When the Borders Are Closed, Study ‘Abroad’ in a Double Degree Programme
This year, alternatives to studying abroad are as relevant as never before. HSE University annually launches new joint programmes with world’s biggest universities. One of HSE’s oldest and most recognized double degree programmes is the ICEF bachelor’s programme, in which students can earn a degree not only from HSE University, but from the University of London as well. Below, we talk about the advantages of such a degree, career opportunities after graduation, and the programme prerequisites.
Why Students Choose ICEF
The ICEF (International College of Economics and Finance) is a college at HSE University where bachelor’s students can earn two degrees – one from HSE University and an international degree from the University of London. ICEF also offers a master’s programme ‘Financial Economics’ in which students can earn an HSE University master’s degree together with a certificate from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).
ICEF courses are taught in English, and the programme curriculum is developed jointly by the LSE and HSE. Furthermore, students have two exam periods, which is energizing in a sense: according to graduates, after ICEF, they easily handle tough schedules at work or deal with the academic load at PhD programmes. During their studies, students get access to all learning resources of the University of London, including online courses and e-libraries.
ICEF students have ample opportunities to design individual curricula. They can choose their specialization, professional courses, and courses in humanities, as well as optional courses in foreign languages, programming, data science, art history, soft skills, and more. Graduates report that the international education they received at the ICEF has made them part of the global community. A double degree opens career prospects abroad and gives students the necessary experience and widened perspective that helps them feel comfortable in the global professional community. The annual graduation ceremony takes place at the residence of the Ambassador of Great Britain in Moscow, with the participation of the management of the LSE, the University of London, representatives of the financial world, and other notable guests.
Today, ICEF teaches over 1,000 students and employs about 150 teachers, 30 of whom hold PhDs from universities outside of Russia. The community of ICEF alumni includes about 2,000 people and is part of the global community of LSE graduates, who number 155,000.
Proficiency in English is Required
For studying at ICEF, a high level of English proficiency is necessary, which can be reflected in high USE (Unified State Examination) grades. Meanwhile, students are not expected to speak English fluently during their first year of studies: they will have a serious English course at ICEF, which is taught by native speakers. First-year students may take an intensive course on professional English, so that they can understand the terminology in their English-taught courses. At the end of the first year of their studies, they must pass the IELTS at the level required for admission to the University of London.
ICEF was founded in 1997 thanks to HSE University’s cooperation with the London School of Economics and Political Science, University of London. The evolving economic college has been supported by the Russian business community (VTB, Sberbank, Vnesheconombank, and Russian Exchange).
Who Teaches at ICEF
The ICEF recruits teachers and researchers on the global job market, together with LSE. Over 30 lecturers with PhDs from leading universities in Europe, USA, Canada, and Great Britain teach in the bachelor’s programme today. Their papers are published in the Top 5 journals in economics and finance. The ICEF also hosts seminars and workshops by representatives of research centres, banks, and companies, as well as professors from LSE, Oxford, and other international universities. The programme provides students with lots of opportunities for networking in academia and business communities, which facilitates the start of their careers.
How a Degree Helps Career Development
ICEF graduates work, study and teach in Russia and 35 other countries.
‘Our graduates are well known in Great Britain—and not only at the LSE, since they regularly continue their studies in master’s and PhD programmes of the best British universities, in addition to working there at financial centres, banks, and companies. Over a hundred of our graduates work and study in London alone, and we organize annual alumni meetings in two cities – Moscow and London,’ says Oleg Zamkov, Academic Supervisor of the ICEF’s bachelor’s programme.
A University of London degree, which is conferred to ICEF graduates, has several classes. The highest is First-Class Honours, which is particularly valued among employers and leading universities, as well as organizations that allocate grants and scholarships. Over 30% of ICEF graduates get a First-Class degree, while the global share is only about 4%.
Dmitry Aksakov, graduate of ICEF bachelor’s programme, Vice President of VEB.RF
By my fourth year of studies at ICEF, I found myself in an international environment, since many classes were taught by foreign lecturers. World-renowned academics and finance professionals from different countries led workshops regularly. After the first year of studies, I went to a summer school at the London School of Economics. After graduation, I was admitted to Oxford, which wasn’t hard: they know the ICEF surprisingly well, particularly thanks to the fact that Oxford professors were regulars at our classes. ICEF did a great job preparing us for the GMAT and the essay. I had a constant feeling that there is a beaten path from ICEF to Western universities, which has been ‘beaten’ in a mere decade. I was completely sure that we, the ICEF alumni, are well prepared, that we have a powerful knowledge foundation with a lot of mathematical disciplines, and many of us easily joined academic communities at the most recognized universities.
For the outstanding success of its students, ICEF has been awarded the highest status of Affiliate Centre of the University of London External System. In 2015, ICEF Director Sergey Yakovlev was awarded an honourary degree of Doctor of Science (Economics), honoris causa, of the University of London; ICEF also receives acknowledgement letters from London annually. This means that the programme is recognized internationally, which undoubtedly means that it is trusted by the world’s biggest universities and employers.
Opportunities Upon Graduation
Statistics show that 33% of ICEF graduates continue their studies in postgraduate programmes (MSс, MBA, PhD) abroad, at universities such as Harvard, MIT, LSE, Oxford, Cambridge, LBS, Princeton, Stanford, Chicago, and others. Since 2003, ICEF has been the first college in Russia whose graduates of the bachelor’s programme have entered PhD programmes of the best economics research universities.
Over 50 bachelor’s and master’s ICEF graduates have studied in PhD programmes. Many of them already teach at universities in the U.S. (Miami, Georgetown, Oregon), Great Britain (LBS), France (PSB Paris School of Business, École Polytechnique), Switzerland (Lausanne), and Russia (NES, HSE).
Where Graduates Work and How ICEF Helps with Career Building
The ICEF has a Career Centre, and from their first year of study, students can attend sessions that introduce the future profession and provide an overview of potential career areas. The Centre helps students prepares for interviews, find internships, and put together portfolios for PhD programme applications. At Career Centre events, students meet representatives of international companies, and experts answer their questions: what they can do in investment banking, the real sector, consulting, or how to build an academic career. Over 100 major companies cooperate with the ICEF Career Centre, and they already employ ICEF graduates. These brands include McKinsey, KPMG, PWC, BCG, J.P. Morgan, VTB, Sberbank, Alfa Bank, Yandex, Google, IBM, and others. Many graduates successfully start their own businesses.
Opportunities to Study Abroad When the Borders Re-Open
ICEF students take part in HSE University’s and ICEF’s student exchange programmes, which provide them the opportunity to spend a semester in continental Europe, Great Britain, USA, or Japan, as well as to receive a scholarship or a grant. Particularly convenient and effective formats are summer schools at LSE, semester exchange programmes at universities of Bocconi, Tilburg, Warwick, Humboldt, HEC in Paris, and others. Usually ICEF students establish close connections with the universities, meet new friends, and pave the way for further studies or work abroad.
Many ICEF graduates choose to continue their studies at business schools: about a dozen of them have studied at Harvard Business School, and others studied at London Business School, the Wharton School, Yale, HEC, and others. Some examples of such careers include Dmitry Aksakov (Vice President of VEB.RF), Alexey Sosnovsky (Senior Vice-President at McKinsey & Company), and Asan Kurmanguzhin (CEO at SberMarket).
About 20% of graduates get admitted to universities in Russia, with some of them choosing the ICEF master’s programme in Financial Economics. For several years, the programme has ranked among the top 100 of the world’s best master’s programmes in finance according to the QS ranking. A unique feature of the programme is that it combines the approaches of the LSE and HSE and provides an opportunity to study for two years, while master’s programmes in Great Britain last only one year. This helps students delve deeper into the material and get a summer internship after their first year of study.
Graduates eagerly participate in the ICEF mentoring programme and help students in their professional development, as well as establish scholarships for best students.
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