields in which the university has served as initiator or partner. In total, these projects include about 1,300 online and on-site events with over 5,000,000 participants.

In September, the HSE Endowment Fund exceeded one billion roubles, becoming one of the top three biggest Russian public university endowment funds in terms of assets.

Inter-campus courses were added to the university curriculum. Thanks to an integrated schedule for all HSE campuses, the courses allowed students from different cities to learn from one or several teachers simultaneously.

In 2021, the University launched its first fully online bachelor’s programme: Computer Science and Data Analysis.

There were changes in the HSE University administration. Nikita Anisimov became Rector, Yaroslav Kuzminov took the position of Academic Supervisor, and Evgeny Yasin became Honorary Academic Supervisor.