International Student Association Expanding its Presence at HSE
The HSE Association of Students and Alumni of the CIS and Baltic Countries is expanding its presence and is currently transforming into the International Student Association. The Association invites all foreign students to join, not only those from CIS countries, but from the non-CIS as well. Below, the Association’s Chairperson, Tatyana Egai, and Deputy Chairman Alexei Belov, tell us what the Association is currently involved in.
‘Our student organisation was created by people from different countries with varying interests and diverse goals,’ Egai comments. ‘We were all at one time applicants who wanted to come “conquer” HSE, but we ran into problems with adapting to the big city and to our new status as a foreign citizen studying on a Russian government scholarship (‘quota’). Now, we want to share our experience and help new students from the CIS, Baltics, and beyond. We want to help them overcome the difficulties they might encounter during their time at the university.’
The International Student Association helps students resolve all issues related to academia. For instance, not many know that if a foreign student is having problems passing exams, he or she is able to transfer into an individual curriculum for free. In this case, the student goes into their next year, keeping their state-sponsored spot, but they have one year to learn the material again and retake the exams. In this case, the international student can ask for help finding a tutor or, conversely, offer help to other students (the Association has a database of tutors). An academic consultant can also be requested within a faculty. The Association’s tutors can make suggestions to international students on where to direct specific administrative questions or where to turn to when they need to resolve issues with their instructors, programme offices, or deans’ offices.
Students can also turn to the Association's team for help with problems related to housing, medical care, scholarships, or material help. ‘Oftentimes, people just don’t know they’re eligible for certain aid or for a larger scholarship,’ Deputy Chairman Alexei Belov notes. ‘We’ve talked to the Centre for Scholarship and Charitable Programmes, and are now ready to consult other students as well.’
The Association also carries out various events unrelated to academics, one example being career seminars to help foreign students find work in Russia. These seminars give international students the opportunity to learn more about key immigration rules, and they help students avoid fines, deportation, and future bans from entering Russia. In addition, the Association regularly carries out cultural events devoted to different countries. At such events, foreign students and faculty members give lectures and talk about their native countries. It has been decided that starting next year, the Association will hold a ‘Culture Café’ that was first suggested and tested in early December by the International Student Support. Starting in January 2016, the Culture Café will be one of the regular projects the Association carries out. The International Student Association is also planning to show various foreign films and will host the large event ‘Whole World at One HSE’ in the spring, in which all international students are invited to take part. Egai and Belov are currently accepting applications.
The Association will take part in student government as well; two representatives from CIS countries and one from the non-CIS will serve as representatives on the university’s Student Council. International students are already members of the student councils of many HSE dormitories, and a student from Turkey has already become the student council president at Dormitory 4.
The Association has big plans for development. A special dual-language manual will be created for international freshmen and applicants, as just one example. In it, you can find information related to three main areas: first, how to prepare for your admissions interview and how to write a statement of purpose; second, what to do if you’re accepted – which documents to bring to Moscow, where and when to arrive, how to move into your dormitory; and third, how to begin your studies, manage your time, and succeed after your first set of exams. Students can also go to the Association’s VKontakte group for answers to any of the questions mentioned above. Association representatives will ensure that the page contains information not only in Russian, but in English as well. In the future, the Association will also work closely with International Admissions, International Student Support, and the Buddy Network.