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«The Level of Education Must Conform To Labour Market Demands»

The Vice-Rector of the National Research University “Higher School of Economics”, Sergey Roshchin, told STRF.ru about the novelties in the bachelor’s and master’s programs, as well as online courses of one of Russia’s leading universities.

Sergey_Roshchin Sergey Roshchin

Sergey, what changes await students and listeners of the HSE in the new academic year?

- This year we have expanded our range of English-language programs. In the Moscow campus, we have started a new bachelor’s program in International Relations in cooperation with the University of London. This program is completely in English, it was established in accordance with the best international and Russian educational standards.

Were there any difficulties with enrolling students due to the fact that the program is taught entirely in English?

- No, there weren’t. Since it is a new program, our forecasts for the first enrollment were quite restrained. But there was high demand, and we decided to increase the number of positions.

Earlier we had only one such Bachelor’s program in Economics, which is implemented in cooperation with the London School of Economics. However, the HSE intends to continue to develop in this direction, and not dwell on these two completely English programs.

In your opinion, what percentage of undergraduate programs in the Russian university can be completely in English?

- It's not a question of quantity. We must talk about the quality of these programs, about the direction of education for which they were created, about the partners.

The main thing is that these programs should provide high quality training, this will enable us to balance the Russian tradition and those of the global education market.

And then these programs will be feasible and popular.

Will there be any transformation in other subject areas?

- Changes are taking place in various sectors of the labor market. For example, modern media communications are actively developing in the digital environment, which has a completely different view of work with data. Considering the request from the market, we have launched a program on data journalism, for which there is strong demand on the part of applicants.

A new program for government organization human resource management was created because of growing importance of training personnel for the modern public sector.

It should be understood that changes occur in all programs, including those that were introduced some years ago, we regularly update our curriculum to the level of preparation of graduates to meet the demands of the labor market.

We continue to develop a new model of bachelor program, which was introduced in 2014. Its essence lies in the fact that in addition to the main subject, constituting the core of a future professional career of students, they study a bunch of other disciplines that expand the range of knowledge, form an additional area of interest. We called these additions the minors. In the second and third year of education, students of undergraduate programs are able to freely choose from over 20 different additional programs.

We see that the number of such minors is in high demand, such as the disciplines connected with data analysis, finance, management, humanities. Each year we update and refine the list of minors that students can choose.

Do you plan to start new online courses?

- Online courses introduced by the University over the past three years, primarily focused on two platforms, including Coursera international platform and “Open Education” national platform.

24 courses of HSE teachers and researchers are now available on the National Platform, there are 46 disciplines in Russian and English on Coursera. This year, we will significantly increase the number of these disciplines. Thus, everyone will be able to study some subjects that are taught at the HSE, without entering the university.

When the “Open Education” platform was just being developed, the point was that with its help universities will be able to share their best practices, and the passed online disciplines will be equal to the ones in the university. Are there many students that use this option? Or do they mostly use these courses for self-development?

- A few students were able to take advantage of this option. It’s not a question to the students but to the universities that should equal discipline. The HSE took all the necessary regulations quite a long time ago, four years ago, and if the student brings the proof that s/he passed an online course, we consider it as a basic educational program.

On the Coursera platform, the HSE has such a new project, as a specialization. How is it different from regular courses?

- It’s a new project of Coursera, and not only is the HSE involved here.

Specializations combine a block of disciplines that focus on different application training.

It is not general education courses, but subjects related to the development of specific professional skills. We participated in the competition for Coursera possibility of creating such specializations and now we implement two financially orientated specializations, including “Financial Instruments for the Private Investor” and ”Corporate Finance and the Company’s Value”. And there is another one being implemented in collaboration with the University of San Diego, which involved our teachers on computer science. It’s called Data Structures and Algorithms.

That is, the product is not for students, but rather for professionals who are already working, and they need to improve their skills, isn’t it?

- Not really. They can be useful to students because specializations provide additional knowledge, form additional abilities, skills, competencies that can and must be demanded in actual practice. But, of course, they are primarily intended for people who are in the professional sphere, and who are interested in it. That was the essence of the specialization project.

Are there any plans to create more specializations in the near future?

- Perhaps. There are no certain decisions for now, but in general in the course of this year, the HSE will expand its representation on the national platform, and on the number of courses on Coursera.

Will the same areas be developed? The ones, in which the HSE has already been introduced?

- There will be new ones as well. We have a wide range of areas where we are well represented, and we will develop or elaborate them. That’s all for the economy and finance. In computer science, we are presented with only one specialization, but we will significantly develop this area. The same applies to the cognitive sciences, neuropsychology, mathematics and some humanities.

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