‘We Invest Into Quality, Not Quantity’
On October 4th the HSE administration and leading scholars hosted the delegation of the Tilburg University (Netherlands). What does the Rector Philip Eijlander think of possible forms of inter-university collaboration?
— What are the main purpose of your arrival and the program of the delegation’s work here?
— Tilburg University (TU) specializes in the fields of economics, management, humanities and social science and we have different kinds of collaboration, exchange programs and joint projects with many universities around the world, but have not worked with Russian schools so far. The only link we have in this country is a student exchange between Moscow State University and TU. So the group consisting of myself and a few deans has arrived to see what it is possible to do here in Russia. We have visited some universities in Moscow including the HSE, and tonight we are going to St.Petersburg.
— Before this business trip you probably did some research on Russian universities. Why did you select the Higher School of Economics?
— I read a lot of materials before this trip. My impression is that this university is very young, modern, interested in international cooperation and partnership ties and planning to invest into research. These are the most important reasons that we are here today. Our collaboration may start from the student exchange programme and develop to include joint research projects and work with PhD students under the supervision of scholars of the both institutions.
— As far as I know, some HSE faculty members have made presentations to your delegation today. What did you find most interesting or promising for future cooperation?
— All the presentations of Russian colleagues were very informative and rewarding. I was very interested in two topics. One is that the university strongly supports international projects by offering courses in English and encouraging Russian students to study abroad. And the other is that the HSE invests a lot of effort into research and international publications.
— Who are the members of the delegation representing Tilburg University in Russia?
— These are the Dean of our School of economics and management, the Dean of the Law School, the Vice-Dean Education of the School of social and behavioral science and the Head of Department Information and Communication of our School of humanities in the group.
This morning I gave a presentation and introduced the scholars from my university to our Russian colleagues so that the deans of Tilburg University could communicate directly with the deans of the HSE. This direct communication is the most important part of our visit. Signing agreements is one thing, but these documents need to be based on practice and real opportunities to work together and learn from each other. This evening we’re going to discuss our impressions and I’m intrigued to know what conclusions we draw.
— The university was founded in 1927 and the starting point was the School of Economics. Later the university grew not only in Economics and management, but also in Law, Social sciences and humanities. It’s a specialized university as we have no departments of hard science or medicine. It’s also a small university if we compare it to the major universities of Netherlands. We have about 13000 students and our philosophy is “small but good” so we actually are not planning to grow. However, we want to attract more international students. At the moment 10% of 13000 students are from other countries. We believe that the best way for personal and academic development is to work in the international environment, when students from Asia, Latin America, Russia and the EU study together. We also believe in combining educational process with research starting from Bachelor’s level.
— You have probably heard that the competition for students between Russian universities is rising. What’s the situation in Netherlands? As far as I know, you don’t struggle for students.
— No, we don’t. We invest into quality, not quantity. It’s obvious that the larger the audience, the worse the quality of education. Besides, we want to make time for research. When the number of students is increasing, you are too busy teaching them to leave enough time for research. We think the number of students we have now is optimal so our goals are to raise their educational level and attract talented students from countries we are interested in.
— But enrollment figures in Russia are key to a university’s survival. What’s the situation in Netherlands with this? What is financial side of university activity?
— Our budget is made up of 50% state funding and also we receive money from European Union funding for research, and about 30% of our money is from the private sector, i.e. companies who cooperate with us and from our partners and alumni.
— Do your students pay tuition fees?
— Yes, they do. Dutch students and students from other EU countries pay 2000 Euros per year. Students from outside the EU pay 6000 Euros a year for their Degree courses and 10,000 Euros for Master’s programmes.
— Since you have been developing international partnership ties with various universities of the world, it would be good to know if you have a sort of cooperation model in mind.
— First of all, we have to select the countries we’re interested in as one can’t ‘conquer the whole world’ and our university is too small for this task. After discussing all the pros and cons we selected China, Russia, Brazil, Turkey and Germany. Then we made the list of the strongest universities and those with the greatest future potential in these countries and then considered those with educational profiles close to ours – with a strong emphasis on economics and management. Our strategy is to develop productive partnership relations with these universities.
— What are your general impressions about the meetings and discussions with the HSE administration and faculty?
— I have had a very good conversation with the HSE Rector, Yaroslav Kuzminov. We discussed concrete, practical questions and suggestions. My general impression is that the HSE may be the best university in Russia for Tilburg University, because it’s a specialized institution with a similar profile, because it’s a research institution and because it’s so active and interested in international cooperation.
Valentina Gruzintseva, HSE News Service
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