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HSE and University of London Create a New Bachelor’s Parallel Degree Programme in Management and Digital Innovation

The first intake into the English-taught programme will be in 2018. The programme director, Sergey Efremov, gives us an insight into what students will be studying and where they can find work – not only in IT companies, but also in banks, industry and retail.


Sergey Efremov

Why did we choose London University as our partner?

The School of Business Informatics at HSE has been successfully developing projects with overseas partners for many years. This includes a Master’s parallel degree programme, as well as conferences and the joint supervision of student projects. As a result, we have a group of experts capable of putting together such a programme in Management and Digital Innovation.

The parallel degree programme structure, administered jointly with the University of London, already exists at HSE in other specializations (namely, in Economics and International Relations). We are therefore not pioneers in this area, which, I think, is a good thing. British and Russian Bachelor programmes differ significantly in terms of their structure: in Britain, the programme is only 3 years long, as opposed to 4 in Russia, and comprises only 12 units. It doesn’t include some of the features which Russian students are familiar with, such as internships and the final thesis. However, we have combined the best features of both approaches and the result is this new Bachelor’s programme.

The London School of Economics (LSE, the department of the University of London responsible for administering this programme in the UK) is one of the top 10 universities in Business and Management. Hence, having LSE as a partner ensures that the programme and its curriculum meet current the international requirements in this field.

What does our programme have, that others don’t?

The main aim of the programme is to train specialists in the digital transformation of businesses. This is a very hot topic and the necessary skill set of such a specialist is still, to some extent, incomplete, however there are many well-known approaches to training. It includes the Internet of Things, distributed ledger technology and blockchain, big data and the analysis of social networks. As such, the programme curriculum includes units which tackle these new topics. In addition, we look at actual applications of digital technologies, whereby students use them to solve practical tasks. 

The programme structure meets the requirements for a Russian Bachelor’s degree. It comprises four years of study and includes minors, project work and course work. At the end of the 4 years, the students defend their final thesis. This is a requirement to receive the HSE degree in Business Informatics, which is very much in demand by Russian employers.

Job opportunities in the areas of management and digital innovation continue to appear in government agencies, banks, retail chains, construction companies and many other businesses.

A further strength of the programme is the combination of ‘Russian’ and ‘British’ units. From their second year, students take courses in 12 different disciplines offered at LSE in Management and Digital Innovation, according to the LSE format. This course material, as well as the supplementary online course material, is created by our LSE colleagues. In order to obtain the LSE degree at the end of the course, students have to sit exams in all 12 of the LSE disciplines (that is, they sit 4 exams at the end of each year).

To some degree, the first year of the programme is a period of adaptation and includes training in English and the fundamentals of mathematics and information technologies. All students study on a single general track in first year. Students can also choose electives, giving them the opportunity to tailor the course to their specific interests. The skills and knowledge gained enable them to apply for positions which, over the next 10 years, will become the most in-demand positions on the international job market.

Where does ‘business’ come into it?

The School of Business Informatics has strong connections to the business world. It has partnerships with scientific and education centres and collaborations with practically all the big players on the IT market, including IBS, Fors, 1C, Lanit, Croc, Microsoft, SAP, IBM, Oracle, Huawei, Tableau and many more. The School is also a member of academic partnerships. The major involvement of businesses in this programme is something that sets it apart from other courses and gives our students a distinct advantage.

The nature of business involvement is extremely diverse – it includes guest lecturers, master classes, courses taught by business representatives and internships. We believe that the programme should be a healthy combination of input from both academics, and business specialists.

Similarly, leading experts in management and digital innovation will contribute to the programme as members of the academic and supervisory boards.

Who are our students?

Russian applicatns will need to submit the results of the Unified State Exam in three disciplines (Russian, Mathematics and English). There are no other prerequisites for the course. Having said this, due to the fact that the entire programme will be taught in English, we expect a student’s level of English to be above average. At the end of their first year, students sit the IELTS exam and have to score at least a 6, in order to enroll in the second year and begin the LSE part of the programme. International applicants do not need to take the Russian Unified State Exam. They can apply and take exams online.

Mainly, however, we are looking for those individuals who are capable of becoming digerati – that is, members of the digital elite, highly qualified specialists who actively apply an entire range of digital technologies in their work.

What can students expect?

Firstly, we want to give all our students the opportunity to continue their studies with a Master’s programme at HSE. This includes  programmes in the area of Business Informatics (Business Informatics, E-Business, Big Data Systems, Information Security Management) and combined programmes such as Governance of Science, Technology and Innovation and Corporate Research, Development and Innovation Management.

With regard to prospective employment opportunities, it’s important to mention that students, over the course of the 4-year programme build a skill set in business informatics which stands them in good stead to work for both Russian and international IT companies, analytics and internet companies, innovation and venture funds and, of course, if they so wish, to be self-employed in this field.

Graduates will be capable of working as consultants in the latest technology and innovation solutions in IT. They will be able to make recommendations regarding the architecture of digital products and services, monitor the progress of technology projects which introduce new innovations and assess the associated KPIs. They will learn to develop key metrics for new digital technologies that meet a company's business goals, develop and control innovation strategies and promote new products and services. Furthermore, graduates will be able to identify new opportunities for innovation in order to increase business profitability. These skills are in demand not only by IT companies, but also by government bodies, banks, retail chains, construction companies and many other businesses.

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