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The University’s Development Is Not an Administrative Process, But a Creative One

Ivan Prostakov at a meeting of HSE’s International Advisory Committee

Ivan Prostakov at a meeting of HSE’s International Advisory Committee

HSE Vice Rector Ivan Prostakov discusses the results of a recent International Advisory Committee (IAC) meeting, as well as the priorities the university has set for its international activities. 

In early December 2016, HSE’s International Advisory Committee held its standard meeting with international experts. Council meetings are a way of reviewing the progress made over the past year and looking forward to the near future by ensuring that the university’s work is in sync with the recommendations of leading international experts.

The meeting was particularly noteworthy, as the number of experts in the council grew. New members include not only outstanding scholars, but also top administrators and university managers, those such as Harvard University Vice President for Strategy and Programs Leah Rosovsky. The council grew geographically as well, with top experts from the United States being joined by colleagues from Europe (Ellen Hazelkorn of the Dublin Institute of Technology) and Singapore (Tan Chorh Chuan, President of the National University of Singapore). This allows us to maintain a balanced and multisided viewpoint when it comes to how our university fits into international development trends and into the internationalization of higher education as a whole.

A diverse array of topics was discussed – the development of social sciences at HSE, efforts to attract international students to the university, the role of international specialists in publication activities, and the development of the doctoral school. Particular attention was devoted to the question of transforming HSE from an economics-focused university into a multidisciplinary one.

This was the first time council members met with HSE’s junior instructors, full professors, and international faculty members. The meeting was an opportunity for them all to interact directly and learn from people other than university leadership about what drives the university.

Participating in the “ratings race” makes sense only for universities that, like the Higher School of Economics, have the strategic goal of becoming a global player in the field of international university education

Finally, participants of the meeting had the unique opportunity of discussing international university rankings with one of the world’s leading experts in the field – Professor Ellen Hazelkorn. A special session was created for this discussion, and the main conclusions of the session can be summarised as follows: the rankings system is of course not perfect, and the methodology for calculating the rankings is unsteady and constantly becoming more complex, but this is still the most obvious way for universities to be assessed by different corporations, governmental bodies, and potential students. The main takeaway is that it is not a good idea for universities to try to improve their ranking ‘at any cost.’ In addition, participating in the “rankings race” makes sense only for universities that, like the Higher School of Economics, have the strategic goal of becoming a global player in the field of international university education.

This is essentially one of the recommendations that the International Advisory Committee made at the meeting; after all, the main function of the international experts is to give the university recommendations wherever HSE’s growth and development are concerned. This does not, however, concern administrative adjustments. The recommendations more than anything draw our attention to the important questions that we have to ask ourselves, questions that the IAC helps us formulate even if they might seem quite obvious. An example: why do we need more international students? Or how do we set our priorities as concerns the university’s transformation process?

These important questions might not, and often need not, have a single black-and-white answer. In addition, the answers to these questions can change over time. It is no accident that IAC Chairman Eric Maskin had this to say of HSE’s priorities: ‘Perhaps, the answer to that question is itself evolving, but we would like to have that question always firmly in mind.’

For some, this sort of ambiguity might seem overly crafty or a hint that the experts have not yet figured out our characteristic aspects. In reality, such an approach allows us constantly to rethink that which appears obvious at first glance. The university’s development is not an administrative process, but a creative one.


See also:

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Last week HSE International Advisory Committee held its annual meeting in Moscow. Eric Maskin, Nobel laureate in Economics, 2007, Chairman of the Committee and members of the IAC have talked to HSE News Service about the results of the meeting.

Why Rankings Matter for Universities

University rankings, which increasingly impact both universities' development strategies and state policy in higher education, was one of the main topics discussed at the meeting of the HSE's International Advisory Committee.

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On December 7, at a meeting of the International Advisory Committee, HSE Rector Yaroslav Kuzminov discussed the changes underway at the university and explained how the Higher School of Economics is working towards true international competitiveness as part of the 5-100 Project. 

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The meeting of International Advisory Committee starts December 6. Three newly appointed members of IAC have shared with HSE News Service their views on the role of external consultants in the development of universities, described their reasons for joining the committee and spoke about HSE’s academic reputation and the challenges the university faces.

‘It Is Important for Us to Turn HSE into a World-class Research University’

On December 7, the sixth meeting of the HSE International Advisory Committee opened with leading experts from around the world in the field of science and education coming together to discuss the university’s achievements and the challenges it faces, as well as its objectives for the coming years. Following two days of discussions, the committee members will form recommendations on changes to the primary areas of development.

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From May 25-26, 2013, the most recent in the series of regular meetings of the HSE International Advisory Committee took place at the HSE.

About Global Leadership and Education

On September 10th the first after-summer seminar ‘Actual Research and Developments in Education’, took place as organized by the HSE Institute for Educational Studies. Sir Michael Barber, member of the HSE International Advisory Committee, spoke on ‘Oceans of Innovation: the Atlantic, the Pacific, Global Leadership and the Future of Education’.