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Regular version of the site

Our Key Task Is the Expansion of International Links

Prof. Nina Belyaeva, Head of the HSE Department of Public Policy, spoke to us about some of the details of their master’s programme taught in English in 2013.

In September 2012 we completed our transition to teaching only in English. This summer the master’s students, who were enrolled under the previous guidelines, will defend their theses in Russian. And these will be our last master’s theses in Russian. We switched to English not just for the sake of teaching in English, but in order to give our students greater education and career opportunities all over the world. That’s why our key task is the expansion of international links, by increasing the number of foreign partners and agreements on double and triple PhD programmes.

Today, we have an agreement on postgraduate student exchange with the University of Bologna, according to which a postgraduate student can defend their thesis in two universities at the same time, HSE and Unibo. In addition to that, the HSE is part of a university consortium, ERMA - European Regional Master’s Degree in Democracy and Human Rights in South-East Europe programme, and that’s why students of our specialization in Human Rights and Democratic Governance can get three master’s degrees at the same time – from the HSE, the University of Sarajevo, and the University of Bologna.

HSE students at the University of Bologna
HSE students at the University of Bologna
We have well-established connections and joint educational and research programmes which have been working for several years, now, but today these are no longer enough. We are working on similar agreements with other European universities, for example, with the University of Twente. The Department is looking for new contacts, and striving to constantly expand geographical academic mobility.

We are not limiting ourselves merely to Europe; our students already have the opportunity to get a certificate in human rights in the US, at George Mason University. But we have further ambitions.

We are interested in the countries where, as in Russia, new approaches are developing. For example, countries in Latin America. We are planning to extend our cooperation with the University of Sao Paulo, which recently hosted the Congress of the International Political Science Association, organized with the European Consortium for Political Research. Our department organized a session at this congress, giving us the perfect opportunity to get to know the university and see at first hand the high quality of research carried out by our colleagues there.

We are at the cutting edge of the global educational process: programmes in public policy exist in Europe and America and the demand for them is high. In 2013 the Central European University is launching the School of Public Policy founded by George Soros. This is more evidence that studying public policy is a global trend, and the quality of our education should be at an international level.

— What are the results of your initial experience of teaching in English?

— This is not our first experience, prior to 2012 one third of our subjects were successfully taught in English by lecturers from our partner universities, including George Mason University and the University of Bologna. Our students have a level of English sufficient for attending lectures. Many of them have had internships in European and American universities, where all courses, or at least some of them, are read in English. That’s why the transition to teaching only in English, without any exception for students or lecturers, turned out to be so successful. We’ve found very good Russian specialists who can read lectures in English without any loss in quality, who have experience of working in international universities and participating in international research conferences.

Of course, some subjects are more difficult for students than others. For example, lectures on quantitative methods of analysis are hard to understand even in your mother tongue, and English has a totally different system of terms. The students were constantly complaining that they understood nothing, but in the end they successfully passed the exam. Nevertheless, it is obvious that we’ll need to create a special glossary for this course.

Another difficulty is a mixed audience consisting both of Russian speakers and international students who know no Russian at all. If we talk about Russian public policy, we inevitably include Russian-language sources, be they the President’s speech, a legal text or talk show on ‘Ekho Moskvy’ radio. And here we understand the necessity of not only translating Russian texts, which is also a specific part of our work, but also giving a detailed explanation of the cultural and historic contexts, which can be confusing for foreigners coming to Russia. But this has a positive aspect: we get the opportunity to look at ourselves from the outside, which is essential for an analyst. And having to compare Russian and English-language academic schools within the framework of one course, at least through explaining the difference in terminology and approaches, is useful not only for students, but also for lecturers.

— What kind of students come to study in English?

— Education in English primarily attracts those foreigners who would like to study in Russia, to study Russia, but do not want or can’t learn Russian, to a level which would enable them to study university courses . Of course, this is not the only reason, but a very important one. Russia remains largely closed to foreigners mainly thanks to the language barrier. English has long ago become the language of international communication, and that’s why students from Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, Thailand, Pakistan, and Ethiopia can study on the same English-language programme.

The interest in our programmes is huge. Students from all over the world participate in the Baltic Practice summer schools, which we have been running for many years now, and many students them enter our programmes after these schools. This year we are organizing a winter school in public policy fully in English for the first time. We’ve received 70 applications from all over the world, and we’ve selected 12 participants from Serbia, Croatia, Macedonia, Thailand, Switzerland, Spain, and Italy.

For Russian-language students there are certain advantages to studying in English. We attract students who want to be part of the global process and want to be involved in international research and have an international career. Or they are already part of the global context, thanks to their work, for example, in international human rights organizations, and they don’t want to lose this connection during their education.

Our students have different life experiences and different first educations, they are graduates of different faculties of different universities, they come from different cities and countries, but they are united by motivation, purpose, and a willingness to get the knowledge set which will allow them to become in-demand specialists. Our graduates work in large business and the media, in human rights organizations and political parties. We actively attract master’s students interested in research, they make presentations at international academic conferences, which is an additional bonus for those who want to build an international career in public policy.

— What difficulties do you face in your work with international students?

— The difficulties are mainly related to organization and bureaucracy: invitations, visas, medical insurance and so on. And in the process of education we face more mundane, everyday issues rather than difficulties. There are students who come here to get knowledge, they are willing to study, attend all their lectures, pass all their exams and actively participate in the life of the department.

But there are also students who decide to relax during their first months and have a good time in Moscow, earning money by giving English lessons. But this is their choice, they are adults, and we cannot force them to study.

Of course, if an international student is unable to bear the study load, we deal with him in the same way as we would a local student.

— Do you employ international lecturers? Are you planning to attract more of them?

— We regularly invite lecturers as part of the exchange programme: our lecturers read courses, for example, at the University of Bologna, and then lecturers from Bologna come here for an equivalent period of time. We also develop joint courses with lecturers from partner universities.

This is our department’s principle – to involve different lecturers in delivering courses, in order to offer the students as many approaches to one problem as possible. And if the lecturers reading a complex joint course represent not only different academic disciplines, but different cultural and academic traditions, it is very enriching for the students.

Thus, education is no longer totalitarian, with one overriding point of view. On the contrary, each student has a choice. This stimulates him to read more, think more about what has been read and heard. And this is what we fight for. Our courses are interactive, and we are looking for a dialogue.

In order to increase diversity at our department, we want our students to come into contact with as many international professors as possible. We do not always invite Italian or American colleagues to visit Russia. A big joint course can be organized as a video conference, where HSE students are sitting in a classroom on Pokrovka Ulitsa in Moscow and watching a lecturer via Skype who is reading a lecture in Virginia, and there are American students in his class joining in with the dialogue. This is how, for example, John Dale from George Mason University works with us.

We hope that the same system of professor exchange or joint courses will be launched with the University of Twente in the near future.

See also:

Political Analysis and Public Policy Programme Leads to Exciting International Career

After graduating two years ago from HSE’s Master’s programme in Political Analysis and Public Policy, Svetlana Kosmakova took a job with the International Committee of the Red Cross as a Migration Program Officer. She recently spoke with Sanjay Rajhans of the HSE News Service about her studies at HSE, the trajectory of her career, and what advice she would offer prospective students in Political Analysis and Public Policy.

Educational Experience in Russia

Matthew Boadi-Ampong from Ghana is a first-year student of Master’s programme in Political Analysis and Public Policy. He has shared his impressions of studying at HSE and living in Russia.

HSE Graduate Applies Lessons to Work in Indonesian Coordinating Ministry for Human Development and Cultural Affairs

Since 2008, Indra Prasetya has been working as Chief of Protocol at the Indonesian Coordinating Ministry for Human Development and Cultural Affairs. A graduate of Gadjah Mada University with a degree in Social and Political Science, the 33-year old native of Kebumen, Indonesia went on to spend two years in the HSE Public Policy Department studying Political Analysis and Public Policy.

Student from Morocco: from Winter School to HSE Master's Program

Hamid Ait-El-Kaid is a second-year student from Morocco of the Master's programme in Political Analysis and Public Policy. His first exposure to HSE took place during a Winter School for prospective students in February 2014. After learning about the Public Policy programme, he decided to apply to HSE.

Migration Expert Stresses Importance of Diversity Ahead of Panel on European Refugee Crisis

On October 22, the HSE Public Policy Department and the Course on Comparative Migration Policy will hold a panel discussion on the European refugee crisis. Dr. Mahama Tawat, Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Social Sciences and a specialist in comparative migration policy, will serve as one of the panel members. Dr. Tawat recently spoke with the HSE news service about his research interests, what attracted him to HSE and his views on tolerance and diversity.

Policymakers Are Like Modern Sisyphuses

On April 13-17, the HSE Public Policy Department will host aseries of lectures by Professor Philippe Zittoun, an internationally recognized expert in policymaking and policy research. He is currently Research Professor in Political Science, University of Lyon (LET-ENTPE); Research Fellow at PACTE, Science Po Grenoble; and Vice-Chair of the Research Committee "Public Policy and Administration" of IPSA. He was a Visiting Professor at Yale University in 2010.

Is Increased Democratization Domestically Linked to Improved Government Performance in Eastern Europe after the Cold War?

Thomas J. Volgy, Professor at the School of Government and Public Policy, University of Arizona USA and Executive Director of the International Studies Association is a political scientist specialising in international politics, democratic processes and domestic public policy. At the XV International April Conference this year Professor Volgy will be delivering two papers, one on his own and one with two fellow academics. We asked him to tell the English News service  more about them and about his work with HSE.

Winter Lessons at HSE

On 31st January to 2nd February 2015 HSE held its annual International Winter School. The Department of Public Policy and Master Programme in Political Analysis and Public Policy headed by professor Nina Belyaeva took part in the event. The Winter School welcomed participants from Germany, France, China, Japan and other countries.

HSE Winter School: The Whole World in Miniature

From January 24 to February 4, HSE's Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs hosted an international winter school. Sixty students from across the globe (Korea, Japan, China, Germany, Italy, Poland, Egypt, Morocco, to name but a few) came together for 12 days and were plunged into the hustle and bustle of daily life in Russia.

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On May 28-29, 2014, an international academic conference ‘Analytical Communities in Policy Advisory Systems at the Global and Local Level: Comparative Analysis of Policy Impact’ took place at the HSE.