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'We’re Moving On to the Next Stage of Digital Transformation'

'We’re Moving On to the Next Stage of Digital Transformation'

© HSE University

Dmitry Bondar has served as Senior Director for Digital Transformation at HSE University since January 2021. Since then, the university has introduced and developed numerous new, state-of-the-art information systems. Dmitry Bondar is responsible for ensuring high rates of digital transformation and the good performance of HSE's IT Office. In his interview, he speaks about the integration of new information systems, project management at the IT Office, import substitution in IT, engaging with students, and plans for the current year.

— HSE is a university committed to continually improving its digital environment. What new information systems have been launched in the past year?  

— Currently, the university is working to automate its primary business processes in a comprehensive manner. In 2022, several teams collaborated to implement a number of systems, including those for managing admissions, engaging with partners, applicants and contractors, developing academic programmes, and handling procurement and financial accounting.

Our plans for this year include the implementation of several new foundational systems, such as HSE.Reg for managing student records, the Marketplace for educational products, MVP for continuing professional education, microdegree and online courses, the Joint Economic and Social Archive platform for consolidating research across various fields of science, and SmartPro, a system for automating students’ practical training. In fact, we are nearing completion of the comprehensive automation stage. This will stabilise the university's IT landscape, enabling us to advance to the next stage of digital transformation.

— What challenges do you anticipate the IT Office will encounter along the way?

— The previous stage was the most challenging one for the university. During that period, the new interfaces did not necessarily provide benefits for regular users; on the contrary, they could instead add complexity to their work. However, advancing to the next stage would have been impossible without the development and implementation of foundational information systems. The work ahead will be equally labour-intensive, but this time, the changes will have a more substantial impact on both the university's overall performance and individual users.

© Daniil Prokofyev/ HSE University

'We need to be pioneers in the implementation and application of domestically produced digital solutions'

— Import substitution in IT is a major priority for Russian universities today. What processes have been initiated at HSE in this regard and which ones do you anticipate will start shortly?

— Currently, the university is confronted with the unavailability of services and software from foreign manufacturers, coupled with an increase in legislative measures that require the use of domestic IT solutions. Often, we need to be pioneers in the implementation and application of domestically produced digital solutions in the educational process.

In January 2023, the IT Office uploaded a section to the HSE University's website with a list of digital services to be replaced by domestically developed solutions and the current status of their substitution

'Future human resources for the Digital Economy'

— The IT Office is a major employer. Can you tell us about your projects that aim to involve HSE students?

— Students are the most valuable resource of any university. We are particularly committed to engaging proactively with the student community.

For example, last summer, we launched the first enrolment in the IT Staff Development Programme. This internship programme offers students interested in pursuing digital professions an opportunity to start their careers in the IT industry. Students gain an insight into what it takes to practice their chosen IT profession, while also acquiring new competencies, knowledge, and skills in the field.

Based on the results of the pilot enrolment, two students were invited to join the IT Office team. We are currently conducting a second enrolment and looking forward to welcoming more talented students to the IT Office.

© Daniil Prokofyev/ HSE University

Another important project is the HSE University Digital Assistants. The project was initially launched to assist individuals who faced challenges in using digital technology during the pandemic.

Today, the Digital Assistants not only provide assistance and advice in Russian and English through the student-operated Hotline, but they also offer support during online events, work with digital product teams, and even provide digital support outside of the university

They collaborate with charitable foundations through digital volunteering, conduct masterclasses on digital literacy and culture, and provide support for major external online events. Moreover, digital volunteering opens up career opportunities: five students from various courses and programmes have joined the IT Office.

After gaining experience working with our team, many Digital Assistants have been hired by large IT companies. We are pleased to see our students as valuable human resources for the digital economy. We are committed to sharing our positive experience with other Russian universities through our university partnership programme. This will enable our colleagues to launch similar projects at their own institutions.

Our plans for the near future include the launch of a socially significant project called 'Supporting Digital Access to Education for People with Disabilities', which also involves the Student Council's Digitalisation Committee, Digital Assistants, and HSE students with disabilities. We still have a lot of work ahead of us to achieve our overall goals and to develop new ideas and plans for further advancing the university's digital environment.

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