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Regular version of the site

Partnership with the Oldest European University

Last year was designated the year of Russia in Italy and Italy in Russia. Nina Belyaeva, Head of the HSE Department of Public Policy, told us about the HSE’s cooperation with one of its key Italian partners – the University of Bologna, as well as about new academic mobility opportunities for HSE undergraduate and postgraduate students.

Last year was designated the year of Russia in Italy and Italy in Russia. Nina Belyaeva, Head of the HSE Department of Public Policy, told us about the HSE’s cooperation with one of its key Italian partners – the University of Bologna, as well as about new academic mobility opportunities for HSE undergraduate and postgraduate students.

― Dr. Belyaeva, how would you evaluate the practical results of cooperation between the HSE and the University of Bologna?

― Our cooperation with the University of Bologna has been developing dynamically. In 2009 our Department initiated an official agreement between the HSE and the University of Bologna. At the same time, the first Italian student came to study a master’s course at the HSE. The next year we had two students from Italy, and then four students from the University of Bologna came to study on out master’s course. Incidentally, only two of them came to the HSE through a University of Bologna scholarship, the other two are paying for their own study in Moscow. This is a remarkable fact which demonstrates our programmes can be internationally competitive. In addition to this, we provide each student with a place in a hostel, which considerably reduces their living costs for such a long visit to Russia.

― Who covers the price of education in the partner university?

― We agreed with the University of Bologna that students wouldn’t pay for the exchange programmes between our universities. It is important that this exchange is fair. Of course, if three students from Bologna come to us, we won’t be able to send 20 of our students to Italy. Up to now, we have managed to maintain this balance. While four University of Bologna students came to the HSE in 2010/2011, five HSE students went to Bologna. By the way, two of them – Katya Tereshchenko and Olga Rutkovskaya – have produced a ‘How to Survive in Bologna’ guide for their classmates. Of course, there are services within the University of Bologna which help students find accommodation and solve other everyday issues, but this guide gives invaluable practical advice for visiting students.

― How do the students of the University of Bologna get information about the HSE?

― In October the HSE was added to the list of ‘recommended’ universities on the University of Bologna website as part of their Study Abroad Program. For us this was an important achievement, as it means that the University of Bologna acknowledges the HSE as equal in terms of the level, quality, course content, availability of courses taught in English and social environment for the students. One of the requirements is that at least three departments of the partner university comply with all these criteria. We collected information about seven HSE faculties which teach in English – and all these courses became part of the ‘advertisement’ on the University of Bologna website. And if an Italian student is ready to study HSE’s programmes in Russian, he can choose from any of our courses.

― What are the criteria for the HSE master’s students who would like to go to study in Bologna?

― The general criteria for students are a knowledge of English and a recommendation from their academic supervisor. I would like to explain that, since these are master’s programmes, and our students study at the University of Bologna for at least one semester, it will not be possible to come during the vacations and attend some separate courses; students need to choose a course which will be included as part of his master’s course credit. And it doesn’t matter which department of the University of Bologna provides the relevant courses: we actively cooperate with all the departments of the University of Bologna, not only those connected with social sciences.

― Do you collect any feedback about the HSE from the Italian students who have studied on our master’s courses? What do they say?

― I’d like to illustrate this with a specific example. Last year Mattia Romano studied our master’s programme in Public Policy. He left us with credits which were recognized at the University of Bologna. And this Autumn he came back to the HSE to write a thesis about democratic movements which can change political regimes. Today he is attending protests and conducting interviews there, and all of this will be part of his research. Foreign students (particularly those interested in public policy) come here when something interesting is taking place here. Stagnation attracts no one. That’s why today the demand for our programmes is huge.

Mattia Romano’s return here is also an example that cooperation between the HSE and the University of Bologna should not be limited only to master’s students. It’s also open to doctoral students, and they can work in a partner university on their thesis. This year we welcomed not only Mattia, but also Irene Di Giorgio. She learnt about our programmes thanks to Baltic Practice – this is just one of the advantages the summer schools bring! She is writing a thesis on the penitentiary system under the supervision of Anita Soboleva and is visiting prisons here as part of her research.

― But in Russia the PhD programmes are not equivalent to aspirantura programmes. How will you solve this problem?

― The aspirantura and PhD students of our universities will have an opportunity to get a double degree – Candidate of Science and PhD. They will defend their thesis at the HSE according to our Russian regulations, and in Bologna according to the Bologna ones. This way a student will have two academic supervisors, but only one area of research. The thesis should be interdisciplinary, in Bologna it is based on the EU Law Institute and at the HSE the Department of Public Policy.

To get a double degree, our aspirantura students should carry out their research for at least six months at the University of Bologna (the total period of aspirantura and PhD programmes is the same, three years). But this is not all. They will have to present a project progress report to a commission in Bologna consisting of ten professors. Italian students who come to our postgraduate programme will also have to defend a similar interim report. And the final viva voce process will consist of two stages: a Candidate of Science degree should be approved in the Russian Higher Attestation Commission, and about at around the same time, the paper should be defended in English at the University of Bologna. We have agreed with our Bologna colleagues that we will exchange three postgraduate students during the first year of this project.

Oleg Seregin, HSE News Service

See also:

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