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Graduates of HSE ICEF Receive Degrees in Ceremony at British Ambassador Residence

Graduates of HSE University’s International College of Economics and Finance (ICEF) traditionally receive their degrees against a backdrop of grand fireplaces, an oak staircase, and a balcony overlooking the Kremlin. This is because the ICEF holds its commencement ceremony at the British ambassador’s residence on the Sofiyskaya Embankment. And this is not by accident. Graduates of the ICEF’s bachelor’s programme receive two degrees from HSE and the University of London, respectively, while graduates of the ICEF’s Master’s Programme in ‘Financial Economics’ receive a degree from HSE and the London School of Economics. This year marked the ICEF’s 19th commencement ceremony.

The 19th graduation ceremony of bachelors and masters of ICEF


Bachelor’s programme


Master’s programme


Holders of bachelor’s degrees with first-class honours from the University of London


ICEF Director Sergey Yakovlev not only congratulated the graduates, but also revealed a secret about the years-long collaboration between the ICEF, LSE, and UL.

This year we have an unprecedented number of graduates who completed their studies with first-class honours and received offers from Western universities but chose to pursue their master’s studies at the ICEF and other schools of HSE

Professor Yakovlev noted that this fact attests to the growing strength of HSE programmes as well as their relevance vis-à-vis the current demands of the world’s labour market. But this was not always the case. ‘I will tell you a little secret. After our first year, our bachelor’s students failed the exam. Our colleagues from London warned us that if that happened again, they would discontinue our cooperation. But by working together, we overcame these problems, and the success of our students today is clear. And this was all possible thanks to the support, understanding, trust, and cooperation between our universities,’ he said.

Deputy Director of the London School of Economics (LSE) David Webb, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University of London (LU) Mary Stiasny, and new Vice-Chancellor of the University of London Wendy Thomson also took part in the ceremony and delivered congratulatory speeches.

British Ambassador Laurie Bristow noted the historical importance of the moment and place: the mansion has hosted Winston Churchill in 1944, as well as Queen Elizabeth II in 1994. ‘You are now part of the history of this building,’ Ambassador Bristow said.

Vice-Chancellor Wendy Thomson spoke about the new courses that the University of London has opened on Coursera, the importance of IT skills, as well as the comprehensive development of students and the movement of fundamental education towards life-learning. ‘The world is changing economically, technically and socially. You must be critical of global change, make sense of the new reality, and no matter what, succeed in your chosen areas to make this world a better place. The support and development of values ​​is possible through the brilliant specialists that you are today,’ said the vice-chancellor.

You are the next generation of leaders. We are proud of you

LSE Deputy Director David Webb also spoke about the great successes of the graduates and the skills that will help shape the new Russian economy. ‘The world is changing rapidly. New technologies and business models are emerging, but for you this is not a world of risks, but a world of opportunities. Do not be afraid: you can shape the future, and believe me, you will succeed.’ Mr. Webb was supported by another guest of the ceremony, Mikhail Zadornov, a member of the Supervisory Board of the Higher School of Economics and Chairman of the Board of Otkritie Bank. Mr. Zadornov noted that it is precisely specialists like today’s graduates from the ICEF that the Russian economy needs most. He also invited graduates to join the growing field of finance.

Five years ago, our financial sector lagged behind that of the United States, but now we are competing with the world's leading retail banks, as we work at the intersection of finance and IT technology

Most ICEF graduates will begin their careers in international companies based in Russia and abroad, but more than 40% of bachelor’s graduates will continue their studies at the master’s and doctoral levels at leading universities in the West and in Russia. Vice-Rector Vadim Radaev noted this positive fact as he congratulated the graduates. ‘All good things come to an end at some point — including your studies. And you’re probably sad that you didn’t get the chance to study at the new university complex on Pokrovka. Don’t lose touch with the university. Come study in our master’s programmes.  And, of course, wherever you work or study, our doors are always open for you.’

At the commencement ceremony, graduates heard many important farewell remarks on a range of topics: the Russian economy, which is in need of a new generation of experts; the new digital age; the fruitful collaborative partnership between the universities; and the crucial role graduates play in the modern global community as bearers of important values.

What do the 2019 ICEF graduates themselves have to say about their studies at HSE? What will they take away from their double degree programmes, and how do they see their future?


Maria Lycheva,
Bachelor's graduate with honours from HSE University and first-class honours from the University of London

Jobs in the financial sector are now in high demand, and, as a high school student, I wanted to find a programme with an international profile. At the ICEF, instruction is in English, and you learn applied skills. The undergraduate programme lays the foundation for a successful career. Not to mention the fact that the ICEF holds a massive number of events held by potential employers. In short, I knew I wanted to come to HSE as early as the ninth grade.

After the first months of my studies, I stopped thinking of English as a second language. This skill, along with this degree, makes it possible to get a good job abroad. I can judge my level of language proficiency by my experience at the LSE Summer School and preparing for the CFA exam – I felt confident among the international students and experienced professionals there.

After graduating from the ICEF, you can pursue a career not only in business, but also in academia. There are in-depth programs (such as ICEF Academia), various electives, and talented teachers who provide you a strong academic foundation. I am grateful to ICEF for the rigorous education I received, its energizing atmosphere that made me want to grow and improve, and the summer schools at LSE that encourage students in their pursuit of new levels of knowledge.

Now, having completed my undergraduate studies, I want to continue my studies in the field, while my knowledge is fresh. Moreover, ICEF keeps me on my toes with its constant deadlines, intensive programme, and other features that make you work more efficiently and test your time management skills. And to be honest, I just want to continue my studies with such motivating people. Therefore, my main plan is to continue my studies in the master’s programme while working in the financial sector.

Anna Ivanova,
Graduate of the bachelor’s and master’s programs

Studying at the ICEF gives students an understanding and the ability to solve even the most difficult task. I also earned my bachelor’s degree from the ICEF, so I was very familiar with the educational process – studying in English, the large homework load, the importance of preparing for exams during the module, etc. In Russia there are not many master's programmes that can maintain such a high bar at the undergraduate level.  The ICEF has a lot of courses on current issues taught by active people from the industry. During my studies, I chose the Risk Management II course, taught by Professor Dzhangir Dzhangirov, and lectures were given by the heads of various Sberbank teams. The course changed my perception of ​​Sberbank - I saw the spark in the speakers’ eyes when they came to our class after their workday, bringing real tasks that they had solved with their colleagues mere hours before. In general, the ICEF offers a wide selection of courses. You can gain expertise in IB or consulting, or prepare for a PhD programme.

Now I myself work at Sberbank. I work in the area of market risks as part of the IPV (independent price verification) team. On the side, I also teach a seminar on the Elements of Econometrics and Investment Management in the ICEF Bachelor's programme on Saturdays. I like to combine work in the bank with teaching: interacting with students motivates me to learn new things and to not stop there. I remember we complained to Professor Maxim Nikitin about the amount of assignments we were always given. He replied that ICEF students need not only be able to complete all of their assignments on time but to pursue job opportunities, have hobbies, and not forget about their personal lives. And this was exactly my situation. Life was overflowing! Of course, managing everything would not have been possible without support from my friends. It is the people at the ICEF that I especially remember – they are smart, kind, versatile, purposeful, responsive, real, and always willing to help.  I remember the students, the teachers, and the education I received. To current and future ICEF students I would like to say that ICEF can really give you a lot – not only knowledge, but also soft skills, professional contacts, and true friends. Make the most of it!

Denis Sosinsky,
Bachelor’s graduate with first-class honours from the University of London

Not a single year of my studies at the ICEF has passed without any changes or innovations within the faculty. My first year turned out to be especially significant; that was when I attended the Advanced Research Programme Conference, which was held for the first time that year. Thanks to that experience, I became interested in research, and by my second year I myself was presenting at the ARP.

The rich research environment at the ICEF allowed me to clarify my goals and objectives regarding continuing my education by the beginning of my 4th year.  In addition, I had a more than sufficient theoretical foundation in mathematics and economics, as well as the support of my professors. Together, that gave me an advantage over a lot of other PhD programme applicants. I got accepted to a number of PhD programmes in the USA. Among these, I chose the one that I think is the best fit for me – the PhD programme in Economics at the University of California, Davis.

I gained important teaching experience at the ICEF Evening School. I thank the institute for the atmosphere, the level of preparation for studying abroad, for the scholarly inspiration, and the special support we received from our teachers. I am proud to be a graduate of ICEF and wish the faculty to continue to experiment and change, always for the better.

See also:

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‘The Opportunity to Study at an International Level Has Played a Major Role in My Career’

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‘I Studied as an International Student at ICEF, but Never Felt Like One’

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HSE University Graduates Share Their Thoughts on Working Abroad

At a recent webinar of the Master’s programme ‘Financial Economics’, held at ICEF (International College of Economics and Finance), presenters explained why the programme is unique and what sort of career prospects are open to alumni. Graduates of the programme, working at major global companies, shared their personal experiences, spoke about the key benefits of training and gave valuable advice to those preparing to work in international companies.

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'After ICEF, It’s Easy to Enter a Western University because You’ve Already Studied in an International Environment'

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