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HSE International Preparatory Programmes Kick off New Year

On November, 22, HSE’s International Preparatory Programmes (IPP) kicked off a new school year with a Welcome Day event. Students were greeted by IPP Director Alexandra Nazarchuk before taking the stage themselves to give short presentations about their home countries. HSE News Service spoke with students of the programme about their classes, living in Moscow, and what they plan do to after they compete the programme.

60 Countries in 1 Room

‘Students from all over the world have come to study in our programme this year,’ said IPP Director Alexandra Nazarchuk in her opening remarks. ‘Today is about getting to know each other better.’ The event served its purpose: students nearly filled the spacious auditorium of the Cultural Centre located at HSE University’s new Pokrovka complex, and the event programme featured a lengthy line-up of student presentations about their home countries, including Mongolia, China, Bulgaria, Israel, Mexico, Iran, and more.

The programme also included short presentations by two IPP graduates who now study in Russian-taught programmes at HSE. Guests heard from Suarez Delgado Daniel Ricardo (Colombia), who is now a third-year student in the ‘World Economy’ Bachelor’s Programme in the Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs, and Kuruppuge Divani Mandira (Sri Lanka), who graduated from IPP in 2016 and is now a fourth-year student at the HSE Tikhonov Moscow Institute of Electronics and Mathematics (MIEM HSE). ‘I remember when I first came to HSE, I only knew “please” and “thanks” in Russian. By the time I finished the preparatory programme, though, I was ready for my studies in MIEM,’ Mandira said.

A Fast Track to HSE

HSE’s International Preparatory Programmes (IPP) prepare foreign students with little or no knowledge of Russian to enrol in Russian-taught full-degree bachelor’s and master’s degree programmes at HSE University or other Russian universities. The IPP ‘Basic Course’ lasts two semesters. In the first semester, students take full-time intensive Russian language courses. During the second semester, they take a combination of Russian language and specialized subject courses. For their subject courses, students choose from three tracks: Economics, Humanities, and Engineering and Technology. Each track is comprised of three required courses.

In addition to gaining a foundation in their planned area of specialization, students gain a familiarity with the Russian academic system and, most importantly, become proficient in Russian. Upon completing a preparatory course, students are expected to reach intermediate-level language skills (CEFR level B1, TRKI level 1). This level provides students a solid foundation upon which they can study alongside Russian students in a Russian-taught degree programme of their choice as well as develop their language skills further.

This year, there are about 300 students enrolled in the preparatory programme, and roughly a third of them (111 students) have received Russian government-funded scholarships to continue their studies in Russian-taught full-degree programmes at HSE University after finish the preparatory programme.

A New Common Language

Though many students arrived in late September, IPP offers rolling start dates, and some students had only just arrived within the last month—hence the late-autumn timing of the Welcome Day. The event gave late comers the opportunity to get a taste of just how much progress they will soon make: for many students who had arrived in September, Russian had already become the community lingua franca. Consequently, Russian prevailed as the working language of the event, and, if students did slip into English or their native tongues, classmates would reprimand them: ‘Govorite po-russki!!’ (‘Speak Russian!!’)

© Daniil Prokofyev/ HSE University

David Aharon, Israel

I’ve been here since September, and I’m really liking the preparatory programme. I really like how we interact with our teachers a lot. This makes the language learning more intensive and you really begin to actually think in the language. It’s like you’re speaking Russian natively. My grandmother spoke to me in Russian when I was little, so I had a lot of passive vocabulary—but now it is being activated. At the moment, we are just taking intensive Russian language courses, but next semester we will begin our specialized courses. I will be taking courses in the Economics track. I’m really looking forward to it—we have incredible teachers who make classes very interactive, and I find the learning atmosphere to be very positive. Now I feel like Russia is a second home. After I complete the programme, I plan to enrol in one of HSE’s undergraduate programmes in economics.

© Daniil Prokofyev/ HSE University

Jeongeun Park, South Korea

I’m from South Korea, but I lived in the US for the past 5 years because I was studying there—I earned my bachelor’s degree in history from Stanford University. While studying Cold War-era East Asian history there, I became interested in North Korean history. However, in order to do good, rigorous research on North Korea based on primary resources – actual materials from North Korea – I need to be in Moscow. After the fall of the USSR, they started releasing materials from the state archives, so there are lots of materials from the Soviet Communist Party, and there are materials from their diplomacy, so all the interesting stuff is here and in Vladivostok. Therefore, I decided that the first thing I need to do is learn Russian.

Before coming here, I did a month of private tutoring, so I basically just knew the Russian alphabet. But since coming here I feel that my Russian is improving very quickly, and my teachers have been very creative with the exercises. My classmates and I have been very supportive of each other, so we have a great learning environment.

After I complete this programme, I’m interested in enrolling in the School of Asian Studies in the Faculty of World Economy and Foreign Affairs. After the master’s programme, if I continue to want to be a professional academic, I’ll probably apply to PhD programmes in the United States, because by then I will be proficient in Russian and have archival research experience.


© Daniil Prokofyev/ HSE University

Risto Zafirov, Macedonia

I’m from Macedonia, and this is my first time in Russia. Even though I only arrived in September, I feel like I’ve made tremendous progress with my Russian. True, Macedonian is kind of similar to Russian—we have similar words—but I did not have any previous experience with Russian, and didn’t speak it before I came. Now I am having conversations with my classmates.

I had heard from a lot of people that HSE is the best university in Moscow, and I have to say that I’m really impressed by the teaching methodology here. In our Russian courses, the teachers facilitate innovative activities – it’s not just textbook work – so it’s easier for us to connect with the language and to help us understand it.

I am also very impressed by HSE’s new campus here on Pokrovsky. It’s amazing. Once I’m finished with the preparatory programme, I plan on enrolling in an undergraduate programme in economics – I haven’t chosen which one yet.

New Preparatory Programme for Future Economists – in English

Though HSE University offers rigorous programmes in the sciences, social sciences, and humanities, many international students are drawn to the university’s programmes in economics that are taught in English. For students interested in pursuing a degree in one of HSE’s English-taught programmes, HSE’s International Preparatory Programmes have inaugurated a new programme, the English Preparatory Programme in Economics. Instead of Russian language training, the course curriculum provides English language training, which is then combined with subject-specific modules taught by faculty members of the HSE International College of Economics and Finance. Enrolment begins February 1st. Click here for more information.

See also:

‘Coming Here Felt Like the Right Choice’

Leticia Ines and Alejandro Perna first met in a Russian lesson in Buenos Aires. Now, eight years later, they are studying together in HSE University’s Preparatory Year programme. They spoke to the News Service about how their love for Russian language and culture brought them together and led them to enrol at HSE University, what their classes are like, and where they see their careers going after they complete their studies in Moscow.

'I Fell in Love with HSE University at First Sight'

HSE University offers a wide range of online and in-person preparatory programmes for international students, including various Russian language courses for future Bachelor’s and Master’s students, intensive Maths training in Russian, and an English-taught course in Economics. Students come from all over the world, drawn to HSE by the strength of its international reputation and education quality. Several students of this year’s cohort have shared their impressions of the Prep Year programme.

Let's Learn to Speak Russian

A growing number of HSE University’s international students are actively learning Russian, even if their degree programme is taught entirely in English. To help them build fluency, the HSE University Preparatory Programme launched a Russian Speaking Club for its students in March 2021. Now, all HSE University's students, regardless of the programme they are in, can take part in the meetings.

Classes Start at HSE International Preparatory Programmes

In terms of format, this new academic year has been an unusual one for many HSE students. In HSE University’s International Preparatory Programmes (IPP), 90% of students from various countries will start their classes online. We talked with the IPP teachers and students about the structure and content of their courses, and the difficulties students face in mastering the Russian language and immersing themselves in Russian culture.

‘Russia Is a Country Full of Opportunities for Personal and Academic Growth’

HSE University’s International Preparatory Programme has awarded diplomas to the class of 2020. International students completed their yearlong intensive studies that included a Russian language course and a variety of subject specific courses. The aim of the preparatory programme is to help international students get ready to enroll in Russian-taught full degree programmes at HSE and other Russian universities

HSE University to Offer English Preparatory Programme in Economics

The English Preparatory Programme in Economics is designed to prepare students for degree-level study in the field of Economics at the International College of Economics and Finance, as well as other HSE University schools. Alexander Deev, HSE Director of International Admissions, spoke with the HSE News Service about the admissions requirements and the study trajectories of the course.

Learn Russian Online

The HSE Centre for International Preparatory Programmes is launching an intensive online course of Russian as a Foreign Language. The course will start on October 1, 2020 and will be part of a blended preparatory programme that aims to help international students gain proficiency in Russian so that they can enrol in Russian-taught undergraduate and graduate programmes. Registration for the course is already open.

Russian Language Unites: HSE Students Come Together for Online Classes While in Self-Isolation

Elena Aisakova teaches Russian to students of International Preparatory Programmes. Her five groups have all transitioned to distance learning. HSE News Service has asked Elena and HSE's international students what it’s like to study Russian online as well as what tips they have to help others learn effectively while being on ‘opposite sides’ of the computer screen.

International Students Successfully Complete HSE Preparatory Programme

On July 18, graduates of HSE’s International Preparatory Programmes had much to celebrate. For many, the day not only marked the last day of a rigorous programme, but the beginning of their next step in their education journey: enrolling in bachelor’s and master’s programmes at HSE University. Students and their instructors celebrated the occasion with a festive graduation party that included awards, poster presentations, cake for all, and even a Russian folk music performance.