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Key Things to Know About the New International Bachelor's in Business and Economics

In 2021, a new unique bachelor’s programme called ‘International Bachelor's in Business and Economics’ was launched at HSE – Saint Petersburg. This programme is the result of a merging of the previous bachelor's programmes in Economics and International Business and Management. In this interview, Elena Shakina, Dean of the St.Petersburg School of Economics and Management, revealed to us how the modified undergraduate programme will help students to acquire the most competitive and actual skills, as well as mentioned the benefits of its partnership with VK, a famous Russian internet company.

Key Things to Know About the New International Bachelor's in Business and Economics

© HSE University – St Petersburg

— Why it was decided to merge the existing programmes into a unified International Bachelor’s in Business and Economics?

— Well, first of all, it’s about the current labour market trends. Since there’s a growing number of tasks that lie at the intersection of different professional areas, more and more companies are on the lookout for universal specialists. Hence, being just an economist or a manager is no longer enough. 

Besides, we wanted to make the application process easier for prospective students. We understand that many high school graduates have a hard time choosing their first degree programme, especially when the programmes are so closely interrelated. Graduates often ask themselves: 'Should I opt for Economics, Logistics in Supply Chain Management, or go for International Business and Management?' This, indeed, is not an easy question.

The new Bachelor’s in Business and Economics makes study choice easy for students, as by choosing the broad domain they don’t have to choose the definite graduation major until the second year, avoiding making a 'wrong choice' at the start of their studies. Hence, this gives them more time to focus on their studies and see what tracks they are most good at, without losing time or having to switch programmes or even institutions.

— What trends did you follow when creating the programme?

— Starting the year 2022, at the St. Petersburg School of Economics and Management, we’ve decided to implement the so-called ‘broad bachelor's degree programme'. Despite being new for Russian educational institutions, such programmes are in high demand in many counties around the globe and have already proved to yield great results.

There are, of course, other higher education trends that can be observed in different countries. For example, there is the so-called ‘pipe programme’ at which students don't need to choose subjects themselves – they just follow a predetermined pathway. There are as well ‘liberal arts’ programmes that are typical for American and Anglo-Saxon educational systems. In that case, students have to decide which modules they are most interested in from a wide range of subjects.

Implementing broad bachelor’s degree programmes is a commonly adopted practice in European business schools. For example, in Spanish University Pompeu Fabra and the University of Tor Vergata. And all these universities are our partners. But we don't want to stop here, so we are holding negotiations with three more major European business schools as well.

— The word ‘business’ appeared in the name of the programme, but now there is no ‘management' component mentioned. What is it connected with?

— The name of the programme does not reflect all of its content. The idea was to highlight the major components of the programme with the following three words – economics, business, international.

The most meaningful word in the title is ‘economics’. This subject is a key component of our educational programme. Knowing economics at a high level will help graduates get proficient in analytics
and occupy high positions. 

The word ‘business’ indicates that we nurture industry-ready professionals. Since a vast majority of applicants request this opportunity, we try our best to respond to their wishes. But this does not mean that graduates are limited to working in a corporate sector only. 

‘International’ is another word we used at the very beginning of the title. By this we mean that all our students receive international experience. There is an opportunity to participate in a joint project with foreign students, commissioned by an international company, embark on an exchange programme for one semester, or opt for a double degree programme to live and study abroad for a year in another country. 

We provide our students with broad knowledge and hands-on skills in both economics and management. Today's managers need to have knowledge of economics to better understand analytics, local markets and the environment around the company. As for economists, they need to master managerial competencies to ensure a rapid career growth. Being highly motivated and talented, upon graduation our students receive all that is needed to jump-start a successful career!

— I was told that the Broad Bachelor’s Programme is also available at the HSE campuses in Perm and Nizhny Novgorod. What distinguishes the St. Petersburg-based programme from them?

— You are right, there are three HSE campuses involved in the Broad Bachelor’s project at the same time, but each programme is unique because of a different range of professional tracks. 

For example, the Bachelor's Programme 'The New International Bachelor's in Business and Economics' based in HSE — St. Petersburg offers tracks on how to create a business from scratch and make data-driven decisions. We are also opening a very interesting track on financial analytics and business economics, as well as advanced economic analysis. At the same time, the HSE Perm and Nizhny Novgorod campuses specialise in other areas which are no less engaging.

The good news is that the tracks from other HSE campuses are also available for students who enroled in St. Petersburg. It is a completely unique experience to study at another campus for a year, and maybe even do a business internship there.

Besides, at the St. Petersburg campus, we place internalisation efforts at the forefront. For example, our programme is the only one that offers tracks for double diplomas. There are also many universities we partner with for international academic mobility. And, finally, so far only our programme is taught entirely in English.

— Is it possible to receive two qualifications within one programme? 

— The most important thing is that there is no strict division into either economics or management at all from the beginning of the studies.

Until the second year, inclusive, the curriculum remains the same. It will include subjects in both economics and management. Then, students are to choose professional tracks and dive deeper into areas that interest them the most.

On each professional track, students are given an opportunity to get a double major – in both economics and management. To accomplish this, they are to choose disciplines at the intersection of these areas and defend a diploma on a related topic. Once the thesis is defended, both qualifications will be recorded in their diploma, this will certainly provide some extra bonuses when headhunting. It is not necessary to take two majors at once. Here we also provide a choice, as we believe that deciding on a major requires some time and research. 

— Will there be any differences in the educational process?

— The content of the program has changed, but HSE core educational technologies remain the same. Our students get a chance to participate in various intercampus disciplines allowing them to get to know the whole university. This means that students are free to attend online lectures by the well-known professors from the Moscow, Nizhny Novgorod and Perm campuses.

It is important that the programme focuses on real-life tasks. During undergraduate studies, each student takes part in at least four different projects. Not all of them are business-related; there are volunteering, educational, and analytical ones as well. Such projects help to gain useful skills for the labour market, develop important leadership qualities and teamwork skills, and contribute to the internal growth of each student.

— We have already touched upon the programme's tracks, but still, how many of them will be present?

— At least seven, we will add more details regarding the tracks on the programme official page. Actually, we plan to further expand the list of tracks: the labour market can change a lot in two years, and we need to be ready for this. If it becomes clear there is a need to add other tracks, we will do it. 

— What language will the classes be held in?  

— This is an English-language programme, but in the first and second year, it will be possible to choose subjects taught in Russian. That is, those who are not confident enough in their knowledge of the English language can leverage that extra time to brush up on their language skills. From our side, we will create all the conditions for that. In the third and fourth years, studies are completely in English.

English has become the main language in the programme not for nothing. The knowledge base on economics and management is created mainly in English. Therefore, being proficient in English is becoming the standard of modern business. For employers, this is also an advantage: they will understand that the candidate can easily use English in their professional activities.

In addition, knowledge of English gives more employment prospects. The students can get a job in an international company or can enrol in an English-language master's programme, and then, if they wish so, continue on a PhD level.

— What opportunities does the programme offer to the winners of Olympiads?

— There is a special ‘PAN project - a program of increased academic load’. This project allows talented students to gain additional knowledge in related disciplines – computer science, design, psychology and linguistics. It also allows them to dive deeper into management and economics if there is such a request. 

Becoming a prize-winner in some of the Olympiads give the right to enter the HSE without exams, the main thing is to score at least 75 points in the profile subject at the Unified State Examination (Russian analogue of A-level examination). An alternative is to get 100 points in the core subject of the Olympiad. Bonuses depend on the competition. The current list of Olympiads can be found on the official website of the admission committee

— What international opportunities are available for students of the programme?  

— There are double degree agreements with Tor Vergata University in Rome and Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona. The most promising third and fourth-year students can study at a foreign university for a year. In case they successfully defend their thesis abroad and at HSE, they will receive diplomas from two universities at once.

At the same time, all students of our programme who do not have academic debts can go abroad for academic mobility. Students live abroad for at least one semester, get to know peers from other countries, get a different look at the education system and acquire new knowledge, as well as invaluable international experience. This is a significant advantage both for future admission to the master’s degree and for employment. The students grow up, get a wider perspective on various things, what can be more important?

— I know that the programme has a strategic partner. What company is it?

— This is VK, one of the leading digital companies in Russia. The company is pretty diverse, and many HSE graduates aspire to join it. We are very pleased that we have reached this agreement. Since the company has a strong influence in the Russian market, this partnership allows the programme to correspond with the latest market requirements.

We expect to get the best internship places for our students. This means that the students will be able to try their hand in the work of different departments of the company and will receive knowledge from industry professionals. There are also plans to integrate VK's online educational projects into our new bachelor's programme. 

— Could you tell us what kind of applicants you would like to enrol in the programme?

— The main thing for us is motivation and the interest in developing a fast and successful career in business and beyond. We will make every effort to ensure that our students are successful after graduation and will support them in every possible way, but first of all, they will need to show strong motivation. 

And, of course, we must not forget about the A-level exams in mathematics and a foreign language. But if the basic knowledge of the applicant is strong, as well as the motivation, the candidate will be able to study with us.