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Bachelor's Programme in Software Engineering Receives Prestigious International Accreditation

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The high quality of HSE’s Bachelor programme has been recognised by experts on the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET), the headquarters of which are located in the U.S. For more than 85 years, ABET has been accrediting college and university programmes in the applied and natural sciences, computing, engineering and engineering technology. HSE’s Software Engineering programme is the only one in Russia to have received this accreditation.

The School of Software Engineering was founded at HSE in 2006. The educational standards in this area of studies, which are applied by many Russian universities, have been developed by HSE experts.

Universities across the globe offer bachelor’s and master’s programmes in software engineering, but only 35 programmes have been accredited by ABET, said Valery Shilov, Academic Supervisor of the HSE Bachelor’s Programme inSoftware Engineering. This is due to the Council’s exigent demands concerning programme quality. Many universities don’t even bother to apply for accreditation in the first place.

The process of accreditation for the HSE programme included three stages that lasted three years.

In September 2015, following the initial application, the programme administration began compiling a report for ABET. ‘We had to answer a huge amount of questions’, recalls Sergey Silantiev, who was at that time Director of International Relations at the HSE Faculty of Computer Science. He is now working at the Office of Doctoral Studies. ‘For example, we had to describe in detail how our study process worked, who taught on the programme and where our graduates work’.

Nine months were spent on compiling the 250-page report in English. ABET appointed three experts, professors from leading U.S. universities, to assess the programme quality. They asked hundreds of additional questions, such as: why is a certain subject taught for a certain amount of hours; what are the purposes of teaching certain subjects; how are the students’ progress and competencies evaluated; what happens when students fail exams, etc.

In November 2017, the third stage of accreditation began: the experts came to Moscow and spent several days at the Faculty of Computer Science. They analyzed the documentation, talked to students, lecturers and employers (for example, with representatives of the RAS Institute of System Programming and the Russian office of Microsoft), and, again, asked many additional questions.  They chose several key courses and talked to the teachers, paying particular attention to the assessment procedure. They were so interested in the Requirements Development and Analysis tests, developed by Prof. Elena Chertkova, that they asked her permission to use them at their home universities.

Based on their successfully visit to Moscow, the experts handed down a positive verdict: their general impression of the programme was good and the organization of the study process, resources and educational content are in line with ABET standards. They also expressed several recommendations for programme improvement.

‘The ABET brand is highly recognized in the global university community, and this accreditation is very important for the Higher School of Economics’, said Valery Shilov. ‘The high quality of our programme has been confirmed by independent international experts and this is a good motivation for further development for our teachers and students. The accreditation will obviously increase the programme’s visibility, not only in Russia, but abroad. Despite the fact that the programme is taught in Russian, the ABET accreditation is an important indicator for international applicants who wish to study software engineering and are  looking to obtain a degree which is highly valued across the globe’.

 

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