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MA Programme 'Governance of Science, Technology and Innovation' Concludes Partnership Agreements with 5 Recognized Universities

HSE has finalised agreements with its international partner universities for new double diplomas and student exchanges in the framework of the Master’s programme in Governance of Science, Technology and Innovation. Dirk Meissner, Deputy Head of the Research Laboratory for Science and Technology Studies, Professor at the Department of Educational Programmes in the Institute for Statistical Studies and Economics of Knowledge (ISSEK) and Academic Supervisor for the Master’s programme, spoke to the HSE English News service about how the new agreements are made to give master’s students the best opportunities for study abroad and double degree programmes while making sure they match HSE’s approaches and standards. Professor Meissner gives answers to many questions about how the exchanges work and how students can apply to go on them as well as other aspects of the agreements with partner universities.

— Can you tell us which agreements you have signed so far?

— We have signed student exchange agreements with Seoul National University (SNU, South Korea), Middle East Technical University (METU, Ankara, Turkey) and University of Bremen (Germany), and Double Degree Prgramme agreements with Technische Universitaet Berlin (TUBerlin, Germany) and Maastricht University (UM, the Netherlands).

— What are these agreements, Student Exchange and Double Degree and what’s the difference between them?

— Student Exchange Agreements are short term stays for students, typically for 1 or 2 modules at the partners institution; students take courses which are in the field of our programme, credits obtained there are accepted by us and included in the overall count of credits;

Double Degree Programme is a longer stay at the partner’s university. While student exchange is actually open to all universities, double degree is limited to TU Berlin and Maastricht University. The reason is that double degree students are enrolled at HSE and TU Berlin or Maastricht University taking courses at both institutions and earn 60 credits at HSE and 60 credits at TU Berlin or Maastricht University.

All universities we choose as partners are highly reputed institutions usually also ranking high in Times Higher Education and/or QS ranking.

— Which universities can be chosen for Student Exchange?

— Student Exchange Agreements with Seoul National University, Middle East Technical University and University of Bremen ensure that the universities accept the students HSE recommends and that our programme does not evaluate the courses students choose at these universities. Credits can also be earned by completing the Master ‘s thesis at the partner institution. In this case we’ll organize joint supervision, e.g. there will be one supervisor from HSE and one from the partner university. Students might also choose other universities for SEA but in this case students have to inform the programme examination and quality assurance council about the courses they want to take there, the council approves the transfer of credits to our programme.

— Does the programme offer an opportunity to receive 2 diplomas?

— Yes, students get 2 diplomas, one from HSE and one – from TU Berlin or Maastricht University.

— What are those universities famous for? Why makes them interesting for our students?

— All universities we choose as partners are highly reputed institutions usually also ranking high in Times Higher Education and/or QS ranking. In addition, we put a lot of emphasis on the fact that the faculties and programmes enjoy a high standing in the field of our programme. So far, we have had more initial requests by international universities for SEA or DDP but we decided to limit the number of partners choosing only the best ones from our point of view.

— Are there differences between European and Asian universities?

— The European universities are well suited for training our students who want to experience the European environment; the Korean partner is an exceptional institution with an outstanding reputation in Asia especially. So, for students eager to enrich their experience with a European add-on, we recommend the European partner, students who are interested in the Asian style of education and living find the perfect choice at Seoul National University.

— What is the field of programmes/ graduation opportunities?

— All programmes are complementary to our programme. TUBerlin is strong in innovation management, Bremen is established in economics, Maastricht University and METU in STI policy, Seoul National University in innovation management and STI policy. Before concluding the agreements we carefully checked and discussed the courses our partners offer and we came to mutual conclusions that there is no reason for not accepting credits earned in the respective programmes.

Sitting with students from other regions, with different cultural backgrounds and with different career ambitions in one classroom, preparing essays or studies or other work together gives the chance to get a feeling how other young people think and work.

— How should do students apply for the programmes?

— The application procedures differ, usually students apply at our partner institution in the first instance. But we also might recommend students to our partner institutions. In this case students should inform themselves about the programmes and courses offered by partners and apply at our department. We’ll recommend them to our partnersand this clearly means that the students going there are ambassadors’ of our programme and of HSE.

— What is the selection procedure for student exchange/ double degree programme?

— The main criterion is the overall fit of students’ study plans. We value a sound motivation highly, e.g. why the student wants to go abroad and why to a special university. We expect students who wish to study at the partner institutions to formulate a convincing motivation letter. We recommend students to partner universities if all requirements are met.

— How will studying on the SEA/DDP programme be organized?

— Students first apply, then get approval and move to the respective city. The partner universities have students’ offices which help in logistics like enrollment, obtaining passports for libraries and similar things or finding an apartment. Once they finish the courses students get a transcript which will also be sent to us.

— Can the students get any financial support, i.e. tuition waivers, accommodation, travel expenses? What should they do?

— There are currently several support programmes. Some of them are HSE specific programmes, some are outside HSE naturally. For the German partner universities I’d refer especially to DAAD (daad.ru) for scholarships to Germany. Also for the European partners students should look at the EU programmes.

— How to organize studying abroad?

— Students should in the first instance get a clear idea which university they want to go to, which courses to take and if it’s SEA or DDP. Then students need to check the scholarships available at the different sources. Basic information can always be found on the internet presence of funding sources. But I strongly recommend planning the international part of study time well in advance, it often appears that application periods for scholarships are closed 8 or 9 months before the actual exchange.

We require the partner university to have a good reputation and standing in the regional but also the global context.

— Why are SEA/DDP useful for students?

— Studying in a completely different environment from HSE is beneficial for students, they make experiences which are unique. Sitting with students from other regions, with different cultural backgrounds and with different career ambitions in one classroom, preparing essays or case studies or other work together gives the chance to get a feeling how other young people think and work. There is hugely different from enjoying a vacation in another country. Holidays are holidays, no pressure, nothing you need to achieve eventually, working in another country is also a challenge but here you’re evaluated against your performance. Studying is more relaxed, there’s only the pressure to gain credits but there is no professional risk. When coming back to HSE students have a much broader horizon and especially they can use what they learned abroad here. For prospective careers studying abroad is always beneficial. Later in their professional careers students will remember small details they learned and experienced abroad, such experiences are always worthwhile.

— Do you expect exchange students to come to HSE as well?

— Yes, all our agreements are mutual agreements, e.g. HSE students go to partner universities and we also welcome incoming students. We always insist on two-way SEA and DDP.

— Are the agreements always limited? Why are agreements always limited in the number of students allowed to participate?

— We have a competitive element in the agreements, we want to motivate students to take the time studying abroad seriously and not consider this as holidays. Remember that we see our students going abroad as ambassadors of HSE and our programme.

— Can students also prepare their Master’s thesis at partner universities?

— Yes, we strongly encourage our students to prepare their Master’s thesis at a partner university. We offer students joint supervision of the thesis together with our colleagues at the partner institutions. This is naturally a special challenge because the supervisors are not at the same place. But we believe it is an additional value for the student to get supervision from two different academic cultures.

— Are there differences in the programme regulations?

— Yes, each programme has unique programme regulations but during the discussions with our partners we made sure that there are no conflicts between the individual regulations. On the contrary, the regulations are always compatible. It also needs to be stressed that all partnership agreements we concluded have been checked by HSE councils and units for potential infringements of HSE rules – students now can be assured that no infringements happen.

For prospective careers studying abroad is always beneficial. Later in their professional careers students will remember small details they learned and experienced abroad, such experiences are always worthwhile.

— What are HSE requirements on partner universities, what is expected from HSE by the partner universities?

— We require the partner university to have a good reputation and standing in the regional but also the global context. This is the first requirement. Second it’s extremely important to us that our partners view and treat students as we do. One example is that we’re committed to respond to students request immediately with almost no delay, similar we expect at partner universities. Our partners expect us to meet the highest standards in teaching, frequent quality control and taking students serious. That’s what we do and that’s what we consider the basis for any cooperation between the universities’ programmes

— Do you plan to extend the network of partner universities?

— Currently we have started discussions with a leading Chinese university and one institution in Peru and one in Brazil. Because we’re at the beginning of discussion and preparations I won’t mention names yet but be assured that it’s always the best universities and the universities who have a spirit which is comparable to ours. Also we experience increasing interest in our programme which is a good indication. There are by far more requests for SEA and DDP than we can handle, still we assume this international interest is the ultimate evidence that the programme is well designed and well received by the international community.

— Is exchange limited to students or also involving faculty exchange?

— Any exchange includes faculty exchange and student exchange. For example, we start with guest lecturers in Bremen, we’ll have lecturers from METU and Seoul National University lecturing in our programme among many activities. And with the joint supervision of the Master’s thesis we are breaking new ground.

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