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Anti-lectures, Cake and Soap Bubbles: HSE Faculty of Economic Sciences Celebrates Its 30th Anniversary

Soap Bubbles Show

Soap Bubbles Show
Photo: SCFES

This year’s jubilee programme of Economfest turned out to be particularly eventful. Congratulations from university leaders, meetings with teachers, games, contests, quizzes, a job exchange with KPMG and Changellenge, as well as popcorn, cotton candy and cake were prepared for students, applicants and guests of HSE University.

On the day of the event, the central atrium of HSE University on Pokrovsky Bulvar looked both like the site of an economic forum and a music festival. The space was divided into thematic sections, where visitors could communicate with experts, teachers and graduates of the Faculty of Economic Sciences. There were also areas for board games, office volleyball, and ping pong, while HSE Dance club organized jazz-funk dance lessons.

The columns of the atrium were decorated with balloons, soap bubbles were floating around, and on special boards all students could mark their faculty or leave a message, continuing the phrase ‘I love HSE University because…’

‘I congratulate you on this faculty’s anniversary. It seems right to me that you, the students of this faculty, have seized the central atrium of the university. It would be great if it always looked like this: full of student life, full of a celebratory atmosphere,’ says Dmitry Zemtsov, HSE Vice Rector, greeting the participants of EconomFest.

Dean of the Faculty of Economic Sciences, Sergey Pekarski, also congratulated students and teachers. ‘We as economists can be proud of the fact that HSE University actually started with economics,’ he says. ‘Now it’s the Higher School of Everything, but initially it was the Higher School of Economics. And that's why our faculty played a flagship role, and still does. Of course, the success of our faculty depends not only on the teaching staff. The success of the Higher School of Economics and the Faculty of Economic Sciences is a success that we owe to you.’

Dean of the Faculty of Economic Sciences Sergey Pekarski and HSE Vice Rector Dmitry Zemtsov
Photo: SCFES

After the official part of the event, the sports and intellectual competitions began. Competition participants and winners received special tokens, which they could exchange for branded HSE T-shirts, tote-bags and notebooks at the merchandise store. Other participants stood in line for popcorn and cotton candy. Guests could take a gastronomic test: after tasting juices and fruit purees, they had to guess which fruits they were made of. Prospective students could take part in excursions through the labyrinth of buildings, play a financial game or attend a show.

‘I really like the faculty atmosphere,’ says Kristina Simonova, 2nd-year student. ‘Here ambitious students and professional teachers come together to create a community. There are always extracurricular activities taking place. They help to bring harmony to the intense learning process.’

HSE University Cheerleaders
Photo: SCFES

EconomFest-2022 updated the ‘Overheard at HSE University’ format of communication with teachers, which proved so popular at past festivals. Associate Professors of the Faculty of Economic Sciences Elena Kossova and Sergey Volodin answered questions about their life and work at the university, their personal experience and views on the educational process.

In particular, they shared their experience of their first jobs. Sergey Volodin had a chance to be employed as an assistant project manager while studying in the second year of HSE master's programme, right at the start of the financial crisis in 2008. He was let go two weeks after starting work. ‘I wasn't upset at all — I needed to work on my thesis,’ he admitted.

Elena Kossova told the students how, while a doctoral student, she taught the staff of the Institute of Asian and African Countries of Moscow State University to use a text editor. ‘Highly respected people were sitting in front of me, and I was teaching them how to move a mouse,’ she says with a smile.

Sergey Volodin believes that many HSE students do the right thing when they take internships in companies during their studies, but they shouldn't get too carried away with it: students should have time for study, communication, and life. ‘You will work for decades later, and there are only four years of student life,’ he said to the students.

Money Doesn’t Buy Happiness

Polina Koroleva and Dmitry Mikhaylov
Photo: SCFES

An informal conversation with students in the format of an anti-lecture was conducted by the teacher Polina Koroleva and the assistant Dmitry Mikhaylov. They attempted to sort out the issues of future employment together and decide whether a job should be something you love or something highly paid and whether a person inevitably faces this problem.

Polina Koroleva said that at HSE University, a teacher at the start of their career receives 30 thousand roubles a month. Dmitry Mikhailov's first experience was even more modest: he started working at the Faculty of Economic Sciences with two seminars a week, thus earning 6 thousand roubles a month.

 ‘I work in many places: HSE University, HSE Lyceum, three schools, a grammar school, I prepare and organise Olympiads and visit schools,’ says Polina Koroleva. Sometimes you don’t think about money, because you really enjoy your work. ‘I worked in finance for a year — I didn’t like it. There is more drive at the university,’ says Dmitry Mikhaylov.

Both teachers graduated from the Faculty of Economic Sciences. They believe that the value of studying at HSE University is in the quality of its environment: here people have their own topics of conversation, values and life goals. ‘The most important thing you should get from university is an address book or friends in VKontakte and connections through social networks. Your colleagues might well live in different countries, but you can always ask a friend from the USA to pay for a Zoom subscription,’ notes Polina Koroleva.

During the meetings with students, representatives of KPMG and Changellenge talked about vacancies and prospects for working in their companies.

Become an Investor

Students of the Faculty of Economic Sciences organised a financial game ‘Become an Investor’ for applicants. Participants received an equal amount of starting capital, which they had to distribute among different types of investments during eight rounds. Along the way, the students explained how stocks differ from bonds, how the yield varies according to different types of investments and what associated risks they have.

During the game, the participants created their own investment strategies and discussed them, evaluating the effectiveness of the selected steps after each round. The game, created by HSEstudents, randomly distributed income with a set probability, so the finalists, like real investors, in addition to an elaborate strategy, needed to be lucky.

A giant white and blue three-tier cake decorated with strawberries and blueberries, mini meringues and extracts from the microeconomics course including the formula for calculating gross costs, expressed as the sum of fixed and variable costs at each specific level of production,  was another highlight of the day.

A master class of HSE Theatre and the cinema club also were held during the event.

‘I am completely satisfied with my studies at the faculty, I have already determined my career path and I am glad that HSE University can provide all the opportunities for this,’ said Anastasia Sotnikova, 2nd-year student. ‘It's great that we have cool events like EconomFest! You can see how much work the organizers have done: there were a lot of amazing activities, presents, and, of course, the most delicious cake in the world!’

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