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‘HSE Is in a Class by Itself.’ Annual HSE International Advisory Committee Meeting Commences

New faculties, personnel development, internationalisation, and much more – these are all things on the agenda of the annual International Advisory Committee (IAC) meeting currently taking place in Moscow.

The IAC an advisory body that monitors and assesses HSE’s development in key areas relating to the university’s ability to compete at the international level. The committee is made up of the world’s leading experts in issues surrounding higher education.

‘The year 2018 was very important for the development of the Higher School of Economics and for the strengthening of its positions on the Russian and international education market,’ commented HSE Rector Yaroslav Kuzminov during his opening remarks. HSE remains among Russia’s top three universities by student acceptance quality, and the school continues to increase the number of international students who enrol. Additionally, the university is in the top 100 on international rankings in areas such as the social sciences, management, and mathematics. HSE’s first experience awarding its own PhDs was also incredibly successful.

Modern technologies require new approaches to organising the learning process, Yaroslav Kuzminov said, adding that in this respect, HSE is forging ahead. The curriculums for all educational programmes include online courses, as just one example. There were also changes in the school’s organisational structure, with three new faculties being created.

IAC Chairman and Nobel Laureate in Economics Eric Maskin noted the speed and scope of the changes underway at HSE. ‘I’ve had an opportunity to be on advisory committees for other universities but I must say HSE is in a class by itself. We go away for a year and we come back to discover that there are three new faculties. Most universities make a little change here and a little change there but HSE always operates big. It leaves us somewhat breathless. It’s hard for us to keep up, but it’s exciting to try. I look forward to the next couple of days trying to catch up with what HSE has been up to,’ he said.

HSE Vice Rector Ivan Prostakov gave brief mention to how HSE had successfully executed the IAC’s recommendations from previous years. The number of council members was expanded to 11, for example. Each year, HSE also tries to organise meetings between IAC members and HSE instructors and students. This year’s meetings will take place with representatives of HSE’s English-taught programmes and disciplines. IAC members will learn first-hand how the curriculums of these programmes and courses are built.

HSE continues to develop its blended learning tools and remains Russia’s leader by number of courses on online platforms. In fact, HSE recently teamed up with Coursera to host a large conference in Moscow on the problems facing online education. The university would like expert advice on this field as well. Special sessions will be devoted to personnel development issues, the teaching bonus system, and internationalisation (including HSE’s relations with universities in BRICS countries), all topics that traditionally interest IAC members. ‘It is gratifying that the university has taken many of the suggestions made by the council in previous years so seriously,’ Eric Maskin added.

A significant portion of the IAC meeting’s agenda for the first day consisted of a presentation of the new faculties. These are the Faculty of Urban and Regional Development, the Faculty of Chemistry, and the Faculty of Biology and Biotechnologies. The deans of these faculties, Gleb VitkovVitaly Konov, and Alexander Tonevitsky, talked about what has been done, as well as what lies ahead for the faculties.

Introducing these speeches, HSE First Vice Rector Vadim Radaev emphasised that HSE was not alone in creating its natural sciences faculties, as the university worked closely with institutes of the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS). This represented a new model of cooperation between HSE and RAS aimed at bridging the gap between universities and academic institutions – that is, between education and basic research. This gap remains from Soviet times and is still typical for Russia.

Establishing this relationship is of course essential; however, according to the former director of planning at the Dublin Institute of Technology, Ellen Hazelkorn, the relationship with the industrial sector is just as important. Students working on projects in chemistry and biotechnology must understand that their developments can also be commercialised.

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