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‘Client-Oriented Approach to Our International Applicants’

HSE Rector Nikita Anisimov

HSE Rector Nikita Anisimov
© HSE University

HSE Rector Nikita Anisimov joined the university in July 2021. In an exclusive interview to RBC he spoke about the important events that have happened at HSE University since then, whether it was necessary to quit the Bologna system, and how to attract international students to Russian universities. Here, HSE News Service publishes some of the highlights of this interview.

Not Exactly Changes, but Progress

Speaking of the changes over the last year, I would say if a lot has changed, it means that something is wrong, because universities make long-term plans. It is more important to look at what has happened over the past year since I started working at HSE University. In the federal competition ‘Priority 2030’, HSE University entered the leading group on the research track - this means success for the entire university team. We won a big federal project—the Artificial Intelligence Centre. We established three international laboratories in engineering and natural science fields at the Faculty of Geography and Geoinformation Technology and the Moscow Institute of Electronics and Mathematics.

Our campuses in other cities are rapidly developing

This year HSE University in Perm enrolled their first lyceum students. The government has decided to finance large-scale reconstruction on Vasilievsky Island in St Petersburg for HSE University in St Petersburg. Literally within two years, we will have a wonderful campus there, and I invite everyone to visit it.

Over the past year, we have got a lot of new partners and opened new departments. Together with Tinkoff we have just opened a new department at our Faculty of Computer Science. It’s another opportunity for our students to work in a large technology company. And of course, it is a year of celebration for us. This year HSE University turns 30. We have already organised a lot of festivities, with plenty still to take place. And of course, I would like to congratulate every single member of our team, everyone who is related to HSE University, and everyone who will be joining in with this holiday!

Russia Quitting the Bologna System

Russia’s decision to quit the Bologna system has raised a lot of questions among students and applicants. The Bologna system represents an element of competitiveness that Europe created in the late 1990s and early 2000s. When the Russian Federation was part of the Bologna system, it was an attempt to enter into a system of competition with other educational systems in order to gather together the most talented students from other countries so that they could continue to work in the economy of a united Europe. Now we quit the Bologna system, in order to cancel some agreements, but also to create a sovereign system of competition for talent.

We must understand that the mission and purpose of education is above education per se. We create the future

And to do this, we need to look into the future, see what it will be like and build an education system.

And if other education systems are built in such a way that they, let’s say, hunt for the best graduates of schools, for example, in China, India, or Indonesia, we must make our system understandable for these international students, so that they clearly see that they can join an educational system in which they will truly gain competitive advantages.

It requires an adjustment of immigration legislation and many other legislative acts. This is a complex, multi-level process, but I see that preparations to alter this legislation are already underway, with professional expert groups working on this. HSE experts are involved in some of these groups. And I think that in the near future we will learn about certain outlines of the new educational system.

We must understand that young people coming from abroad to study in Russia are people for whom client-centricity is very important.

We must consider the international students’ life trajectory within each institution they contact, ie not only universities, but also the system of residence and visa support, as well as further employment and diploma recognition

This is a complex, multi-factor process, and we should take a very client-oriented approach to our international applicants. While introducing our sovereign system of higher education to them, we should first think about making it as comfortable as possible for them to get degree in our country, say that it is the best in the world, and invite their younger brothers and sisters, the students who study at the school they graduated from, to study here. This word-of-mouth system is very common worldwide.

International Admissions: New Challenges

Admission is still underway till November. From what I see, for example, with regard to quota recruitment, the quotas by Rossotrudnichestvo, by the Ministry of Science and Higher Education, and intergovernmental agreements — everything is working as it should, and all regulations are being observed.

We see that the increased government quotas in our country are in demand among international students

But there are two different trends. There are universities that offer education in Russian. There have been no major upheavals for students who speak Russian and who come to study in Russian: they continue to come here, and I don't see a big change in this trend.

However, there are universities that implement programmes in English. For example, there are dozens of HSE programmes implemented entirely in English. And students for whom English is their native language, including students from European countries used to come to study here. We have to wait until November for admission to English-language programmes, but the risks are obvious. We need to make sure of the stability of the education system as a whole, in the ability to convert degrees in those states that we now consider unfriendly and, of course, at the moment, the flow of applicants from there is minimal for obvious reasons.

We can’t say that nothing has changed for international students this year

And as a person who worked for five years at a university in the Far East with a large number of international students, I understand how important it is for international students to see attention being paid to them, attention to how they become part of the university-wide family, their interest in making the educational process internationally interesting, internationally competitive. This is what HSE University has always been known for.

We are famous for the fact that all our degree programmes are internationally competitive, which is confirmed, among other things, by double degree programmes with leading international universities.

For example, we have implemented double degree programmes with universities in South Korea and Hong Kong. Students go on long-term internships in South Korea, as part of our agreements. We are currently negotiating with a number of other Asian countries including India, Indonesia, and China. I am sure that we can offer quality and competitive double degree programmes with these universities, many of which are among the leaders in various world rankings.

Most European universities are also providing opportunities for our students to continue their studies at their universities.

Our university hasn’t initiated termination of cooperation in the educational sphere. If someone takes an unconstructive position, we’ll take it into account and cut these ties. But for our part, we try to provide our students with the education they expected when they applied for the programmes.

They expected a certain quality of education and, of course, they will get it

Three Advantages of Russian Education

I would like to outline three key advantages of education in Russia. The first advantage is its fundamental nature. Secondly, our education features very strong academic institutions. The creation of new, advanced and critical technologies is based on them. And the third advantage is a rich cultural tradition of teaching. By creating universities in each region, we have created, on the one hand, an original, and on the other hand, experienced, culture that is passed on. And very importantly, it is a sustainable system.

The full version of the interview in Russian is available here.

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