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‘We Can Help Each Other Find Solutions’: HSE Hosts International Partners Week

International Partner Week at HSE has brought together representatives of 25 universities from 15 countries of Europe, South-East Asia and the U.S., with which HSE has various cooperation agreements. During the event, the participants exchange information about their universities and their internationalization initiatives.

‘You are coming from different countries with different academic traditions and we are sure that such events are vitally important. It’s a unique chance to be in direct contact. Even if we are different, we are sharing similar problems, and we can help each other find the right solutions,’ said HSE Vice Rector Ivan Prostakov at the opening ceremony of the Partner Week.

According to HSE Vice Rector Igor Chirikov, the event provides universities with an opportunity to discuss how their activities and approaches to teaching and student relations should change in the digital era. He spoke about HSE’s activities in this context and mentioned some challenges related to integrating the international students into the university community. These challenges are mostly related not to the curriculum per se (after all, HSE offers lots of English-taught courses), but to student socialization, their integration into the student community, and overcoming the language barrier. ‘We have to overcome the model when international students are ghettoized in some respect,’ emphasized Igor Chirikov, ‘And we are proud to say that the situation is gradually changing for the better’.

Looking into the Future

A special session was dedicated to presenting educational opportunities offered by HSE campuses. International students can study not only in Moscow or Saint Petersburg, which are traditionally very popular destinations for student mobility, but also in Nizhny Novgorod and in Perm. These campuses also offer English-taught programmes and implement double degree agreements with European universities.

According to Ivan Prostakov, internationalization is integral to the university strategy, and HSE is going to streamline all its international activities - from student admissions to staff recruitment on the global academic market and research collaboration. Geographical diversification of partners and student mobility is one of the essential tasks in this regard.

HSE focuses on the development of interdisciplinary fields related to the use of big data. Another priority is the development of entrepreneurial and innovative culture. E-learning technologies are also expected to promote the international coverage: HSE is already one of Russia’s leading universities in terms of online courses available. ‘However, what we are trying to do is not simply to be leaders in Russia, but to share our experience with other Russian institutions, so that Russian education becomes more open and competitive internationally,’ commented Ivan Prostakov.

Raisa Asikainen, University of Helsinki (Finland), Specialist at the International exchange services

Our cooperation with HSE started with one institute, Aleksanteri Institute - Finnish Centre for Russian and East European Studies – it was unit-level cooperation in the field of Russian studies. Then after they had some good experience, other faculties followed. University-wide, we’ve been partners for about three years. HSE is now one of our biggest partners in terms of the number of incoming and outgoing students. Our students going to HSE are mostly interested in Social Sciences and Humanities, but lately we have seen an increasing interest in Law, Computer Science. I can say that the level of interest in HSE on the part of our students is definitely increasing because HSE is offering a wide range of courses in English which our students who are not fluent in Russian can take. A lot of students are looking for a good university to spend a semester at and HSE is a suitable choice for many. Besides, they are attracted by the number of student clubs and activities that HSE has. As for HSE students, they tend to choose courses in Law and Social Sciences. At this International Partners week we hope to combine our different agreements with HSE into one umbrella agreement. We would also like to sign an umbrella agreement on teaching and research exchange.

Dr Ria Laenen, KU Leuven (Belgium), Faculty of Social Sciences, International relations policy adviser

Our cooperation started a couple of years ago. Several faculties are involved in the cooperation, including the Faculty of Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, and Faculty of Economics. Most of the cooperation we’ve had so far is student exchange. We also have some opportunities for staff exchange but this has not been realized yet, so this is one of the things we intend to improve in the future. We also hope to expand our cooperation to double-degree programmes or research cooperation.

HSE has a very good reputation in the academic field. When we present mobility opportunities in Russia to our students we recommend them HSE because in our opinion it is the best partner in Russia in our field of studies. Initially the main reason was that HSE had the most courses in English. Then we also came to realize that the quality of education here is very high. The students whom we send to HSE from the Faculty of Social Sciences do not know Russian so they only take English courses in sociology, political science or economics. But when they come here, they also take some courses of Russian as a Foreign Language, which HSE offers. It is something that they really appreciate. We hope that the number of both incoming and outgoing students will increase in the future.

Here, I will be giving a presentation on double degrees. What I would like to focus on in my presentation are the key points that need to be kept in mind when a double degree programme is launched. In my opinion, creating the curriculum is not the main problem. Rather, it is on the administrative and legal side that most problems occur. There are also practical issues to think about, for instance, what do you do with the requirement for students to write a thesis – do they need to write two theses? How is this process to be organized?

Krystine Stermole, Ca’Foscari University of Venice ( Italy), International Relations Officer, Global Engagement Office

We have a very strong relationship with HSE and this November our Vice Rector will be coming to Moscow to sign an agreement on opening a Ca’Foscari representative office at HSE – the third in the world and the first in Russia. The two other centres are located in China and in Azerbaijan. The purpose of the office will be to reinforce our good relationship with HSE and boost our brand recognition. It will also give us an opportunity to be active and participatory abroad – to have a platform from which to launch different kinds of collaborative programmes. There will be someone working in Moscow on our behalf to facilitate different projects. For example, in China we put on exhibitions on cultural exchange between our two countries, we’ve also got collaborative research projects. We hope to do the same here.

When it comes to internationalization HSE is incredibly strong – it has a good handle on how to talk about itself abroad. Certainly, communication in English has been well-developed in recent years. This is something we are also working on and when a partner sets a good example, it inspires and encourages.

At this event, I will be speaking on the role of branding in student recruitment. When you think about Moscow you might think about it being a stimulating intellectual place where you might want to study. When people think of Venice, that is not the first thing that comes to their mind. They think about riding in a gondola or eating pasta, so in our brand we have to take advantage of being in a city that has its own attractiveness but at the same time transforming it into thinking about Venice as the place where you might study. Actually, if we think about it, students who come on a mobility programme or join two or three year degree programmes, they give back to the city because they are creating a community as opposed to tourists who come and go.

Regine van Groningen, University of Groningen (The Netherlands), Policy advisor on internationlisation, Erasmus+insitutuional coordinator, coordinator for cooperation with Russia

We have a memorandum of understanding, a general cooperation agreement with the Higher School of Economics since 2011. First contacts started due to our Erasmus Mundus projects that we were partners in. There were also Aurora projects coordinated by Turku University in Finland. We got to know several new Russian universities and HSE was one of them. We had good results – highly talented students from HSE came to our university and we were investigating whether it would also be possible to send our students to Moscow to your university and HSE was offering several courses in English, which was attractive for us. Since then, the cooperation has grown from economics and business to the fields of arts, philosophy and computer science. Our students are most interested in going to Moscow or Saint Petersburg. Going to other cities further into Russia is still too adventurous for them.

At this Partners Week, I’m mostly interested in sessions on strategy and innovations in teaching and curriculum. I will briefly talk on partnerships and networks and I also intend to join other sessions because they seem interesting.

 

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