‘HSE Is an Environment; It Is People’
HSE Rector Nikita Anisimov gave an interview to the Business of Russia magazine in which he talked about the essence of HSE University, the importance of double-degrees, how online education differs from classical education and how sanctions allow for the development of domestic projects in the field of education.
— You enrolled in Moscow State University at the age of 15 and defended your PhD at the age of 23—such students are called prodigies. In the end, how did you change a seemingly guaranteed successful academic career to an administrative one?
— I just always tried to be myself. My grandparents were schoolteachers, so by the age of six I could already read and write. When I turned six, they brought me to school, suggested trying to study with first-graders, and I stayed in the class. Can such a child be considered a prodigy? I don’t think so; it’s following one’s inner intentions.
I graduated from a math school, then tried to enrol in the Faculty of Mechanics and Mathematics at MSU and succeeded on my first try. I was 15 years old. I studied for five years, entered graduate school, and defended my dissertation three years later. My supervisor worked in the rector's office of Moscow State University and suggested working together. Then I realised that I could do administrative work in the field of education.
The mission of management, research and teaching is the same: to work for people. Both administration and teaching are people-oriented professions. It has always been important for me to feel that I can help people.
It would be wrong for me to view administration and academia as opposing careers. They are two sides of the same coin. If a person does something well, why not give them the opportunity to do it all their life? This is my life and management credo—to give people the opportunity to pursue their talents.
— HSE University stands out from other universities. Having taken over at HSE University last year, how much do you feel this difference?
— Honestly speaking, HSE is not a higher education institution. It is a university and an environment. An environment first, even, and a university second. I felt this distinction immediately and I strive to cultivate it as much as possible.
HSE University was birthed 30 years ago. Its founders had the opportunity to consider all of the negative aspects they saw in universities at the time. HSE was created as a community of professionals, people united by a single goal. That is our environment.
The university is an atmosphere; it is people. That is precisely why student communities are so important to us. The student self-governance system is important. The professors and the system for awarding and supporting them is important. We have a serious system of internal incentives and rewards not only for our professors and scientists, but also for those employees who make our university better every day doing work that may at first appear to play a support role, but is in fact essential.
Our university has grown large. It is no longer the ‘boutique’ centre for training economists for a new age that it started out as. This is a true university with 50,000 students and 10,000 staff. We operate in four cities: Moscow, St Petersburg, Nizhny Novgorod, and Perm.
On the one hand, HSE is a leading university that attracts the best people. On the other hand, it is a university where people who are facing difficulties in life can come. We have a robust social support programme
If the students are capable, we invite them to the university at our own expense, train them up, and thus facilitate social mobility. Last year, we invested 3.8 billion roubles of university funds (no other university in the country could do this) into social support for students.
You will not find such a high concentration of motivated students with high Unified State Exam results anywhere else. We rank 2nd–3rd in the country by the average USE scores of our applicants. Given that we have 50,000 students, we can confidently say that HSE is one of the biggest Russian universities with the highest level of motivation in every student—motivation not only to study and earn a degree, but also to realise one’s potential.
— It is well known that good assessments at HSE University can’t be asked for or bought. People are assessed by merit.
— That is absolutely true. It is the foundation of our university culture. I believe it is very harmful for young people to receive things they have not earned. It is horribly corrupting, especially for talented people.
Students should understand that even dismissal from the university can ultimately be beneficial. They will understand this later, when they are older. If someone cannot study with us for one reason or another, it is better to take academic leave or choose a different life trajectory.
Yes, we are demanding. These are not the demands of the university, but of the environment.
HSE University’s 30th anniversary is the main subject of the latest issue of Business of Russia. It features interviews with Yaroslav Kuzminov, Academic Supervisor of HSE University; Anna Blyakhman, Director of HSE University in Nizhny Novgorod; Anna Tyshetskaya, Director of HSE University in St Petersburg; Dmitry Fishbein, Director of the HSE Lyceum; Alexey Repik, HSE University graduate, Chairman of the Board of R-Pharm, and President of the Business Russia association; Oleg Fomichev, HSE University graduate and Director for Strategic Planning and Development at ComplexProm; and Andrey Vorobyov, HSE University graduate and Governor of Moscow Oblast.
Thirty years ago, on November 27, 1992, a historical event happened: the Russian government issued Order No. 917 ‘On the establishment of Higher School of Economics’. In the three decades since then, the university has evolved from a small school for economists to a multidisciplinary university; it has become an intellectual community that makes a contribution to the well-being of the country and the world.
HSE University’s rector has congratulated students, teachers, employees, researchers, and graduates on the university’s 30th anniversary. He said that HSE University’s history was impressive for its swiftness—in just three decades, it has become one of Russia’s best and largest universities, joined the international academic community, achieved good rankings, and is now successfully competing for talent globally.
This year’s Golden HSE awards ceremony took place on December 1 and saw a record number of nominees with 355 contenders for 10 different nomination categories. The winners of each category were determined in two stages. In addition, this year’s event was the second time the Golden Citation award was given out. This is an ‘award within an award’ that is given to the most-cited researcher.
Dmitry Medvedev, Russian Prime Minister, congratulates the Higher School of Economics on its 25th anniversary.
Russian President Vladimir Putin congratulates the Higher School of Economics on its 25th anniversary.
The latest issue of Higher Education in Russia and Beyond informational journal is dedicated to HSE’s 25th anniversary. The issue opens with an interview with HSE Rector Yaroslav Kuzminov, where he talks about how the University was originally formed, its guiding principles and the development trajectories it aims to pursue.
This year HSE marks the 25th anniversary of its founding. While this would usually be cause for pomp, ceremony, and long speeches, we prefer to save those for our 100th anniversary, and instead to mark the occasion with wit – and declare it an ‘anti-versary.’
As we celebrate this year’s anniversary of HSE, we will not recall everything that has happened with the university since it was founded; its milestones have been recounted numerous times already. We will instead tell you about the most important things that have happened this year.
The Higher School of Economics will be 22 on November 27. Evgeny Yasin and Alexander Shokhin would like to congratulate the university on this.