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'Vyshka' Doesn’t Want to Get Too Big

In an interview with Bolshoi Gorod magazine HSE Rector Yaroslav Kuzminov talked to Yevgeni Nasyrov about what lies ahead for “Vyshka”

YN: How is “Vyshka” going to develop in the future?

YK: This year MIEM, the Moscow Institute of Electronics and Mathematics has become a part of HSE. We have accrued engineers and in over the next five years we will build an international school of engineering. There aren’t any in Russia to speak of at the moment. It’s a complicated and expensive thing to do. We spent a long time weighing up our options before we agreed to the integration. But finally we decided to do it. Firstly, engineers are close to us psychologically – the economists and sociologists at HSE, are creating projects to deal with real situations, not studying abstract ideas. Secondly, MIEM’s field clearly has a future. It’s about where engineering meets IT and mathematical modelling – what we call engineering models, applied mathematics in all kinds of areas, space exploration and defence research.  Thirdly, MIEM is a proper Higher Education Institute. It’s not the kind of place where students can buy a diploma - they really have to work for it. Their equipment though is very poor, antiquated even. But, if you drop in on a Saturday at five in the evening, people are there working in the labs. We are delighted to have new colleagues like that.   

The second strand of our development is the Institute for Educational Studies, directed by Isak Froumin. It offers teaching programmes which have grown out of our research in education. We have a team working on the curriculum, approaches to teaching, educational statistics, measuring standards and psychology. They cover a lot of ground. And the institute has just opened Master’s programmes for educational managers on measuring teaching standards, and for teachers.

And then there’s the third strand. It’s a block of arts - media technology, including journalism, media management, and presentation technology. And also what’s called integrated communications – PR and GR, plus marketing impressions and design. In the next decade developing this strand is going to be a priority for us – there’s a great deal of interest. A lot of fee-paying students are applying which shows that the demand is high. We’ll be building on our international partnerships and programmes in this field. 

And yes, actually, there is a fourth area which is going to develop at a rate, outstripping everything else – that’s mathematics. We have a very strong mathematics department by international standards. It includes students and teachers from abroad. We are on an equal footing with the leading universities in the West and with MGU (Moscow State University). Our mathematics faculty is “cutting edge”. It can become a world leader and develop in cooperation with the leading institutes of the Russian Academy of Sciences; the Steklov Institute of Mathematics and the Institute of Information Transmission Problems.

YN: All these are examples of how things which are already up and running are going to develop, but do you have any completely new projects in the pipeline?

YK: Well, yes, but we’ve only just begun with the things that I’ve been talking about. It’ll take 10 years of investment in them to reach our goals.

As for really new stuff, we are talking about setting up an institute of architecture. As they say, one thing leads to another. We already have our Graduate School of Urban Studies and we are working on design. It would be logical to add two other programmes – architecture and art criticism. It looks like they will be starting in the next five years.

But “Vyshka” doesn’t want to get too big. We already have 17,000 students in Moscow and 10,000 auditors. That really is a lot. Take Harvard, Stanford or the LSE, they have about the same numbers or fewer. We won’t get smaller. The demand is very high and our Bachelor’s programmes are very strong. But we don’t want to grow in different sectors, at least, not in the next five years. We have had proposals from physicists and medics and we are having discussions with them but right now it’s too early to say what the outcome might be.

Translation of interview in “Bolshoi Gorod” magazine, 6th December 2012

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