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Regular version of the site

'I Am Very Happy to Have the Opportunity to Study at HSE University'

'I Am Very Happy to Have the Opportunity to Study at HSE University'

© Mikhail Dmitriev/ HSE University

This fall, Madhavi Karunarathne came to HSE University from Sri Lanka, where she earned her bachelor’s in finance at the University of Colombo. She is now beginning her studies in the Master’s Programme ‘Strategic Corporate Finance’. The new master’s student came through Russia’s Open Doors Scholarship Project for international prospective master’s students, which allows scholarship recipients to study at one of 21 participating Russian universities tuition-free. Madhavi spoke with HSE News Service about why she chose HSE, what it was like to participate in the Open Doors Scholarship competition, and how she is liking her studies.

On choosing HSE University

Choosing the university was not necessarily an obvious choice at first. The Open Doors Scholarship Project has over 20 participating universities, so I had to do some research to find out which ones were particularly strong in economics and finance—particularly strategic corporate finance, which is my area of interest. However, once I understood that HSE is one of the strongest universities for the economic sector, the choice was clear.

I had also heard a lot about HSE University from a friend of my sister’s in Sri Lanka, who did his master’s in law at the Nizhny Novgorod campus. He was always telling me about how HSE is the best university in Moscow for economics. So that’s why I was drawn to HSE. (It was also from him, by the way, that I learned about Russia’s Open Doors Scholarship competition.)

I was also drawn to HSE because of its location in Moscow. Here I can find people who speak English—it is a big, international city, and it is easy for foreigners to get by on English. So that was an additional factor I took into consideration

On participating in the Open Doors Scholarship competition

It was actually pretty tough. The screening process was very thorough. First, we had to submit all our documents (including all certificates I had been awarded – related to sports, leadership, etc.) in a portfolio. We were asked about our research publications, and we had to write a motivation letter about why we were applying. After you pass the initial screening round, you proceed to the second round, which is the online test. The test was also very difficult. I was extremely relieved when I learned I passed both of these rounds, since the test was so difficult. I am very happy to have gotten this opportunity to study at HSE University with full tuition coverage.

The Open Doors Scholarship Project awards scholarships in a wide range of subject areas, like business management, finance and credit, the humanities, and science-related subjects. Due to my background in finance, I applied to two areas: Business Management and Finance and Credit. On the test, however, I only got through the Finance and Credit area. Nonetheless, I am very pleased with my results—now I am building upon my experience with finance.


Photo by Mikhail Dmitriev

On the perks of the Open Doors Scholarship

The Open Doors competition wasn’t just helpful to me in getting into one of the best universities in Russia. I have also met a lot of friends from different countries through it—many of whom study here at HSE, but also other universities in Russia. It was nice to have a network of international friends here already from the very beginning.

Thanks to Open Doors, when I came here to HSE, I got to meet a lot of friends who I had never met before in person but knew from the Open Doors group

They helped me with getting around the city and getting to know the metro system. The group is quite active. I’ve made friends from Bangladesh, Pakistan, and India.

On studying Strategic Corporate Finance at HSE

So far, I am really enjoying my classes in the Master’s Programme ‘Strategic Corporate Finance’. The programme is very advanced and challenging. In Sri Lanka, where I earned my bachelor’s, we only had lectures. Here we have lectures and seminar classes. In seminars, we learn all sorts of things, because we can take what we’ve learned in the lectures and practically apply it. As for the lecturers, they are knowledgeable very impressive – and they are really good teachers.

We have about 60 students in our classes. Of the students, about 20, or a third, are international students. We do a lot of group work, and in each team, there is always one international student. I like this collaborative format. Over the course of the class we can get to know a lot of people, and the group work is especially helpful to me since I don’t know much about Russian economics specifically—back home, for example, I know how to get information about the Sri Lankan Central Bank, but here when you go to the Russian Central Bank website, everything is different, so my team members help me with that.

Photo by Mikhail Dmitriev

On the faculty and staff

The International Office staff, our programme academic supervisor, and our programme manager have all been very helpful. For example, before I came here, I knew I wanted to study sustainable finance. However, when I was browsing professors’ profile pages on the HSE website, I couldn’t find anyone in finance who was engaged with this specific subfield. I wrote to Lyudmila Esipova, our programme manager, and she immediately sent my email to our programme supervisor, Anastasia Stepanova, who then found a specialist who does work in my area outside the university and was willing to be my supervisor. I was very grateful for their support and flexibility—now I will be able to pursue research in sustainable finance—a relatively new, and, in many countries, underdeveloped field.

On Moscow

I haven’t been able to get out an explore much yet, but I did manage to visit Red Square and GUM (a shopping complex on Red Square – ed. note), which were both amazing. I’ve heard they are especially beautiful at night when they are all lit up. I look forward to exploring more of the city in December when we have our winter break!

On future plans

If I get the opportunity, I would like to work in Russia. I hope to work part-time as an intern at a company next year, and then, after graduation, I would like to work here in Russia for a few years.


Register for Open Doors Russian Scholarship Competition before December 18, 2019

Admissions to HSE’s Master’s programmes are now open. International students can apply online. To learn more about HSE University, its admission process, or life in Moscow, please visit International Admissions website, or contact the Education & Training Advisory Centre at: inter@hse.ru,  or via WhatsApp at: +7 (916) 311 8521.

See also:

Over 56,000 Participants from 196 Countries Registered for Open Doors: Russian Scholarship Project

The first stage of the Open Doors: Russian Scholarship Project for prospective master’s and doctoral students has concluded. The winners of the competition get an opportunity to study at Russian universities for free. HSE University is among the most popular universities on the project.

‘I Love Learning in a Multicultural Environment’

The Master’s programme in Governance of Science, Technology and Innovation at HSE University has long been popular with international students due to the versatility of its curriculum, strong practical focus, and talented faculty. International students of the programme talk about the advantages of the programme, their favourite courses, and career aspirations.

Record Number of Participants Register for the Open Doors Russian Scholarship Project

More than 56,000 international participants from 197 countries have registered for Open Doors: Russian Scholarship Project organized by Association of Global Universities for master’s and doctoral programme applicants.Registration for the competition closed on December 10, 2020.

‘I Can Definitely Recommend HSE University to International Students’

Rakib Hassan Pran, from Bangladesh, is currently doing his Master’s in Applied Statistics with Network Analysis at the HSE International Laboratory for Applied Network Research. Before enrolling at HSE, Rakib worked in information security wing of a Bank (Exim Bank BD) in Bangladesh. He got a leave from his job to study at HSE University in Moscow.


Students have registered for the Open Doors Russian Scholarship Project for international graduate applicants. The results of the first competition round will be announced December 30, 2019.

Open Doors Scholarship Competition for International Applicants: Register Now!

More than 40,000 participants from 183 countries have already registered for the Open Doors Scholarship Competition. The competition, which is held by the Association of Global Universities, gives international applicants the opportunity to enroll tuition-free in a Master’s programme of a participating Russian university of their choice without having to take entrance exams. The deadline to submit your portfolio for consideration is December 18.

‘I Would Strongly Recommend Studying in Russia’

Abrar Riaz has come to Moscow from Pakistan to study in theCognitive Sciences and Technologies: from Neuron to Cognition Master’s programme at HSE University. He was accepted to the programme through Russia’s Open Doors Scholarship Project. Abrar spoke with the HSE News Service about why he chose HSE University and what it was like to participate in the competition.

From Law to Linguistics: How a Columbian Student Came to Study at HSE University

What’s the best way to learn Russian? Is it difficult to get used to the Siberian winter? Can you teach Russian language if you’re not a native speaker of it? Andres Cuéllar, a student of the Master’s programme ‘Russian as a Foreign Language in Cross-Linguistic and Cross-Cultural Perspective’, has discussed these and other issues with HSE News Service.

Master’s Programmes in Russia Welcome Talented International Students

Registration for the Open Doors: Russian Scholarship Project for international applicants to Russian Master’s programmes is open until December 18. The competition consists of two online rounds. The first round is a portfolio competition.

> 20,000

participants from 158 countries have already registered for the Open Doors Olympiad, an international competition organized by the Association of Global Universities. This event gives participants a chance to get tuition-free admission to English or Russian-taught Master’s programmes at Russia’s top universities.