HSE ISSEK’s Newly Accredited Master’s in Management: ‘It’s Challenging, but It Pays Off in the End’
In December 2021, the HSE ISSEK English-language Master’s programme in Governance of Science, Technology and Innovation became one of three HSE University management programmes to receive European accreditation by the European Foundation for Management Development. We spoke to Dirk Meissner, the academic supervisor of the programme, about the significance of European accreditation, the programme’s unique opportunities for students, and student engagement in research.
Head of the HSE ISSEK Laboratory for Economics of Innovation,
Academic Supervisor of the Governance of Science, Technology and Innovation Master’s programme
It is particularly important that our programme has received international accreditation as a master’s in Management. We were accredited by the European Foundation for Management Development (EFMD) for the next three years, which is a clear sign that we are in line with global standards and deliver high quality education and training which is recognized in the world.
For many years we have four double degree options: with universities in Berlin, Seoul, Torino, and Maastricht. These foreign universities would not have concluded double degree agreements with us if we didn’t deliver quality education.
So, we already have evidence of the strength and reputation of our programme. But the accreditation is further proof of the quality of ISSEK, teaching and research which we perfectly combine.
Four professors from EFMD rigorously inspected all aspects of our programme over three days to determine our strengths and weaknesses. They found more strengths. In the end, they assessed the programme as above average in most parameters (there are 60 criteria all in all), with 20% of criteria assessed as above standard.
This makes the programme more attractive to students, and it shows that our diploma is recognized globally.
Our programme was launched in 2014. While we didn’t think about accreditation at all back then, we have applied common international standards and practices from the very beginning. So, we decided to apply for accreditation two years ago.
From the beginning, we introduced internships. This made us different from many other HSE programmes. I said that the internship had to be 10 weeks and full time like a full time employee in the hosting organization working 8 hours a day. Many other programmes had much shorter internships, but I said that if you don’t work eight hours, it’s not an internship. If you work two hours, it’s just for fun, and we have to be very serious about this. We also invited a lot of guest lecturers to teach our courses.
Our programme has a chapter dedicated to ethics and ethical behavior. When it comes to group work with 3–5 students working on one topic, we ask the students about their contribution. Sometimes when students give a presentation of group work, only two students present, not all of them. Students who do not present any outcomes are given a failing grade. If you have a group of three students where only two work and the third just rewrites, that’s a problem.
I consider this to be preparation for practical work after graduation. Here at university, you can make a mistake. But if you make a mistake once and don’t learn from it, it’s your problem.
Learn from mistakes and be ready to accept that you’re not perfect and can improve. That is one of the core values of our programme.
If you make such mistakes when training for a corporate company, you might have to look for a new job after that. We tell this to students clearly and we follow these rules strictly.
We are here to provide training and teaching. We expect students to respect us as we respect them. It should be mutual. We’re for transparency, which means I tell students the reason why I give a certain grade and why they don’t meet the standards. We don’t sit behind closed doors and say: ‘You pass, you don’t pass.’
We treat everyone equally. This is an important issue—equal treatment of all students regardless of their gender, origins, etc.
During every application period, we have interviews with all interested applicants. The interviews are conducted by a committee of 2–3 teachers. It’s always a mixed-gender committee with teachers of different nationalities to get a broader picture and to avoid certain biases. We should treat our applicants and students the way we want to be treated by them.
- Our alumni survey shows that 95% of our graduates are employed. And their salaries are 3–4 times higher than the Russian average.
- About 70% of our graduates receive a promotion within two years of graduating. So, our alumni go on to have good jobs and good careers.
- Most of them (90%) see the study programme and the teachers as challenging, but it really pays off in the end.
What’s New in the Programme?
We are introducing a stronger focus on sustainability, which is a major issue now. And we are focusing more on digital businesses. We will introduce some additional courses regarding sustainable thinking, which should be included in management practices.
We also have something unique to HSE University: a joint course between HSE and the University of Campinas (Brazil).
Teachers come from Campinas, and students of both universities take the course together. After the course, HSE students get credits. It’s an online course. There’s a 6-hour time difference, so the course starts at 6 pm at HSE and 12 am in São Paulo, and it creates an international student cohort. It’s a wonderful experience for our students, as the Campinas students have a slightly different way of expressing themselves. They have this intercultural experience; they learn by doing. This is our first experience of having students from two universities in online courses.
Online courses provide more flexibility to exchange courses with other universities. With such courses, we do not have to invite teachers to teach at our university. We just say: ‘The course you have is wonderful, it’s good. Let’s share it with our students, let’s bring both student cohorts together in one course. That’s a real multinational course crossing geographical borders and mental borders. This is real internationalisation and globalisation.’
We have restarted our mentoring programme. One professor supervises five students during their studies. I think the main duty of a mentor is to put questions to students and provide advice when they have problems. They’re more like sparring partners than a student and a teacher.
We want to deliver substance, not marketing. We know our reputation: we’re challenging, but you’ll really appreciate it later.
Ties with Research Labs
We have two labs in ISSEK: the Laboratory for Economics of Innovation and the Laboratory for Science and Technology Studies. They were established in 2010 among the first international laboratories at HSE University. Several researchers from our international labs also teach on the programme. This overlap makes it easier for us to attract good foreign teachers to our programme and combine the research and education tracks.
When students are writing their master’s thesis at the end of their studies, we don’t give them a title or tell them where the problem is. We give them a topic and they start looking for the problem themselves and they have to justify why this is a problem before they search for a sloution. That’s exactly what they will need to do every day in their jobs, so this skill is essential.
The duty of our labs is to publish research results. Every publication starts by finding a problem, describing the problem, and justifying why it is a problem. This is our everyday job, and our students sometimes get involved in our projects.
It’s important that our labs and the programme accreditation go hand in hand because we share the same common features.
The climate and the culture inside the institute give us freedom and create an environment that attracts different people and competences.
Admissions to HSE’s Bachelor's and Master’s programmes are now open. International students can apply online. Submit your application early to qualify for a full-tuition scholarship.
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