On September 13, 230 graduates of ICEF-UoL Bachelor’s and Master’s programmes received their diplomas. The history of HSE's collaboration with the London School of Economics of the University of London spans more than 20 years and demonstrates the integral role that international cooperation between universities plays in academic, research, and cultural development. The graduates of 2018 are sure to continue this tradition.
The International College of Economics and Finance (ICEF) was established within the Higher School of Economics in 1997, with the participation of the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and the University of London (UoL), as well as the support of the Russian business community. Since then, ICEF has risen in the international research and education community. It engages professors and assistant professors from leading universities around the world and its graduates have gone on to become professors at the universities of London, Stanford, Georgetown, Paris, Vienna, Florida, Lausanne, HSE and NES. Graduates are also employed at leading banks and companies, such as McKinsey, VTB, Sberbank, Alfa Bank, KPMG, PWC, IBM, J.P. Morgan, BCG, Morgan Stanley, Citi and BNP Paribas.
The 2018 cohort continued this impressive tradition and ICEF Director, Dr Sergey Yakovlev, recognised their successes in his official opening speech at the graduation ceremony. ‘I warmly congratulate all our students,’ said Dr Yakovlev. ‘The Bachelor and Master’s programmes at ICEF are renowned for being challenging and this year’s graduates have demonstrated their determination and intellect in successfully completing them.’
Dr Yakovlev was joined in congratulating the cohort by the Deputy Head of the UK Mission to Russia, Ms Lindsay Skoll. She warmly welcomed the students to the residence on behalf of the British Ambassador. ‘We want to make this a memorable occasion for you and your families and friends,’ she said. ‘We are here to celebrate your success and hard work, and also to celebrate the collaboration of leading educational institutions in the UK and Russia. I cannot speak more highly of the HSE-LSE partnerships and their success is due to the perfect pairing of the institutions. The bilateral UK-Russia relations are, let’s say, in a challenging place. And that’s why it’s all the more important to see such strong institutional links.’ Ms Skoll went on to address the graduates: ‘You, your teachers and your families embody these positive links and we hope that they continue to flourish. You are now part of a very special tradition.’
Vadim Radaev, the First Vice Rector of HSE, also congratulated the graduates and noted that ICEF maintains consistently high level of education and research and also continually improves its programmes. He added that ICEF sets a benchmark for other HSE faculties in terms of international cooperation.
Professor Peter Kopelman, Vice Chancellor of the University of London, in his congratulatory speech stressed the importance of the global education that ICEF provides. ‘Our partnership with ICEF contributes to a pool of global talent’, he said. ‘Graduates from the joint programme are providing intellectual input to the fields of economics, science, and education, making a positive contribution all around the world.’
University of London Pro Vice-Chancellor Dr. Mary Stiasny praised high results of ICEF graduates: this year’s cohort comprised 196 graduates from the Bachelor double-degree programme (offered by HSE and UoL), 66 of whom were awarded UoL First Class Honours. Thirty four students graduated from the International Master’s programme in Financial Economics (offered in collaboration with LSE). Several have been accepted into PhD and MBA programmes at western universities and others have already found employment at leading international companies.
Mikhail Zadornov, member of HSE's Board of Trustees and the Chairman of the board of FC Otrkytie bank, noted that all major employers of the Russian financial sector recognize the high quality of ICEF education. He expressed his hope that ICEF graduates will choose the right career path.
Aydar Iskhakov, a graduate of the Bachelor's programme, and Ekaterina Batyuk, a graduate from the Master's programme expressed their gratitude to the staff of ICEF and London School of Economics, and University of London, as well as the ICEF Board of Trustees (including VTB bank that provides scholarships for students). Aydar praised the team spirit of the students and graduates and a unique atmosphere of ICEF. Moreover, Aydar thanked the British embassy for organising numerous engaging events for ICEF students.
Timofey Bazhenov, a graduate from the Master’s programme has already begun work at McKinsey in Moscow as a financial consultant and he is very enthusiastic about what lies ahead. ‘I started at McKinsey back in July,’ he said. ‘I love it. It’s an international community. Every week, company leaders from Switzerland, the UK and US visit the Moscow offices to discuss client cases. This job is the perfect opportunity for me to build my contact base and, most importantly, to apply the knowledge that I gained on the Master’s programme. I came into Financial Economics from a very different area – my Bachelor’s degree is in Engineering. But one of the many advantages of the ICEF programme is that it caters to graduates from different spheres. The strong foundations I gained on the programme have certainly contributed to my success on the job market.’
Also graduating with Timofey from the ICEF Master’s programme was Alexandra Lebedeva. ‘One of the things I loved about the programme was how international it was,’ said Alexandra. ‘We were taught in English and the majority of our professors were from universities abroad,’ she said. ‘In addition, we had the opportunity to study at a foreign university. I chose to go to France for three months and complete a course at the ESSEC in Paris- one of Europe’s most prestigious business schools.’
Certainly, access to international expertise is one of the main strengths of the ICEF Bachelor’s and Master’s programmes, and not only in the form of student exchanges. On the ICEF teaching team are more than 70 professors and assistant professors, 30 of whom have successfully completed PhDs at leading international universities in the UK, US, Germany, Spain, France, Italy and Belgium.
This includes internationally renown Professors Dimitrios Tsomocos, from Oxford University, and Alex Boulatov, from ICEF, both of whom were present at the graduation ceremony to congratulate their students. Professors Tsomocos and Boulatov have been teaching together on the ICEF programmes for 10 years. ‘The standard of the students at ICEF is extremely high’, said Professor Tsomoscos, who travels from Oxford to do research and teach a second-year course on the Master’s programme every year. ‘ICEF graduates are successful in academia, as well as in economic and financial sphere. Many go on to complete PhD programmes abroad and then get some of the most impressive jobs in the private sector in the Russian Federation.’
Professor Boulatov holds a PhD in Economics from the University of California and formerly taught at the University of Houston. He now teaches on both the Bachelor’s and Master’s programmes and agreed with his colleague in his assessment of the students. ‘ICEF graduates are traditionally very strong. Some of my Bachelor’s students are embarking directly on PhD programmes,’ said Professor Boulatov. ‘One Bachelor student, who graduated from ICEF at the top of her class several years ago, entered the University of Houston and finished her PhD is less than four years. Others went on to complete their PhDs at universities such as Harvard, MIT, LSE, Oxford, Cambridge, Princeton and Stanford.’
The international, highly-qualified and close-knit teaching team is a major contributor to the students’ success, and, according to Professor Tsomoscos, ‘the partnership between ICEF and the University of London and the London School of Economics is one of the most successful examples of cultural and scientific interaction between Russia and the West.’