International College of Economics and Finance

Python, Chinese, Time-Management: ICEF's electives you can choose

Python, Chinese, Time-Management: ICEF's electives you can choose

Alongside with the core curriculum, ICEF offers a wide array of electives allowing students to learn programming, data management and much more. Here’s Natalia Arkhipova, BSc Programme Coordinator, about the courses available at ICEF as electives, language learning opportunities, and currently most popular student choice.

How does ICEF’s range of electives set itself apart from that in other schools?

As we all know, electives are studied outside the core curriculum and are chosen based on individual needs and interests. Classes take place in the second half of the day to complement the core curriculum, and every semester there’s a wide range to choose from. Normally, with exception of language courses, electives have a duration of 2 to 3 months. Some of them teach programming, data management, practical trading, and there’s a selection of more intellectually demanding courses at ICEF Academia, alongside with Soft Skills courses, foreign language courses, and employer-led training. 

Unlike HSE-wide electives, many of which are fee-based, ICEF’s electives are at no extra cost to students. This academic year, apart from the six language courses, we offer 14 electives – 7 each semester. Every elective ends with a test or exam, and the grade for each elective taken counts towards the credits for graduation, so for some students, electives are an opportunity to increase their average degree score and to enrich portfolios.

Students are free to register for as many electives as they choose

Those who choose to withdraw from their chosen electives can do so within the first two weeks after the elective start date, with no academic arrears to their history. We have students willing to take them all, so it happens. Like all our core courses, all electives use face to face mode, but sometimes, upon request from students and provided that the teachers agree, classes can be delivered also online.

What language electives does ICEF offer? 

ICEF is HSE’s only faculty with so many foreign languages to study as electives. Alongside English, which in the language of instruction, there is an opportunity to learn either of the six languages – German, French, Spanish, Chinese, Italian or Arabic. Arabic was started just a couple of years ago at students’ request. They collected signatures and filed the request with the management.

Each language elective has a duration of two academic years and levels from elementary to intermediate. Some undergraduates even manage to learn two languages by taking, for example, French in their first two years and Spanish in their last.

By offering such a wide array of language courses, we help the students to build competitive advantage and be better prepared for international employment market. After graduation, many undergraduates choose to continue their education in Europe. They enroll in English-taught programmes and have no difficulty communicating with their peers outside the classroom in native-level context. The language that currently has most learners is Chinese. 

What other electives have the largest number of students? 

The number one most popular elective is Practical Trading. It is taught by Evgeny Shaburov and has been provided for more than ten years now. It teaches practical techniques and methods of stock trading – something that comes in useful at the start of one’s career. So high is the demand for this course that we started advanced-level Practical Trading. It is available in the second semester and is taken by those who would like to deepen their knowledge.

One more popular choice is CFA - Level 1, I guess. It’s a great way to prepare for the Certified Financial Analyst exam, and we now have more students registering for if – mostly students in their third or fourth year preparing for the job search and career.

Programming and data management courses are seeing higher demand, too. We offer SQL and Daily Reporting Automation, Python as a Tool for Data Collection and Analysis, Practical Excel and VBA – and we hear from our students and alumni that they are using these skills extensively in the workplace.

Have there been any new electives recently?

One new course we started last year is called Statistical Data Analysis. It is taught by Yaroslav Lyulko, and it immediately won learners as a highly useful course. It teaches model building and practical software application, and it is a course where our new cohorts can put to practice the statistical knowledge taught in their core curriculum.

Do you have any plans for new electives?

We try to be sensitive to the needs and interests of our students. If there’s a skill that can put them more in demand as job candidates, we will design a course for them to develop it. We know that IT skills and fintech are currently the focus with many.

ICEF stays mindful of its students’ needs and it keeps abreast of labour market trends

In order to meet its students’ growing demand for IT skills, ICEF has teamed up with HSE Faculty of Computer Science for the students to achieve a more productive blend of the computer skills and Economics. One upcoming course is called Algorithms and Data Structures, and there’s another one is coming soon – Information Systems Management, which is a collaborative effort with the Higher School of Business Informatics.  

One recent request from students was for Programming in C++. We hired the teacher and formed the group – and all of it within a very short time. And because our electives are designed to be flexible and up-to-date to provide valuable job skills, there’s a new course almost every year.

How do electives help students prepare for the workplace? 

To begin with, the students benefit immensely from ICEF Career Services – its multiple training sessions, employer-hosted workshops, sessions with practicing entrepreneurs. They are a good way to prepare for the job market, to meet industries and to experience the businesslike environment. What we seek is a perfect balance of narrow-oriented hard skills and soft skills – yes, there is a soft skills course at ICEF. It is led by Elena Dimova and, like all our core courses, it is taught in English, helping students to prepare for careers in multinationals in Russia and abroad. It prepares learners for job interviews, helps to build resistance to stress, it teaches self-presentation skills, communication skills, and how be a better time manager. Another course, Personal Effectiveness, is led by Success Partners company and teaches how to increase personal effectiveness.

Also, electives often come with networking opportunities. They are a way for students to meet new people, get useful contacts, find like-minded people and even business partners. They make students better able to cope with academic tasks, professional assignments, even personal issues. This is a truly unique learning environment: it promotes general values and builds skills using communication as a channel to make learners better team workers, public speakers and presenters and to cultivate ambition and enthusiasm. This explains why our graduates feel confident in the job market – one evidence of this is ICEF having been ranked first by recruiting platform among Russian colleges with highest graduate employability.