Interview with Howard Davies, Director of the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)
Howard Davies: Well, the unique thing about ICEF is the double degree at the undergraduate level, whereby you combine a degree from London which has international recognition and a specifically Russian approach to the other half of the degree if you like. I think that’s a good combination for Russian students. A number of universities in Europe began with those programmes, but not all of them were able to survive with this format. I think it’s a good combination, particularly at the time when Russian universities are still developing, still evolving. At this phase of development ICEF is a good model.
Interviewer: So, the main thing is that Russian and English ideas are pulled together?
Howard Davies: Yes, I think so – and underneath an umbrella when you are taking a programme, which has been tried and tested around the world, you have a qualification which is portable and which is recognised in other countries.
Interviewer: Today you have met with the ICEF MSc students. What do you think about the programme and its students?
Howard Davies: well, it seems like a good programme to me, and looking where people go after this programme it’s clear that it is doing well. It was a good thing to develop into the master’s area because there’s high demand for MSc–s.
Interviewer: Today you mentioned joint programmes with other universities: what are they?
Howard Davies: Well, in terms of master programmes we have one with Beijing where people spend one year in Beijing and the other in London. We have the same kind of thing with Columbia and Paris. These are master programmes. Well, we cannot have those here in Russia yet. But maybe if your master programme develops that would be possible. We have a programme in Kazakhstan similar to that at ICEF and a few other places, for example in Singapore where they teach for our degree as well.
Interviewer: What interest for the LSE do you see in the projects similar to the ICEF one?
Howard Davies: Well, we devise the curriculum and we mark the scripts, so from the faculty point of view they get some extra work which is valuable for them especially for junior staff: they get paid more and get some more experience at the beginning of their career. And such programmes also expand the LSE reputation around the world. When we first came into this programme, we believed that after the collapse of communism it was very important for academic institutions in the west to do what they could to build the capacity of Russian system to teach a good standard of economics and finance. A mutual programme of LSE was a quick way of doing it – it accelerated the development of teaching in Russia
Interviewer: The ICEF in cooperation with its colleagues from the LSE worked out the development plan of ICEF. What are the most important directions in this development from your point of view? What do you think about LSE future participation in ICEF development?
Howard Davies: Well, I think ICEF and HSE are supposed to develop their reputation internationally, and having faculty who undertake research and publish it in top international journals is going to be very important. I think that’s a mark of quality of any academic institution. The idea is that LSE link can be used to develop connections which your faculty will need with other researchers around the world in order to be able to do research and publish. We think that such cooperation will be useful for ICEF to climb along the world academic ladder.
Interviewer: What do you see in the ICEF experience that is especially valuable, and what from your point of view should be shared with other similar educational institutions?
Howard Davies: I think that the way in which the collaboration with the LSE has developed is potentially a model for elsewhere. I mean some people have taken the University of London external degree and simply offered it as an option to their students, but without teaching it properly, saying to students “you can take UOL exams, but we are not going to organise the curriculum towards those exams” I think the way in which ICEF offers its curriculum is really a model and indeed some people around the world are looking at that and think “if it is something that we could replicate”
Interviewer: What do you think about possible future developments in LSE-HSE relationships?
Howard Davies: We are looking at various other possibilities in the research area. Historians are interested in a connection with HSE, because we have quite a strong group of historians who are interested in Russian history, one of them is studying history of Siberia at the moment, the other has just published a book on “Napoleon and Russia”. So now we are looking at other connections between LSE and HSE.
Interviewer: What would you like to wish ICEF students and their teachers?
Howard Davies: Well I hope that many of the students will be interested in coming to the LSE and I admire that. But many of the graduates here will also come back and take jobs in Russia and contribute to the Russian Economy.