‘The Professors Are Not Strictly Academic—They Are also Practicing Professionals’
For students interested in pursuing careers in international law or economic integration, HSE University’s Faculty of Law offers the Master’s Programme in Law of International Trade, Finance and Economic Integration. Previously taught in both Russian and English, the programme is now taught in English only. HSE News Service spoke with two first-year international students about their studies, living in Moscow, and their overall impressions of the programme.
In the Master’s Programme ‘Law of International Trade, Finance and Economic Integration’, students study not only with HSE faculty members, but international visiting professors and practicing lawyers as well. Lawyers invited to teach in the programme give students firsthand insight into working in international economic relations and international trade dispute settlements.
Sabilla Ramadhiani Firdaus (Indonesia) and Ahmad Ali (Sudan) are currently in their first year of the master’s programme ‘Law of International Trade, Finance and Economic Integration’. Sabilla works as a governance officer in Jakarta at the National Institute of Public Administration of Indonesia. She was drawn to the programme because of its offerings in international trade, WTO law, and international economic policy, as well as its location in Moscow. Ahmad, who has worked as a legal assistant in Khartoum, Sudan, chose the programme because of its focus on economic integration.
Sabilla Ramadhiani Firdaus, first-year student
My main interest in coming here was constitutional or governance law, but now I am becoming interested in international trade and economics as well. These tie in to my work in national law at the National Institute of Public Administration of Indonesia.
For my work at the Institute, I am currently conducting research in order to give a legal opinion regarding a case in Indonesia that requires knowledge of WTO law. I am very happy I came to this programme, because, as it so happens, one of my courses right now is on WTO law. I am studying both the theory behind it as well as its practical applications, so it’s really cool to be studying this in a classroom setting while working on this case for the Institute in Indonesia.
Many of my colleagues at the National Institute of Public Administration of Indonesia go to Western Europe to earn their master’s or doctoral degrees. I am the first person from the Institute to go to Russia for my higher education.
People often ask me, ‘Why Russia?’ I tell them that I came here because I think Russia can offer approaches to law and public administration that are different from those that we commonly take in Indonesia.
Usually, when it comes to a legal case or policy development, we follow European models. For this reason, I thought studying law in Russia would be more interesting.It also can add a different perspective on issues we deal with.
I came to HSE on a scholarship from the Russian Ministry of Education and Science. Because of the scholarship requirements, I studied in one of HSE’s International Preparatory Programmes, which provide immersive, intensive Russian language study for international students so that they can study in Russian-taught programmes in Russian universities.
Since the master’s programme in Law of International Trade, Finance, and Economic Integration is now taught in English only, I have fortunately not needed any Russian for my studies. However, I am glad I completed the preparatory programme, because now I can speak Russian. I speak Russian sometimes with my Russian classmates outside of class (our programme is about 1/3 international students and 2/3 Russians), as well as just in my everyday life outside of the University. Plus, Russian is one of the six languages of the UN, so it’s useful to know.
I like that the programme has a good balance between theory and practice. We have very dynamic classes in addition to online courses. Thanks to the varied structure, it’s never boring.
We often have invited lecturers from other universities or the legal sector. For example, wejust had a lecturer from Norway as well as a visit from representatives ofthe Baker McKenzie Law Firm here in Moscow. I like how practice-oriented the programme is, as well as how interactive it is.
My favorite course is probably ‘International Economic Law’ as well as ‘WTO Law’, which has enriched my research in the area. I am also taking an online course on business in Europe. I like the format – the course and exam are online, but then at the end we have an oral exam with the programme academic supervisor, Professor Vladislav Starzhenetsky. Another course I’m enjoying is the project seminar, ‘Law of International Treaty’, with Professor Vera Rusinova, where we will be presenting our research and analytical work.
Speaking of professors, the professors in our programme are great. They create a very comfortable environment in which we can engage in active discussion. They really care about the students.
Ahmad Ali, first-year student
Before coming to HSE, I had been working as a legal assistant at a prominent law firm in Khartoum, I earned my bachelor’s degree at Khartoum State University. I was interested in going abroad to pursue a master’s degree, and when I came across this programme in Law of International Trade, Finance, and Economic Integration at HSE, it immediately seemed like a good fit. I am interested in working to strengthen economic integration in the African Union. The level of economic integration in Africa currently is very weak and there is almost no common policy in the African Union—every country is more or less just doing its own thing. I think that the level of Integration achieved by the European Union can serve as an excellent model for African Countries.
As I read more about HSE University, I learned that, despite its good ranking, it’s actually quite young. This made me even more interested. I think that the University has achieved a lot within its 27-year existence in terms of its rankings and its expansion. It is a very dynamic place to be, and it has met my expectations.
In the programme, I have been impressed by Professor Starzhenetsky and Professor Eduard A. Ivanov. The courses here are giving me deeper insight into how economic integration works through examining the functioning of the EU. We have a course next semester about EU law – how it functions, how it was founded, its key pillars, etc. Courses like this are why I enrolled in the programme – to learn about economic integration and how I can apply it in the future.
What I like the most about the programme is that the professors are not strictly academic. They are also practicing professionals. They know a lot and have a lot of experience that they can share with us.
The course on international investment law, for example, is taught by an investment lawyer. We learn what we should do and what we should not do in professional practice. It was exactly what I had been hoping for.
Another Interesting course is ‘WTO Law’. I originally wasn’t interested in the World Trade Organization or trade law in general, but after studying with Professor Daria Boklan, I got interested in it. It kind of relates to economic integration. In my country of Sudan, for example, we have a lot of resources and everything a country needs in order to have robust trade with other countries, but we don’t have that. Instead of exporting processed products, we export products in their raw form, which does not generate much revenue or create any jobs.
Given my growing interest in trade law, I was very pleased to be one of 4 students selected to represent HSE in the John H. Jackson Moot Court Competition, which is organized by the European Law Students’ Association. I’ve really enjoyed participating in the competition and gained significant insight into trade law and how the WTO dispute settlement body works. I hope our team qualifies for the finals in Geneva, Switzerland.