The Faculty of Creative Industries is one of the most popular faculties at the Higher School of Economics. Today we have more than 5 thousand students. In the international QS ranking in the communications and media subject area, the HSE is ranked among the leading universities in Russia, and in the Art and Design category HSE became the best Russian university and entered the top 200 international universities.
Our faculty is one of the largest centers for training specialists in the creative industries: it brings together the best teachers and curators from among practicing professionals, talented students and successful graduates who work in leading russian and world companies or create their own startups.
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— What does this exchange process mean for the Karlshochschule?
— This is a part of our philosophy. First all, we believe that students, who have contact with “internationals”- people from different nationalities, they enlarge their mindset. They might question their point of view, because they got used to the new opinions, new possibilities, which makes them reflect and which develop their competencies and their personalities.
Secondly, the exchange process is very important in a today’s economy. On the one hand, Germany is a big exporter, not only regarding markets but it is also about the workforce, which makes our home more and more diverse, so it is also vital to gain this intercultural communication knowledge.
In Karlshochshule semester abroad is integrated into all our bachelor programs, and in some, it is even mandatory. And the other thing is to get internationalization inside the university (it is called “internationalization at home”), and this is another reason why we want to do this on the exchange basis: to have diversity in Karlshochschule’s population so that everybody can learn from everybody else.
— How has the process of exchanging improved through the time?
— It started almost from the very beginning of Karlshochschule. When I came here in 2010, it was already strong, but the numbers were not as high as they are now. Also, the name of the university was changed from Merkurhochschule to Karlshochschule International University, so it is the mindset changing as well. During my second year here, when in 2011 the percentage of the bachelor students going abroad reached 80%, and it stayed that high ever since.
The first thing is that we are a very young university, so it took time for us to build a network of partner universities abroad and to become well recognized. And the second thing is that when the first few pioneers started (doing the semester abroad) and others see and then they say: “Oh, this is something I can do too!”. And another thing is that the school system in Germany has changed, and therefore many students took a gap year before going to the University. Most of them spend this year abroad, which makes them more open to this opportunity in Karlshochschule once they have already been there.
— How many incoming students usually arrive in Karlshochschule per semester?
— It has changed through the time, but the average number is approximately 60.
— How many German students are currently in Russia? Why, do you think, they picked such a country?
— Two of our students are currently in Russia. Those students study IR (International Relations), and I guess for this topic Russia is very interesting, as it is a very important political player. We also offer Russian as a foreign language course, it runs in some small groups, so there are always a few students interested in Russian language, culture and economy.
The relationship between our countries used to be very strong. I know that it has changed a little bit due to the political difficulties and embargo, but still that Germany and Russia are very important partners.
— Which programs in Karlshochschule are the most popular among the incoming students?
— There are three such programmes. That’s IB (International Business), IR (International Relations) and the majority of Master’s studies.
— What are the most common problems that incoming students are facing? (e.g. accommodation, paper routine)
— Some of these Finding accommodation is the most common one. Whenever I read students reports, there is always some troubles: It was so hard to find a place to stay, or it was so dirty/ so far away/ my roommates were too loud, so there is always something. What I can recommend to avoid this kind of trouble is to start looking for the accommodation as soon as possible and to be really persistent. I advise you to complete this a project. You will work on it almost every day, and this will help you to succeed.
— Why should every student try semester abroad?
— It is an amazing experience. I can see this whenever people are about to leave, and they are so sad that their semester abroad is over. During this time, you meet new people from all over the world. Your subjects may be taught in a different way, or you can take courses or even specializations that are not offered at home. I think most of all it is about the personality and how it changes thanks to this experience.