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Regular version of the site

Alliance of 4 Plus the HSE

On October 10th HSE staff met with representatives of the Alliance of 4 Universities of Spain (A-4U): the Autonomous University of Barcelona, the Autonomous University of Madrid, Charles III University of Madrid and the Pompeu Fabra University. Boris Zhelezov, Deputy Vice Rector of the HSE, told us about the outcomes of the meeting.

— Mr. Zhelezov, what was the topic of your meeting with our Spanish colleagues?

— The meeting about potential cooperation with the universities of the alliance. The four universities (the Autonomous University of Barcelona, the Autonomous University of Madrid, Charles III University of Madrid and the Pompeu Fabra University) have recently come together in an alliance, and one of their purposes was the active development of international activities and cooperation with universities of around the world. The main task of their alliance is to create and develop global research cooperation and promote the international mobility of students and researchers from leading international research institutions and the alliance member universities. The Alliance of 4 Universities is supported by the Spanish government and collaborates with the Spanish Institute for Foreign Trade and the Spanish National Research Council. The purpose of their trip to Russia, including their visit to the Higher School of Economics, was to outline areas and potential for cooperation. In our university their suggestions were well recieved at most of the faculties. Representatives from different faculties came to the meeting and expressed their interest in cooperating with these universities.

— What, in your view, is the advantage of such institutional associations?

— The advantage of such alliances is that they increase the possible points of intersection between various faculties and institutes, while the coordination and distribution of experience are carried out through one ‘entrance point’ – one administrative junction. Representatives from the HSE Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs have shown a definite interest in cooperating with the Spanish side, since an Iberian Center is being created at their faculty with the support of Santander, the largest Spanish bank. In addition to this, some prospects for cooperation were outlined with our Faculties of Philosophy, Sociology, Public Administration, Economics, Software Engineering, and the International College of Economics and Finance. And today we are probably on the threshold of new collaboration. There is a preliminary agreement on the creation of a double degree programme with the School of Software Engineering as well as a master’s and aspirantura student exchange programme between the alliance universities and our Faculty of Philosophy, and possible student exchanges in economics and finance programmes. Our university already has some experience of working with a consortium, and it has been successful. As part of our cooperation with the consortium of four French universities (Paris 1 Pantheon-Sorbonne, Paris 4 Paris-Sorbonne, Paris Nanterre, Paris 12 Val de Marne) various projects have been developed, primarily concerning internships and double degree programmes in sociology, political science and economics.

— What is interesting about each of the members of the Spanish alliance?

— The Charles III University of Madrid is one of the six state universities of the autonomous community of Madrid which was founded in 1989. It is well-known thanks to its international outlook, quality of teaching and research, especially in human and social sciences. The university’s experience of adapting to the Bologna system is also interesting: they offer bilingual degrees taught both in English and Spanish in economics, business, actuary, finance and industrial telecommunication.

The Autonomous University of Barcelona is one of the country’s largest academic centers. The university offers education through 80 undergraduate and 200 master’s and doctoral programmes. According to the QS global ranking, the university is one of the world’s best universities, and is rated second among the universities of Spain.

The Autonomous University of Madrid is a modern state university which is on the list of the world’s top 200 universities, and its strategy is related to the modern concept of sustainable development and environmental protection. The university cooperates closely with various NGOs and non-commercial organizations.

The Pompeu Fabra State University holds an important position in the Spanish system of higher education. The university includes a strong economics school which is based on the application of qualitative methods and methods of statistical and mathematical analysis. Education is carried out in Catalan, Spanish and/or English. According to the International Ranking Expert Group 2009, the university is number one in terms of the level of academic research in Spain.

— Are we yet speaking exclusively about educational partnership, or are there some prospective research projects?

— Most of our partners say that long-term cooperation should be based on educational initiatives, particularly when we speak about the academic component, about cooperating in the supervision of undergraduate internships. In Western universities, PhD students are the driving force of research projects. Accordingly, for them cooperation in science is primarily cooperation in preparing doctoral theses. International colleagues build their impression of the academic level of potential partners based on both the student level and an evaluation of educational programmes, and then decide whether to discuss research cooperation. Research cooperation more easily is formed at scientific conferences where academics from different countries get to know each other and find like-minded people: science today is usually based on individual studies and individual interests. And educational projects are more often launched through administrative initiatives. That’s why the delegations at this meeting included people responsible for the universities’ international cooperation capable of coordinating the collaboration. The next step is to exchange further information on the topics which were outlined today, in order to develop a specific programme of cooperation.

Liudmila Mezentseva, HSE News Service

Photos by Nikita Benzoruk

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