Admission Campaign for the International Students: an Interview with Andrey Starodubtsev
Every year the popularity of the Higher School of Economics with the international applicants is growing. We have decided to talk with Andrey V. Starodubtsev, Dean of the School of Social Sciences and Area Studies at the HSE and the Academic Supervisor of the MA Program in Comparative Politics of Eurasia to learn about the peculiarities of admission to our university for international students. If you are thinking of joining us, feel free to read this article!
- Are there any changes this year regarding the international applicants’ admission?
There have been no fundamental changes in the university admission process for international students. The campaign started on November, 1 and will last until August 14, 2020. For those who are interested in studying at the Higher School of Economics in Saint-Petersburg, we recommend to visit the page “International Admissions” on our website, where all the rules are described in detail. They are pretty simple.
There is one thing I’d like to draw your attention to. Although the deadline for applications is mid-August, I recommend you to submit them as soon as possible. This is especially important for applicants who enter MA programs, since they are supposed to have an interview with academic supervisors. The sooner the interview is conducted, the earlier students know whether they have chances to be enrolled in a program.
There are no interviews at the undergraduate level now, which is probably the main novelty of this year. Applicants for BA programs pass exams and, based on results, may enter the program.
- The School of Social Sciences and Area Studies offers programs in four areas - Area Studies, Public Administration, Political Science and Sociology. Which program do you consider the most promising for international applicants?
Firstly, it must be said that the School of Social Sciences and Area Studies is one of the most international faculties of HSE - St. Petersburg, and, maybe, the entire university. We offer a variety of international programs, which is quite unique for Russia. We are proud of having a large number of programs taught in Russian, where Russian - speaking international students can be enrolled in. We also have several programs conducted in English. These are “Political Science and World Politics” and “Sociology and Social Informatics” at the undergraduate level, as well as three MA programs: “Comparative Politics of Eurasia”, “Business and Politics in Modern Asia”, and “Modern Social Analysis”. The latter has a special English-language track on modern quantitative methods of social analysis.
All our programs have a clear focus, so each applicant may find a program that matches her or his professional interests or career plans. For instance, some aim at studying modern states and politics in particular regions, like the programs on Political Science, which are focused on Europe, East Asia and BRICS at the undergraduate level, and the Post-Soviet Space at the master’s level. We have programs on Sociology concentrated on obtaining skills in data analysis. If applicants are planning a non-academic career or are interested in China, they may choose the MA program "Business and Politics in Modern Asia", dedicated to the practical skills of doing business or living in Asia. Our BA in Area Studies, held in Russian, will be an excellent choice for those who see their professional future related to the languages, culture, society of the Middle East and Asia.
Finally, there is a demand for the modern education in public administration. Here we offer two Russian-language programs: BA in Management and Analytics in the Public Sector and MA in Urban Development and Management.
- Isn’t it easier for international students to enter a university in their countries and then come to our university for the international mobility program? 4-year term is quite a long period of time. It may seem that even in a year you can get pretty good knowledge and skills.
Indeed, the international mobility is an important part of studying. Now our students can spend 6 or 12 months in another university to complement our education with some unique knowledge and skills offered by other institutions.
But now we are talking about applicants who have long-term plans: 4 years for undergraduate programs and 2 years for master’s ones. In this case HSE offers excellent opportunities, we are quite experienced in teaching the international students, as well as providing fast and professional support in the international students exchanges.
We have different models of education in terms of tuition fees. Firstly, there are quotas, funded by the Russian Government according to the international agreements. It is a beneficial and convenient option for many students. Secondly, students may be enrolled in a program with a tuition fee. Our advantage is that the fee is the same for international and Russian students, and altogether it is relatively low in comparison to other universities in Europe. It is especially important for undergraduate students, since BA programs are longer and hence more expensive.
- What would you recommend the international students to make a successful choice?
Well, firstly, I would advise undergraduate applicants not to worry much about the specialization they are planning to choose. In my opinion, for undergraduate students it is more important to make a good choice of a university rather than a program, especially in case of Social Sciences. So, this is not about choosing Politics, Area Studies or Sociology. It is about entering the HSE or any other university. Of course, for master’s students the content is more important, as MA programs are shorter and more focused. Here it is crucial to think of how this knowledge will help you in achieving your career goals.
In general, I would recommend to start thinking about this as soon as possible. The more time you devote to preparation, the more alternative options you will have.