HSE Launching English-taught Master's Programme in Population and Development
— Why is the programme taught in English? Will Russian students be admitted to the programme alongside their international counterparts?
— We are really hoping to appeal to international students, primarily those from developing countries in Africa, South Asia, and developed countries that would like to study, among other things, aspects of Russia’s demographic and socioeconomic development. We also hope to see students from CIS countries, many of whom already speak English better than they speak Russian. But we are also interested in stronger Russian representatives who would ultimately like to continue their education abroad in a wider range of specialities – economics, management, etc. The knowledge that students gain from the programme will be sought after by both international companies and non-profit organisations, and the student’s excellent knowledge of English, which they will ‘polish up’ in their two years in the master’s programme, will always be an added benefit when finding a future job. It was also decided that the Population and Development programme would be in English because many of the programme’s courses will be taught by visiting foreign professors. Such courses will comprise up to 50% of overall credit hours.
— Aside from language, what is the main difference between the Population and Development programme and the Demography programme?
— Our programme takes a more hands-on approach. But this does not mean that graduates will be cut off from an academic career. Another difference is the training focus. The Population and Development programme has a concentration in State and Municipal Management, again because of its applied nature. We are going to train people to work with the government and officials, and our graduates will be specialists capable of making decisions that will be carried out at the government level – in healthcare and social security, for instance. In this area, a diploma in State and Municipal Management will be a huge stepping-stone to building a career in the state sector.
— What disciplines will be taught in the programme? Are there opportunities to specialize?
— At the start of the programme, students are offered a number of basic disciplines, including governance and public economics, as well as disciplines at the interface of demography and economics, and statistical methods. We will actually offer a statistical ‘guide,’ thanks to which students will be able to learn which methods to use in which situations, how to interpret data, and where to find necessary information independently if any issues arise.
Students can select a specialization among these disciplines and other areas as well. For example, students can study problems in healthcare and social work, migration, reproductive health and family planning, demography in the post-Soviet space, or economic demography with a focus on equality or problems in the pension system.
— Do similar programmes exist in Russia?
— The topic of population and development is practically non-existent in the CIS. Leading Western universities have similar programmes. England has yearlong programmes; these topics are parts of other disciplines in the U.S.; and French-speaking European countries have analogous programmes. In addition, programmes are being created at universities in developing countries. Also, sustainable development programmes are being organized within several faculties of ecology. We also touch upon this topic in our master’s programme.
— Who will the programme’s instructors be?
— We have contracts with renowned specialists from the U.S., France, Italy, Hungary, and Taiwan. HSE professors will also teach in the programme, including those from the Institute of Demography, the School of Public Administration, the Department of Health Care Administration and Economics, and the Faculty of Economics. Many of them received their PhDs at leading foreign universities.
— Will the master’s students be able to carry out research and gain hands-on experience?
— Classes are going to start closer to the evening, so students will have time to put their knowledge into practice. Instructors are ready to work with students outside of seminars. Depending on their interests, students will be able to take part in research projects being carried out in various areas by leading HSE researchers.
— How do you get into the programme?
— Students must submit a portfolio and their English test scores to be considered for the programme. The English tests can be replaced by actual certificates; students will need a 5.0 or higher on the IELTS and a score of 60 or above on the TOEFL IBT. Native English speakers or students who completed a Bachelor’s programme in English do not need to submit a certificate. In addition, an interview is a required component of students’ portfolios. Nonresident students will be able to attend the interview via Skype and in whichever language is more comfortable – English or Russian.
The portfolio includes all of the applicant's achievements, and particularly important are the student’s academic ones. This might include participating in conferences, writing articles, or an interesting thesis or final paper. There are quotas for international students available from the Russian government. There is early admission into the programme, and students can send their portfolios now. Then applicants will have time to add to the portfolios if necessary.
Over the past quarter-century, the socially accepted reproductive norm has hardly changed in Russia: most people still believe that two children per family is the ideal. The reality, however, is more diverse, and both largeand childfree families are increasingly commonplace. A new study by HSE demographers looks at changes in public opinion in Russia between 1995 and 2019 concerning the optimal number of children in the family.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, people around the world have faced an unprecedented crisis. The cataclysm has impacted Russia as well. Who will better deal the hardships—experienced baby boomers, Gen Xers who survived the 1990s, or Gen Yers who have had an easy life?
Most Russians would like to have two children: a boy and a girl. The others fall between the two extremes of either wanting no children (at least for now) or planning to have three or more. Having a large family is often associated with affluence. The reasons for having another child are many, from wishing to strengthen the family bond and teach older children to care for younger siblings to hoping that the maternity subsidy may help the family improve their housing situation. A HSE demographer used data from a sample of 15,000 respondents to study reproductive attitudes in Russia.
Citing data from Russia’s largest international sampling study, HSE demographers have shown that women are more likely than men to consider divorce and are more determined to end their marriage. They also found that young couples are more likely to be unhappy with their relationship. The report was prepared for the XXI April International Academic Conference on Economic and Social Development at HSE University.
Getting an education and a job, leaving the parental home and starting a family are some of the the milestones of growing up. For Russians in their thirties today, these stages do not necessarily follow a pre-set sequence and often overlap. In contrast to their parents, linear and predictable biographies are increasingly rare among Russian millennials, whose lives tend to look more like a patchwork of diverse events than a straight line. Some of these events, especially childbirth, often get postponed until later in life. For young Russians today, having children tends to be the last stage in their own transition to maturity, according to demographer Ekaterina Mitrofanova.
More than 500 large families in three Russian federal districts were surveyed to explore reasons why couples choose to have many children. Five main patterns were identified, driven by values (partner trust and religious beliefs), socioeconomic circumstances (income and education), and availability of support from extended family and friends.
Russia has just had a great contraceptive revolution, and it is not over: unwanted pregnancies are more often prevented than terminated. Russians now engage in family planning with more confidence: the number of births is almost equal to the number of pregnancies. On the basis of studies completed by HSE demographers, IQ.HSE examines the Soviet and Russian culture of birth control.
Russians have been estimating their general health as better over recent years, and life expectancy has been growing. Meanwhile, Russia is still falling behind EU countries according to this indicator. Alexander Ramonov, researcher from the HSE Institute of Demography, studied the reasons for this.
Reproductive behavior is modernizing at different rates in post-Soviet countries. Things are changing faster in Russia, Armenia, Georgia and Ukraine, where, over the last fifteen years, the average maternity age has increased and the contribution of women in their thirties to their countries’ birthrates has grown. Meanwhile, old reproductive patterns persist in Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, where firstborns are usually born to parents under 30, demographers Vladimir Kozlov and Konstantin Kazenin note in a paper delivered at HSE’s XX April International Academic Conference.
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