Around 1,500 students have graduated from ICEF HSE in its 20 years of existence. According to ICEF Director Sergey Yakovlev, these graduates now live and work in 88 cities and 35 countries. This year, our total number of graduates is unprecedented: we have 171 students who completed the double degree Bachelor’s programme and 29 graduates of the Master’s programme, which is being implemented jointly with the London School of Economics (LSE). About 60% of undergraduate students have received first and second upper class honours degree certificates from the University of London, which attests to the high level of their training. Along with HSE diplomas, the Master’s students also received a certificate letter signed by the new LSE Director, Minouche Shafik, who started her position on September 1 of this year.
As usual, ICEF graduates are already charting their plans for the future. Traditionally, some of them will continue their studies in Master’s programmes at leading universities around the world. It should be noted that, in 2001-2017, over 500 graduates from ICEF Bachelor’s and Master’s programmes continued their studies abroad (about 35%), while over half of them are enrolled at Top-50 global universities. This year, six graduates of ICEF Bachelor’s programmes will go straight into PhD programmes at famous American universities, including Columbia University, Boston University and the University of California. Furthermore, this year’s ICEF graduates have already received job offers from well-known multinationals in various key segments: consulting services, productive industries, finance and IT.
‘Each of you deserves a lot of praise,’ said Sergey Yakovlev while speaking to ICEF graduates at the opening of the awards ceremony, adding: ‘You have worked hard and succeeded! You have mastered a complex programme, which will open up new career prospects for you in any segment of the global economy.’
The ceremony is traditionally held at the residence of the British Ambassador to Russia Laurie Bristow, who has referred to the ICEF HSE Bachelor’s and Master’s programmes as an ‘excellent example of a joint effort by the educational systems’ of both countries.
‘We live in a world of uncertainty and constant change – this concerns both what I am engaged in and what you will be engaged in pretty soon,’ Laurie Bristow told the students. ‘To this end, what really matters now is not only your academic knowledge, but your personal qualities, including one’s flexibility, creativity, leadership skills, ability to adapt in a changing world, and not simply following the changes,’ he said.
He also drew the audience’s attention to the building where the ceremony was held. ‘It was built at the end of the 19th century and, speaking in modern terms, for an oligarch of that time. In October 1944, Churchill and Stalin discussed the course of the war and the concept of the post-war order here. At the end of the 20th century, Queen Elizabeth II entered through these doors during her sole official visit to Russia. And now you are also part of this history, the Ambassador noted, emphasizing: ‘You will remember the people you have met during your studies and the relations that you have developed. No matter what you do in the future, the most important thing, perhaps, are your connections, as well as your ability to expand your horizons and overcome differences.’
HSE President Alexander Shokhin also touched upon the interconnected role of education. Around 20 years ago, he discussed details of the new project at the London School of Economics with Sergey Dubinin (then Head of the Central Bank of Russia and, from the moment of ICEF’s establishment, Chair of the ICEF Board of Trustees). ‘Frankly speaking, we thought that ICEF should be established as a “boutique”. And 25 years ago, HSE itself was designed as such an institution,’ Alexander Shokhin acknowledged. Furthermore, he noted: ‘Who would have thought that HSE might become a university that’s in the same league as MSU, while ICEF might approach the level of LSE! ICEF is a clear proof that no geopolitics can impede humanitarian connections. Furthermore, we can harmonize bilateral political relations and shift geopolitical trends in a favourable direction through this kind of collaboration.’
‘It is not only knowledge that stays with you, but also the ties and relations with your new friends,’ the HSE President noted, adding: ‘I hope that you will hold on to this legacy for many years and remember the university and ICEF as your home.’
Speaking before the graduates, the Vice-Chancellor of the University of London, Professor Sir Adrian Smith, commented on the importance of how knowledge is generated, distributed and effectively used in today’s world with respect to further development in economic, technological and social terms. According to Professor Smith, universities must teach their students relevant skills that are needed for understanding the complexity of today’s ongoing changes. This is necessary not only for their personal success but also to help students to make contributions to solving the most pressing challenges. ‘The University of London is proud to enhance talent development initiatives across the world,’ said Professor Smith, adding: ‘Over 51,000 students have been enrolled in the international programme at the University of London to date, and over 800 students are here, in Russia. I hope that you continue to be part of our international family.’
The London School of Economics sets high standards of education, and ICEF students have proved that they can fully meet these standards, noted LSE Pro-Director Paul Kelly. He said: ‘We see cooperation with HSE as a way of getting involved in Russian education, and the achievements of these students testify to the sustainable success of the LSE and HSE joint project,’ he said while speaking to the graduates, adding: ‘You are lucky to get such an education, and I wish you use this chance for your own benefit, as well as for the benefit of your families, your country and colleagues. Talk about LSE and ICEF whenever you have an opportunity. And, if you become well-off, do not forget to support students and universities.’
‘As graduates of HSE and the University of London, you are responsible for using your expertise for the benefit of those who are deprived of such opportunities,’ noted Pro- Vice-Chancellor of the University of London, Mary Stiasny, adding: ‘I urge you to do your best on a personal, local, national and international level.’
‘Study at ICEF may be compared with an initial investment project, whereby students invest their time and talent into developing personal human capital’, Sergey Dubinin believes. ‘I am sure that you not only studied here at ICEF, but also enjoyed the process itself. I wish you happiness and success in your future work, as it will make you happy in all aspects of life, including family life,’ he said.
HSE First Vice Rector Vadim Radaev noted that ICEF remains a good example and a pioneer in many initiatives that have been expanded at the University-wide level. ’The ICEF team, including Sergey Yakovlev, Oleg Zamkov, all faculty and staff of the College, have done a great job for these past 20 years,’ said Vadim Radaev. He added: ‘They have developed the best degree programmes at the University, which is widely considered the best university in Russia, and surely the best in the field of economics. I would like to thank our British partners who have provided invaluable support to this project for all these years, and also to Sergey Dubinin and Alexander Shokhin, who have promoted it in Russia.’
‘We have kept track of your predecessors,’ added Vadim Radaev while speaking to the graduates, noting: ‘They have pursued different careers, but all of them have become quite successful. I wish you all the best and every success.’
The 2017 ICEF graduates commented on their experience.
I am fond of mathematics and have always been keen to find ways to use it in practice, so I enrolled at a university that would offer such an opportunity. Since the ninth grade, I knew that I will apply to this university – from the very moment I visited the Open Day and decided that I like it here very much. At first, the pace of studies at ICEF was very unusual to me, and it took some time until I got accustomed to it. However, I am very pleased with the results. Today, I am getting my ICEF Bachelor’s diploma аnd will go to Oxford in a couple of days, as I have enrolled in their Master’s programme in financial mathematics. It would be great to stay in the UK after completing my studies, but I don’t object to the idea of returning to Russia.
I received a Bachelor’s, and then a Master’s degree at ICEF. I chose the Master’s programme in order to enhance my expertise, and now I feel very well-equipped at my job in a commercial bank, where I work in the department responsible for liquidity planning. Before applying to ICEF, I had talked with its graduates, and the opportunity to get the second degree from such a well-known university as the University of London was of great importance to me. I would recommend all students interested in applying to ICEF to be ready to really concentrate on their studies. For example, effective time management skills will come in very handy. The ability to analyze large volumes of information must become your second nature. If you try to do your best from the very first year, it will be easier later on. Anyways, it was worth it. I am even thinking about doctoral school now.
I received my first degree in the UK where I went right after graduating from secondary school. I studied in a college at Cambridge, and then I went to the University of Exeter. After that, I returned to Russia to work for two years in an investment company, where I understood that I still have a lot to learn. I am enthusiastic about self-education. ICEF Master’s programme fits all of my criteria. This educational programme follows the same principles as in the UK — there aren’t too many lectures, and there is a lot of self-study. It was more difficult to study mathematics, because here this subject is studied much more in-depth, and I had to work a lot harder. Economics is my family profession because my parents both work in this area, but other opportunities are there as well. For example, a friend of mine is an economist, but in fact, he deals with data analysis as a mathematician. Furthermore, my HSE diploma and a certificate letter from the University of London will allow me to submit applications to any leading university.
At my secondary school, I attended a class with a concentration in biology for two academic years, but I finally understood that I wasn’t too enthusiastic about further study in this area and decided to concentrate on economics and mathematics. I was accepted to the HSE partner Lyceum and heard about ICEF while there. So, I got very interested in this programme. It is very intense and requires a lot of self-study, but one shouldn’t be afraid of this. When you enter into this environment, you see talented and goal-oriented students. So, it gets easier to cope with the workload, because you get motivated, and it becomes very clear what should be done. Anyway, this is what happened in my case, and I’ve never regretted my choice. I arrived to this ceremony from France where I have enrolled in the Master’s programme at HEC Paris Business School, and this is one of the best programmes in finance in the world. I am sure that it was ICEF that helped me to be admitted there – not only because I have received a high-quality education, but also because study at ICEF motivates students to develop, as well as take new courses and internships. I was able to succeed thanks to ICEF.