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HSE Gears up for Staff and Student Conference: A Look Back at Extracurricular Activities

On March 20, a conference for HSE staff and students will take place at HSE. It will consider the university’s development programme and elect the new Academic Council. The previous conference took place five years ago, in 2014, and the university has changed a lot since then. HSE News Service talked with some of the university leaders about how their own work at the University has changed over this period.

Today, the HSE News Service spoke with Vice Rector Valeria Kasamara about how things have changed in HSE extracurricular life.


Valeria Kasamara

What’s the main difference between the extracurricular life of HSE in 2014 and now?

First, HSE is getting bigger: over the past five years, the total number of students has almost doubled—while we had around 24,000 enrolled students in 2014, now we have about 40,000.

This is great, but it requires new approaches, especially in student initiative support. In response to these challenges we established the Student Project Contest and HSEcoin. For three years now HSE student curators have been helping our new students get to know HSE's environment and culture. More than 400 senior students of all faculties and programmes meet first-year students and help them to adapt.

As a scholar, I’m glad that more and more students are getting involved in research at HSE. In 2014 only 5% of first-year bachelor’s students and 28% of first-year master’s students were engaged in research. Now these percentages have increased to 18% and 35%, respectively. When students are involved, even exact science becomes creative — that’s how we launched our popular science projects, such as Lunokhod festival and Science Battles.

But one thing remains unchanged - HSE students sleep less (much less than their foreign peers) and study a lot.

What has been the main achievement over this time?

The main achievement, in my opinion, is that we have managed to preserve a friendly environment that encourages the development of student initiatives and projects.

In addition, over the past five years, HSE has truly become a ‘university open to the city’. We are glad that student projects adopt this corporate value: an eco-friendly ‘Green HSE’, the charitable ‘Open Your Eyes’,  and the educational ‘Science Battles’ projects have emerged. All these projects have something to offer people both inside and outside the university.

I think student organisations are another undisputed achievement of HSE, which, despite all the difficulties of the transition period, remain a model for other universities. This is demonstrated both in the elections, which are held with the use of blockchain for the second year in a row, and in the meaningful co-management of the university.

What’s the main failure?

Every year our students have the opportunity to participate in all areas of extracurricular life, except one — creative outlets. Although HSE has a wonderful theatre and orchestra, we understand that the infrastructure we have for students' creative endeavors is far from perfect. There is lack of space for dance, music and other clubs, and the existing ones don’t meet university standards. We hope that as soon as the cultural centre on Pokrovka opens, the situation will start to change for the better.

Although HSE has more than 20 clubs and the largest football league, it is still difficult for us to compare HSE with international or Russian universities that have athletic infrastructures of the 20th century.

What would you say to yourself and your colleagues if you were to go back to 2014?

In 2018 students will ask us to invite Valery Meladze to HSE Day.

What is HSE’s main goal for the next five years?

HSE is not just growing every year, it is constantly changing. The most ambitious people of their generation come here, but they are completely different in their views, interests and life goals, and this is normal. Therefore, our main goal is to come up with meaningful and effective mechanisms that will support HSE values and bring everyone together — students, staff and graduates — not just as a community, but as a club of like-minded people.

The conference agenda has been approved by the Academic Council and includes the following items:

  • Review of the report on the ‘HSE Development Programme for 2009–2015 and up to 2020’ and discussion of its progress since 2014;
  • Discussion of the key points in the HSE University Development Programme up to 2030;
  • Election of the HSE Academic Council;
  • Election of a representative body representing the interests of HSE staff.

When and where will it take place?

The conference will take place on March 20, 2019, at 1pm, in the HSE building on 57 Trifonovskaya Ulitsa, Moscow (Conference Hall).


Photos: HSE

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