QTEM Students on Distance Learning Abroad and Koala Hugs
HSE University - Saint Petersburg has been participating in the QTEM international Master's network since 2017. Students study abroad and complete internships at foreign companies to learn how to use quantitative methods in management and economics. The Editorial Office spoke with three QTEM students about their experience switching to online learning while studying in other countries.
About the QTEM track
QTEM (Quantitative Techniques for Economics and Management Master’s Network) is an international master's network bringing together 25 graduate programmes of different universities worldwide, all of which focus on teaching students how to work with quantitative methods in economics and management. QTEM students can study abroad at the Technical University of Munich, the Free University of Brussels, and even Waseda University in Tokyo. In addition, there is an internship requirement which students can fulfill at one of 15 world-known partner companies, such as McKinsey & Company and Deloitte.
Each selected student may choose one of three curriculums which include a semester abroad at a foreign university and an internship at a QTEM partner company. Find more information about the competitive selection process on the admissions page.
Students of the QTEM track learn how to conduct quantitative analyses. They learn how to make data-based managerial decisions in an international business context. Internships help students gain practical experience and learn how to deal with real business cases. As a result, participants receive a certificate from QTEM, which can be provided to employers as a diploma supplement.
How to apply
Students of the 'Management and Analytics for Business', 'Applied Economics and Mathematical Methods', and 'Finance' programmes can apply to QTEM. The new programme 'International Business' will join QTEM in autumn 2020. To find out more about the selection process, visit this page.
Dmitry Novichkov, first-year student of the 'Finance' Master's Programme:
I was a 3rd-year student of the 'Economics' Bachelor's programme at HSE St. Petersburg when I decided to continue my master's studies abroad. However, I had a lot of work in my final year: final exams, an internship at PwC, and my thesis. I would not have had enough time to apply to Master's programmes in Europe, where admission deadlines are earlier. Therefore, I decided to apply to the QTEM network master's programme and chose the 'Finance' programme, where students have the opportunity to be admitted into QTEM.
I do not regret my choice; it turned out to be the right one. If I had applied to a Master's programme abroad, I would have had to take some general courses required for the programme. I did not want that since I had already taken a lot of extra courses during my Bachelor's. At the same time, QTEM does not limit my choice when it comes to choosing courses. First, I can study only the subjects I am interested in and that are important for my career development. Second, in QTEM you can take not only courses of the 'Finance' programme but also courses from related areas, for example, data analysis and management. In fact, I got access to subjects from various specialized programmes in Europe.
I started my first semester at Tilburg University in the Netherlands. While studying there, I significantly developed my soft skills. I lived in a dormitory for international and Erasmus students, and we were also divided into groups and had mentors, who organized our leisure activities. It helped me become fluent in English, understand how to interact with people of different cultures and worldviews, which are essential attributes of effective communication. Teamwork in a group of exchange students is hard since people do not know each other very well, so they question everything. We had to discuss even minor details for a long time to get the result. I gained valuable experience with team management and working with different people.
I started my studies in the Netherlands, but then the coronavirus pandemic hit. QTEM and my host university did not require us to leave the country and continue our studies remotely from our home country. Students themselves decided whether to stay in the Netherlands or go home. I decided to go back for the sake of my security and my family's mental health.
Currently, I am continuing my training at Tilburg University remotely. The University took a long time to move online, because it acted only after the Dutch government made official decisions. That is why students could not understand what would happen with their spring exams. Many went home at their own risk even before the information about exams was announced, because they were afraid their flights would get cancelled.
I think that the university informed us about moving the educational process online late. It happened in late March, but by that time it was crystal clear that the situation with the pandemic was not going to improve. I do not think it is a good moment. It seems to me that HSE - St. Petersburg handled the situation much better: it closed all its campuses in time and moved the educational process online.
There are also positive aspects. Tilburg University classrooms have been equipped with stuff for recording lectures and seminars for a very long time. Currently, I have 2 courses. One of my professors used the equipment to record his lectures, and then he placed them on Canvas, a university platform (similar to our LMS but more advanced). It was funny to hear his comments about how sad and lonely he felt while giving a lecture in an empty classroom and how he insisted that we have a coffee break. The second professor gives his lectures and seminars via Zoom - Tilburg University bought the subscription promptly.
Sergey Guryanov, second-year student of the 'Big Data Analysis in Business, Economy, and Society’ Master’s Programme:
In 2020, there will be no student admissions to the programme, 'Big Data Analysis in Business, Economy, and Society'. To learn more about other graduate programmes, please visit the international admissions page.
The opportunity to have an internship at an international company was my main motivation for earning a QTEM degree. I also wanted to study and live in the UK for a while.
I studied at Exeter University in the UK. There I visited many destinations, including Stonehenge and Liverpool, and, in general, I gained the amazing experience of living and studying abroad. I would consider learning a foreign language and developing communication skills to be a rewarding experience. Among the courses I took there, 'Behavioural Economics' really stood out. There we wrote a little application in Python to identify cooperative and egoistic behaviour in the 'Public Goods Game' from the experimental economy. It was fascinating.
I came back to Russia in January, so distance learning did not affect me in the UK. I had an internship at Rostelecom (learn more about HSE - Saint Petersburg's partnership with Rostelecom and the QTEM consortium here). The internship was held remotely since the company is based in Moscow. My duty was to analyze HR interviews so that the company could understand the motivation behind staff dismissals, and what employees liked and disliked. I also worked with the classification of comments about the company's activities. I sent the completed work via e-mail once a week and received comments or suggestions for changes.
I was disappointed that I could not do an internship abroad. The difficulties became clear only when I was admitted to the QTEM track and started looking for internships at international companies. I had been looking for one in the list of QTEM international partners since the middle of last summer, but my emails and calls wer never returned. Once I managed to contact one of the companies through the head office. I got an internship offer, but it had nothing to do with the area I was interested in. When they found out that I was from Russia, they refused to assist me with a work permit because I had a study visa. It turns out that it is difficult to count on anything unless you have a work visa.
Kirill Eremeev, second-year student of the 'Finance' Master's Programme:
I was drawn to the QTEM track because of the great partner universities involved and the opportunity to develop my global network of contacts and experience a different cultural environment. I had my first exchange semester in Australia, where I studied at the Business School of Monash University in Melbourne. Most of all I liked the course in Mergers and Acquisitions, which was based on real cases and taught by professors who had a real experience with working with transactions. There was an amazing course, 'Investment Fund Management', taught by a practising consultant of existing funds.
I had an internship in the Finance Department of the Setl Group development company. During the internship, I participated in the optimization of the management accounts format, studied the pricing of residential real estate, and calculated the investment project of a shopping centre. In the QTEM track, I strengthened my intercultural skills, because I communicated with people from every corner of the world every day. I improved my English and realized that I could live and work in an English-speaking environment without any issues. I can say that adjusting to a new environment is an extremely rewarding experience. Having lived five months so far from home, I now know that I can do it again anywhere.
My best non-academic experiences were hugging kangaroos and koalas, swimming in the Pacific Ocean, tasting the cuisines of multicultural Melbourne, spending holidays in Sidney and enjoying the Sydney opera, and spending a whole day in the Blue Mountains.
I was supposed to spend the second semester at the University of Warwick's Business School in the UK, but due to the pandemic, it was moved online. The semester starts on April 24, so I have nothing to comment about distance learning there now. Previously, even before there was any news about distance learning, I registered on the University's learning platform (similar to LMS). I can say that communication was smooth, and the university promptly reacted to the current situation.