The Higher School of Economics (HSE) is a national research university, which has achieved not only national, but global success. Over the years of its existence, HSE has developed traditions, values, victories, academic stars, and prepared over 70,000 graduates.
We believe that you’ll join this number soon, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves! You’ve just successfully passed all the entrance exams (congratulations as this isn’t an easy accomplishment!), and you are at the start of a very long journey. The most interesting things lie ahead!
HSE was founded in 1992 at the initiative of a team of scholars, who were supported by the Russian government. HSE was created as an institution of higher education specializing in economic matters, and that’s why, at first, it provided instruction in economics, law, and sociology. And while the name remains the same and sometimes confuses those just learning about the university for the first time, HSE has changed a lot over the years. Today, HSE offers education not only in economics, but also in mathematics, programming, political science, history, philology, philosophy, Asian studies, engineering, and physics, as well as in design, journalism, urban studies, cultural studies and psychology. Moreover, new specializations are being added every year. We still don’t teach doctors and geologists, but we plan to fix this someday (indeed, HSE is a very ambitious institution!)
HSE is almost like a country within a country. It’s a large, complex structure where anyone, be it a school student or a Nobel Prize winner, can find something of interest. Soon, you’ll see it with your own eyes. HSE has a lyceum (high school) and is affiliated with many high schools across Russia. The university’s laboratories are actively engaged in research projects and make discoveries, which garner the attention of many international academic journals. HSE experts participate in applied research, as well as make short- and long-term forecasts in regards to various fields of study. And, most importantly, HSE offers undergraduate and Master’s programmes, as well as doctoral programmes, business courses, and many continuing education opportunities. Student life is an essential part of HSE, with its numerous student clubs and university-wide festivals and events, where you’ll most probably be a participant as soon as you get settled in here.
And now, when you are so happy that you are studying at such a great academic institution, we’d like to remind you about one important thing. Being an HSE student is not only a big achievement, but also a major responsibility. Don’t forget that the university’s reputation depends on what you say and do.
To let you know how everything works here, we’ve prepared this FAQ with answers to key questions. It will help you get used to life at HSE, investigate the opportunities available, and pursue the most interesting of them.
So, What Are the Rules?
Over the 26 years of its existence, HSE has defined its values, which are shared by all of its students and staff, even if their views or opinions may contradict (and this actually happens quite often). Commitment to these values is the main rule that should be remembered.
Striving for Truth. Attainment of truth by the effective application of all available academic knowledge is HSE’s main objective.
Collaboration and Commitment to Each Another. And we don’t just mean your immediate peers at HSE, but all colleagues throughout the academic community.
Honesty and Openness. Objectivity and honesty, as well as zero tolerance to discrimination, corruption or double standards are key principles pursued by HSE students and staff.
Academic Freedom and Political Neutrality. HSE doesn’t impose any academic methodologies and standards, and supports the exchange of any opinions and ideas if they are academically grounded. HSE is often a platform for debates and meetings with politicians and public figures, but all participants must be polite and friendly, and use arguments rather than simply slogans.
Professionalism, Self-discipline and Accountability. If you’re enrolled at HSE, you shouldn’t slow down, but be prepared to work all the time (including self-development). Of course, enrollment is an important step, but more important things include not dropping out, taking everything from your studies, and not forgetting to enjoy the process.
Being Socially Active. As a Russian university, we work for the good of Russia and its citizens. We are part of Russian society, not only as observers, but active participants in the country’s development and improvement.
You can read more about HSE’s values here.
Our university’s mascot is ‘The Crow’. It became HSE’s mascot in 1996, when artist Anna Arenstein drew the picture ‘Faculty Meeting,’ which portrayed a HSE administrators’ meeting as a group of crows. This became the prototype for the university’s symbol, which gains more and more mythical status with every passing year.
Today, you can find the Crow on HSE souvenirs, and as a guest at all major HSE events, and winners of the annual Golden HSE award receive a Crow figurine as a prize.
Every academic year, HSE hosts major university-wide events, which bring together students, lecturers and staff, as well as provide an opportunity for everyone to feel part of the extended HSE family.
HSE Day in Gorky Park (September)
This is the main festival of the year at HSE, where the whole of Moscow is invited. On this day, Moscow’s iconic Gorky Park turns into a big university campus, where freshmen pass initiation, lectures are read, questions from prospective students and their parents are answered, sports events and workshops are held, and songs and dances are performed. On this day, you’ll have a chance to run your first 5km together with your classmates and professors as part of the HSE race. The day’s culmination is an evening concert by a popular performer, whose name stays a secret until the very last moment. At previous HSE Days, we set the dancefloor on fire with groups like Gradusy, Noize MC, Zveri, Splin, and Bi 2. This year, we’ll be dancing on September 13. Please mark this date down!
Golden HSE (November)
People are the most important and interesting resource of any university. With this in mind, HSE annually awards the most active, hard-working, forward-looking and influential of them with a special award - the ‘Golden HSE’. Candidates may be nominated by any department, and the winners are selected by a jury vote, which includes representatives of all department and campuses.
355 was the total number of candidates nominated for the Golden HSE last year, and this is a record figure. Still, the number of talents at HSE is growing with every passing year.
Noch (‘Night’) Festival (November)
The Noch Festival is a revival of the traditional ‘Night at the Cultural Centre,’ which used to bring together all HSE students and staff up until 2014. The programme of last year’s Noch was so big, that hardly anyone couldn’t find an activity to their taste. Here are just a few examples: research battles, talk shows with blogger Nikolay Sobolev and the CEO of Dozhd TV Natalia Sindeeva, scary quests, office basketball, ‘soul mating’ and much more.
HSE Snow Fest (February)
Every winter, HSE takes over a ski slope to let students, lecturers and staff ride there. Before 2017, this event was called ‘HSE Winter Health Day,’ and many still know it by this name. But no matter the name, it remains the most athletic and most winter holiday for the HSE community.
650 was the total number of people who gathered at HSE Snow Fest on a single slope in 2018.
April Conference (April)
The April Conference has been held at HSE every year since 2000. Of all conferences in the social sciences organized in Russia, it is the biggest in terms of total participants and the involvement of the global academic community. While HSE Day is the main student event of the year, the April Conference is also quite important event (and no less thrilling) for the entire HSE community.
Vote for the Best Teachers (May)
University-wide contests, where students and graduates can vote for the best, favorite and most professional lecturers.
HSE Graduation Party (June)
This is a summer party where HSE acknowledges its alumni on their graduation. Over the last few years, the theme of the party was dedicated to a recent piece of pop culture (e.g., Back to the Future, the James Bond series, the worlds of Star Wars and Harry Potter, etc.), where its guests had a chance to feel like characters from these iconic films and books. The theme of the forthcoming graduation party is a secret, but anyone can make suggestions and place bets on what it will be.
5 is the number of large university-wide graduation parties that have been organized by HSE. At these events, you might even meet the university’s Rector with a magic wand or dressed as a Jedi.