'This Master’s Programme Has Given Me My First Experience of Living Outside Uzbekistan'
Khushnuda Khamidova earned her BSc degree in Economics with Finance in Tashkent before she enrolled in ICEF MSc Programme – the choice she made to gain expert knowledge and life experience.
This master’s programme has given me my first experience of living outside Uzbekistan.
I made up my mind to go to study abroad when I was a schoolgirl, so I was working really hard on my math and English language skills. In Tashkent, I got enrolled in Westminster International University’s bachelor programme in Economics with Finance, from which I graduated with honours.
My plan was to enroll in master’s programme of an overseas university, but after I got hired by General Motors Uzbekistan I had to put my plans of searching for suitable programmes and scholarships on the shelf.
In my fifth year of service I learned about Open Doors: Russian Scholarship Project. It is an online competition that grants winners places on master’s programmes at any Russian university. Unlike many other master’s programmes offered abroad, this competition didn’t require candidates to provide thick packages of documents and reference letters.
I couldn’t but grasp at the chance. Winning the competition in Economics had granted me the right to choose from among a series of Economics programmes.
I chose the one of HSE, which is a specialized university with ICEF delivering the English-taught Financial Economics Programme in cooperation with The London School of Economics.
Tests and discoveries
I was told that studying at HSE was tough. And that one had to be really skilled at Mathematics. However, the reality was something else: that first month of studies had surpassed all my expectations. The level of Maths we were taught didn’t come even near what we considered advanced in Uzbekistan at school and university. The whole term was dedicated to learning integrals and differential equations. On top of that there were effort-consuming home assignments on other subjects and the continuous chain of self-study activities.
At term II, as you get used to the pace, things become more manageable for you. Also, the lecturers are trying to make the learning process as hands-on as possible. I especially liked Stochastic Analysis – the highly sophisticated course by Boris Demeshev and how he used simple language to explain complex things. And the course in contract theory, delivered by Tatiana Maiskaya. It was interesting for me to explore the forms ‘master and servant’ and ‘customer and buyer’ relations take in real-life conditions. It was interesting also to learn how people can be able to manage other peoples’ decisions without really knowing them.
I am into Finance and I want to learn how to handle big data. Hence the topic I chose for my research – predicting agency ratings with market quotes. The access to databases here at ICEF is simply unlimited, compared to the one offered by my bachelor’s programme. And it took me one term to learn how to handle them in principle.
My bachelor’s degree programme used anonymous assessment, which meant student’s name was unknown to the graders of exam or courseworks. It came as a surprise to me that anonymously assessed at ICEF are only final exam papers, not midterms or home assignments.
Af ICEF, there are master’s courses the knowledge of which is tested by responsible lecturers in cooperation with external examiners from the London School of Economics. Every test paper to be asessed by such external examiners bears only student ID, which is assigned to each student for the period of examination. The outside examiners have a decisive opinion as to the final grade. Students may not appeal or require their test papers be reviewed if they had been graded by external examiners.
Though, there’s a lot of things that have much in common – the Study office and the career guidance centre, which are as helpful as Westminster University’s.
I am planning to go back to Uzbekistan after I graduate. I love my country and my people. The MSc degree from ICEF will make me qualified for a variety of jobs in my country. There’s a national grant programme in Uzbekistan for students studying abroad. It offers jobs at state-financed organizations. I’ve applied and won the grant.
I’m excited about the prospect of working in finance. Only that Uzbekistan can’t boast with a financial market as developed as the Russian one. I must say I was pleasantly surprised by how highly automated Russia’s banking system is, by its approach to customers and how effectively it presents its services.
In Uzbekistan, product advertising and marketing seem to be less potent. You don’t see a lot of search engine advertising. Over the last 2-3 years the government established preferential credit programmes, telephone counselling hotlines and one stop shops to support SMEs and family businesses. Bank officials are going door to door in mahallas (small residential quarters) to tell people about the facilities available to those who want to start their own business.
Coming to Russia for the experience of a different country was definitely worth it. I know my mind set is changing, although the change itself may not be that evident. Things won’t be same when I’m back home and I hope I will be wise enough to see where I can make a difference.
Ekaterina Tolkacheva, specially for HSE