Project-Based Learning to Become the Core of the Updated Educational Model at HSE University
The best features of the university model created by HSE over the years will be preserved, but a new model is essential for further development. This new model will focus on project-based learning for all students, as well as the digital transformation in the field of education.
HSE is a research and project university, but in practice this refers primarily to the university’s teachers and staff. When it comes to students, HSE is still predominantly a teaching institution, according to Rector Yaroslav Kuzminov who spoke at HSE Academic Council meeting on December 20. That’s why, in the next 5-10 years, the goal is to involve each student, beginning in his/her first year of studies, in projects and research focused on solving open-ended questions without one clearly defined answer.
According to Yaroslav Kuzminov, this challenge is no smaller than in the 1990s, when HSE took on socio-economic research, which was new for post-Soviet Russia, or in the 2000s, when research started to develop at the university and become internationally recognized. While ten years ago, ten percent of HSE’s teaching and research staff published their papers in international journals, today two-thirds do, including teachers of physical education, foreign languages and military science.
As was the case with those previous challenges, HSE University will be Russia’s first higher education institution to achieve this ambitious goal, since no university is yet project-based for each of its students. Two universities in St. Petersburg have set similar objectives: the Academic University and European University, but their student bodies are relatively small, while HSE has over 40 000 students. In setting itself such a lofty goal, HSE hopes to contribute to the development of Russia as well as global university education as a whole.
The project-based approach has been integrated not only in the HSE University Strategic Development Programme, but in the 2020 Budget and Financial Plan for 2021-22. According to HSE Vice Rector Alexey Novoseltsev, the key change in the faculties’ resource management system will be allocating 15% of the funds received from tuition for student involvement in research, educational and professional project work. This includes the organization of student projects (including team projects), support for student initiatives (including entrepreneurial ones), employment as teaching and research assistants, academic mobility and other relevant activities.
According to Yaroslav Kuzminov, this investment is only the first step on the path to becoming a project-based university. However, it will help to start shifting effort and resources in the necessary direction.
HSE University already pays considerable attention to digitalization. In fact, in terms of the scale of its current digitalization, HSE University leads among Russian universities and is on a par with the world’s best universities. Nevertheless, further digital transformation is key. This means, first and foremost, developing the university’s digital platform (creating a digital educational environment, developing integration solutions, digitizing the back office, and modernizing the IT infrastructure); and second, developing digital educational resources.
The number of employees across HSE’s IT departments has already tripled, and this is due, in particular, to the fact that the university is focused on implementing its own original solutions that ensure independence of the key business processes from external companies. Work on these digitalization efforts will involve professionals from the Faculty of Computer Science, the School of Business Informatics, and MIEM. The digital platform will allow the university to switch to digital protocols, overcome bureaucratic formalities, and enable complete individualization of educational trajectories, according to Yaroslav Kuzminov.
In addition, the university will continue maintaining, updating and producing online courses. In 2020, online course authors will be eligible for bonuses, and a system of incentives for course development and refinement, based on their effectiveness, will be launched.
The digitalization of the educational process helps save money, but HSE University doesn’t aim to replace its lecturers’ courses with online courses, Yaroslav Kuzminov emphasized. On the contrary, it aims to save time and effort: lecturers can deliver short lecture courses on the basis of online courses especially for those students who not only passed the exam, but are interested in the topic. Such students may account for only 20 or 30% of the total student body, but working with them will take on a new form. This will improve the quality of education and allow students to gain a deeper understanding of the issues they are interested in. ‘HSE University has always been known for the high demands it places on its students’, Yaroslav Kuzminov said.
Employers know that someone with an HSE University degree is guaranteed to have mastered the core competencies
As it develops its online learning, the university aims to issue about 500,000 certificates for online courses by the end of the next decade. In order to achieve this goal, HSE will have to develop joint network programmes with local universities (40 agreements have already been signed) to support its online courses and its peers’ offline courses. The university has already implemented support programmes for local teachers and researchers for several years (internships, assistance in preparing publications for international journals, etc) and has created ‘mirror’ labs where HSE University lecturers teach their peers the skills and methods they have recently learned themselves.
HSE University has allocated over 1.4 billion roubles for its digital transition, with over 4 billion roubles earmarked for 2020 through 2023, and, according to the Rector, this is an unprecedented level of investment for a university. Such ambitious goals cannot be achieved with smaller capital outlays—the university would simply have to reproduce some off-the-shelf solutions, which is not acceptable.
Where Will the Money Come from?
As well as with project-based learning, the university plans to fund the university’s digital transformation with the revenue it earns from its core degree programmes.
HSE University’s revenues are expected to grow in 2020 to 26 billion roubles, which represents a 10% increase on 2019. Extrabudgetary revenues will account for 47% of the budged, making HSE University second among Russian universities in terms of their extrabudgetary volume. It should be noted that the university enrolls the strongest students in both state-funded (average USE grade 95+) and fee-paying (85+) slots.
HSE University will also be looking to enter new markets, including, first and foremost, continuing education and corporate education. According to, the university plans to increase its revenues in this area threefold by 2030—up to 6 billion roubles. Over the next four years, the university plans to invest 1 billion roubles in developing new programmes, obtaining international accreditations, attracting new teaching and management teams, increasing infrastructure quality, and developing digital tools.
Starting this academic year, hands-on project work has officially been incorporated into the MIEM educational programme curricula. Working within real-world professional parameters, current third-year students designed, soldered or coded projects for real clients. Once the students presented their projects at a final defense, a Tech Show was held at HSE University for the first time on June 10.
From March 8th to April 7th, 2019 HSE ART GALLERY is hosting a large-scale exhibition on the topic of Women Who Change the World. This joint project by HSE ART GALLERY and LEVI`S® has given HSE Art and Design School students the opportunity to realize their ideas on this important theme.
Master’s programme in Prototyping Future Cities offered by the HSE Vysokovsky Graduate School of Urbanism was launched in 2017 and has since become quite popular among international students. Students from all over the world come to Moscow to learn how to use technologies to deal with future challenges of urban development. Two of the first-year students have talked to HSE News Service about studying on the programme and the projects they have been working on.
The projects ‘Twelve Labours of PR Expert’ and ‘MuzVyshka’ were among the winners at Eventiada IPRA Golden World Awards 2018, Eastern Europe’s largest award in communications.
At the beginning of the new academic year, HSE launched a new mechanism to support student projects called HSEcoin. The first phase of fundraising through this platform took place from September 13 to November 20. During this time, student projects managed to collect 5,069.14 HSEcoins, which equals more than one million roubles based on 2018 exchange rates. Below is a summary of the first phase of the HSEcoin campaign.
At the beginning of the new academic year, HSE launched a new mechanism for supporting student projects – HSEcoin. Now students will be the ones deciding how financing will be distributed to student initiatives.
On February 16, the ‘Silver Archer’ prizes were awarded in Moscow. HSE Science Battles, a project designed by HSE students, made it to the top three in the ‘Technologies of the Future’ category. It was also judged ‘best project’ in this category by the student jury, and was awarded a special prize by Russian Venture Company, the category’s partner.
The winner of the Student Project Contest, the HSE Science Battles, has been short-listed for an award recognizing development in the field of Public Relations, the ‘Silver Archer’ prize. Organizers of the Battles will now fight for the major prize in PR. They’ll be up against the biggest Russian and international communication firms in a show-down that will be open to the public on February 16 at the Public Chamber of the Russian Federation.
On September 19, 2017, a ceremony of the Art Directors Club Russia (ADCR) Awards took place in Moscow. Students from the HSE Art and Design School with their ‘Genders*’ and ‘Save Frisian’ projects took first and second prizes in the ‘Young & Students’ nomination. Furthermore, Oxana Paley, Curator at the HSE Art and Design School, took third place in the ‘Design & Craft’ nomination.
Two HSE student projects have taken prizes at the All-Russian competition for communications projects Eventиада Awards 2015. The reality TV show Battle of the Businesses took first place for Best Student Project while the online magazine The Вышка (The Vyshka) won third prize for Best Creative Project of the Year. Both projects were supported by the HSE Student Initiative Fund.