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Regular version of the site

Back to cooperation origins

The 15-th anniversary of the HSE collaboration with Paris I University (Université Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne), the Paris X University (Universite Paris X Nanterre), and the Sciences Po University (Fondation Nationale des Sciences Politiques Institut d'Etudes Politiques de Paris) was celebrated in Paris. Irene Maltseva, the HSE French Center Head comments on the event.

The traditional French phrase "cherche la femme" is the first thing that comes to mind when you enter the HSE French Center. There is nothing surprising here - for the last decade the French Center has been headed by the charming Irina Maltseva. But she has no time for these personal milestones. There are more significant dates and achievements, such as the 15th anniversary of the HSE collaboration with the Paris I University (Université Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne), the Paris X University (Universite Paris X Nanterre), and the Sciences Po University (Fondation Nationale des Sciences Politiques Institut d'Etudes Politiques de Paris).

Irene Maltseva has just returned from Paris where the anniversary was widely celebrated.

— The celebration of the date was held in both a prominent and a business-like style. And it also was rather untraditional. First of all, we summed up the outcomes of our fifteen year collaboration and provided our French colleagues with reports to be submitted to the French Ministry of Science and Education and to the French Ministry for Foreign Affairs. But, most importantly, we outlined our plans for the future", — I. Maltseva says. We are likely to change the scope of our cooperation within the HSE Faculty of Economics. We hope the Sociology and Law Faculties will be also integrated into our academic collaboration. We discussed opportunities for co-operation with the Paris X Nanterre University which had recently changed both its name (to Paris West) and administration. We are cooperating in the field of Institutional Economics and searching for closer connections in Sociology. Alexander Chepurenko, the HSE Sociology Faculty dean, has already reached some agreements with his French colleagues.

— What about the HSE delegation-group?

— There were twenty members representing three faculties and the HSE administration. Our delegation was headed by Evgeniy Yasin, who gave a comprehensive interview on the current situation in the Russian economy and the impact of the crisis on it. He was interviewed by Matilda Morelle, the French tutor, who has been delivering courses on transitional economy in the HSE for a long time.

The heads of the joint Masters' Programmes and most of the tutors actively involved in the cooperation attended the celebration. Some of them, such as Pierre Coppe, Catherine Saufferre, and Olivier Favrau took part in the French-Russian scientific seminar.

The main purpose of our visit was "the Academic Council session".  It is held each year. But since now two or three year term has installed. Until now, it has been an annual event, however this is about to change. Why? The Academic Council defines the strategic goals for our activity. But minor administrative, financial and other issues are of our concern. The strategy can be planned for a longer period. So we only have to meet once in two or three years. The next meeting will be in 2010.

Were there any other interesting events as part of your visit?

— We held the first French-Russian "Economics and Law in Russia and France" joint seminar where French and Russian lawyers and economists, such as A. Zhalinsky, O. Oleynik, M. Odintsova, O. Ananyin, G. Markou, L. Vidale, P. Coppe, K. Becie and D. Shpirau took part. There are many lawyers in Paris X Nanterre specializing in the Russian judicial system. We want them to participate in our project for legal studies since we are going to strengthen our collaboration with Paris Nanterre.

So we summed up the results of our activity and, at the same time, we prepared the path for future development. We have more projects and prospects, with our plans being as numerous as usual.

Could you mention the most outstanding projects of these fifteen years?

— I think the double-diploma project is the most important achievement of our cooperation.  Within this programme students of the HSE Faculty of Economics visit Paris for a semester as part of the second year of the Masters' Programme to defend their thesis. They have an opportunity to obtain two national diplomas: Russian and French, with French diploma being "original", not a special certificate for foreigners. A Paris-I diploma has always been as prestigious as the "grande ecoles" diplomas. After disintegration of the Sorbonne in 1968 French universities are starting to be really autonomous recently. They created the so-called Paris School of Economics integrating other economic universities. But that's a different topic!

When the opportunity to receive a real French diploma is obvious are the HSE students tempted to stay in France?

— Many of our students with French diploma remain in Paris. But only in order to continue their studies as post-graduate students. This opportunity must be also mentioned among our achievements. Six of our post-graduates passed through their viva procedure in Paris I. I consider this to be very important. Some of them, such as Nikolay Arefiev with his course on macroeconomics, are teaching at the HSE. Some, like Konstantin Arshakuni, are working in Moscow successfully. Some, like Ekaterina Kalugina, became tutors in France. All these are examples of our post-graduates' the success. Some more students are writing their dissertations in French universities, including Paris X.

Within our visit a round table meeting with our post-graduates was held. They reported on their research. New PhDs also spoke at the meeting.

Our students visit Paris regularly.  What about students from France seeking to study at the HSE?

— French students come to us. There are very few of them, unfortunately. Mostly, these are Sciences Po University students attending the Faculty of Political Science. We had few students at the faculties of economics and management. But most of them are Russian - speaking students. By the way, Paris I is searching for students who studied Russian at school. But for foreign students going to the HSE we have to offer programmes in English.

Is French the only language of tuition in France?

— Of course, a certain level of French is obligatory. But there can be some exceptions within the program and students without a relevant knowledge of French are admitted. But it is impossible to visit Paris without basic French. Students are also able to attend lectures in English. In this case curricula will be limited but there is the possibility to study in English. We give our students the opportunity to write diplomas in English since we don't wish any linguistic restrictions. The embassy doesn't ask them to prove their French-speaking abilities, even for French government grants.  

Are scholarships available for our students?

— The French government grants scholarships. 8-10 grants have been given for economists in recent years. But most students don't receive any.

What are the requirements for HSE students to become participants in the programme?

— Some conditions are posed. Firstly, the student must be successful in university studies. Secondly, two languages are as a must. There are some more requirements to receive a scholarship. But it is possible to participate in the program without grants. This year some students studied abroad without grants.

The HSE delegation and the French partners in Paris
The HSE delegation and the French partners in Paris
But there is one more point of great importance.  The theme of the Masters` research must be relevant to the Paris curriculum. Sometimes there is no need to visit Paris at all. In some cases information and materials are more widely available in Russia.

Was it Russian or French side to initiate universities cooperation during 15 years within the program?

— Some words about origins, I suppose? When the HSE was being established, the French government and the European Committee's grants and the TASIS`s programs were available to us. Thank to this support our tutors were admitted for training in France. Later, our students also received similar opportunities. In the beginning there were only training-courses. But soon it became clear that larger cooperation was necessary.

In 2000 joint double-diploma programmes were developed. The practice of training-courses abroad has not been neglected. But it was focused on scientific purposes. Some courses were not available at the time the HSE was being established. Tutors from France taught on undergraduate courses at the Faculty of Economics. Later, our tutors replaced foreigners and the HSE Faculty of Economics was strengthened.

Afterwards, the amount of curricula, text-books, and readers were developed. Professors from France come to us but there are few of them - only five per year at the Faculty of Economics. They visit us as the judiciary board members to attend our students' diploma defenses in Moscow. But they also teach scientific courses in order our to strengthen students` ability to undertake research activity.

I suppose that the main objective of our activity - to develop research - oriented undergraduate courses and courses for a higher stage has been fulfilled. Now we concentrate our efforts on developing joint scientific research, issues, and scientific ties as well. Today our main concern is connected with workshops, and interdisciplinary studies with interaction between lawyers and economists. We are also going to develop curricula for students.

Any occasional thoughts and proposals after this visit?

— Representatives of the Higher Education and Science Ministry of France and the Ministry of Foreign Affaires attended our Academic Council. According to the bilateral agreement between our governments the 2010 has been declared the Year of France in Russia and Russian year in France. The Higher Education and Science Ministry of France has asked us to make proposals for joint round-table meetings. Probably, scientific conferences also will be held.

This is very interesting!

— We are worried about this. Our French counterparts proposed that our students visit France for a full year instead of half a year. For such achievements, extra efforts are needed. It is necessary to scrutinize our curricula. But I suppose the choice must be left for students during the one or two year transitional period. We can let our students visit for one year or half a year. It is a chance to get a French diploma after half a year of studying.

I mustn't ignore the "Legal support for economic activity" innovative program for lawyers that started this year. French professors attend the department with lecture - courses on French Economic Law. But it differs greatly from the early stages of cooperation. Then they only taught introductory courses. Today they present original courses on economic, commercial, fiscal, common, and contract law. Students have to pass exams after each stage. Successful students can obtain the 1st stage Masters` degree without visiting Paris. But the best of the best - I believe the French Embassy grants them scholarship - will be admitted to study in Paris for the second term to obtain diploma in judiciary and, may be, become post-graduates. There is one post graduate student of the kind at the HSE Faculty of Law.

The cooperation project gets a second wind, I suppose. We traveled abroad, returned and thought about the prospects.

Generally speaking, there are things to celebrate.

— There are achievements we are proud of. At least, representatives of the Higher Education and Science Ministry of France mentioned our project as a pattern for French citizens in Paris and the French Embassy to Russia. I hope we gave a good account of ourselves.   


Ekaterina Berezner for the HSE News service