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Lyubov SMOLYAR: WE TEACH STUDENTS TO CRITICALLY THINK AND SOLVE THE CHALLENGES OF TOMORROW

The world is changing rapidly, new challenges appear in life, economy, business. Are Ukrainian students ready to face these challenges? How to teach them to be competitive in the world of global changes? How not to get lost in a world where millions of people leave their homes and try to survive in other countries?

We ask the Rector of the International University of Finance, Lyubov Smolyar about it.

– Ms. Smolyar, when was the International University of Finance founded, what does it wish for today and what are its goals?

– IUF was founded in 1993 as a private university, in a year we will celebrate its thirtieth anniversary. The University has the highest IV level of accreditation according to the national classification.

Our institution mission is to train highly educated and socially responsible professionals of international level. The strategic vision and competencies of the University are adapted to the Ukrainian labor market, its educational environment and staff are constantly improving. We are a dynamic University: we develop the market of educational services, create new knowledge, introduce new technologies and teaching methodologies.

We strive for the ideal model of the University, which is based on the principles of organic approach, agility, flexibility, openness and adaptability with a focus on action, experimental learning based on projects, design workshops, hackathons, healthy debates. Leadership is at the core of our model, which sets the direction and enables us to act, as well as our teams (of teachers, students, trainees, alumni, staff) united by common principles and goals. At the heart of our work are the principles of mutual respect, openness and trust. It is important for us not only to gain knowledge and experience, but also to share our practices, ideas and knowledge with the academic and business communities. We try to do our job better every day than yesterday.

 – Recent years in the world and in Ukraine are a time of turbulence. What is the “fulcrum” of the University that gives it stability?

– Such stability, in particular, is assured by the IUF orientation to the needs of national business and active international cooperation. We have an international student group and provide the opportunity to master a part of the educational program abroad.

The University is developing in a spirit of internationalization of educational and scientific activities. Our teachers share international experience, prepare students for global careers in multinational companies, while a network of partnerships with the world’s leading business schools and business education associations is the basis for the University’s unique ecosystem.

          Today, professionals need to be flexible and adaptable, use the latest knowledge and respond instantly to challenges.

IUF cooperates with universities in France, Austria, Poland, Turkey, Latvia, Sweden, Switzerland and India. And with the Academic Certification Center SAP, ACC SAP. We develop academic mobility programs in cooperation with the Vienna University of Applied Sciences FHWien of WKW (Austria), IAE Aix-en-Provence (Higher School of Business in the South of France) and the University of Economics (Bydgoszcz, Poland). Scholars and students interact with colleagues from around the world, undertake internships under The Linnaeus-Palme Exchange Program with the Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden and Erasmus + at the Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń, Poland.

Students participating in the international exchange have the opportunity to choose from more than ten courses in English, French and Polish at partner universities. Three educational programs in our portfolio are taught in English.

The international exchange offered by the IUF gives students the opportunity to gain practical experience and expand professional contacts, as well as to constantly improve skills of intercultural and team work, to open new employment opportunities and to build long-term friendly relations. It was international contacts and support that save teachers and students during the Russian Federation’s war against Ukraine. Friendly higher education institutions (University of Economics in Bydgoszcz and the Université du Maine in Le Mans (France)) help teachers and students who had to leave for European countries while escaping from shelling and bombing. These universities help our community to survive and develop at this difficult time.

Universities (and business schools) around the world are “points of development” in economics, progressive thought. What “growth points” does IUF create?

– Globalization, interrupted first by the COVID-19 pandemic and then by the full-scale military invasion of Russia into Ukraine, changes traditional approaches to management, economics and finance. All aspects of finance and trade change with a breakthrough in socio-economic dynamics and the creation of new technological and economic infrastructure.

For over 30 years, we have helped train professionals who create value for business and society as a whole. Today we guide students to solve increasingly complex problems of the modern business era. We “equip” them with knowledge and skills provided by advanced curricula, innovative research, approaches to building an inclusive community and a connection (in real time) with practice.

As restless pioneers, we are always looking for new ways for innovations and strive to enable young people to get a state-of-the-art education. We have a dynamic university ecosystem that includes an extensive global network, virtual facilities and a creative environment on the campus, inspired academic staff and institutional partnerships.

Our community always generates new ideas, offers creative solutions of problems and challenges of tomorrow. We are a university of influence and we strive for more.

Who are your teachers? What are the requirements for IUF teachers?

– Our portfolio of programs requires the involvement of European-class teachers from both the university environment and successful business. They use the latest technologies to transfer knowledge and skills to students, work in a variety of online formats, in-person brainstorming, in the form of individual consultations.

We strive to train new scientists and teachers, create and disseminate innovative knowledge, concepts and tools that contribute to the understanding and practice of finance and management. University professors are experts in all major subjects and work with the top managers of many leading companies. They know what makes a business successful and pass this knowledge on in their daily teaching activities.

The management of IUF supports and expands a unique, real brand of business education. Our teachers represent a wide range of fields, interests, initiatives and areas of knowledge and actively promote the mission of the university on a daily basis.

IUF teachers are known and respected in many countries around the world. And this is not surprising, because they generate new thinking and have a real impact on current business practices. Our teachers work with companies in Kyiv, Warsaw, Paris, Bydgoszcz and many other cities, implement new ideas in view of changing business environment.

That is why the names of more than 5,000 graduates of our university are well known in the business world, many of them have succeeded. Moreover, not only in business! These are talented, all-round creative individuals who influence life in their communities.

What should your graduate have apart from skills and competencies?

– The first component of our University’s mission is the education we provide through our educational programs, through ideas produced and disseminated by our professors, and through the impact we achieve due to working with high-tech businesses, leading universities around the world.

Our curricula expand and develop from groundbreaking courses to STEM certification, combining the fundamentals of management with data science and modern business intelligence.

We always use the most modern methods of teaching and learning, invite practitioners working in national and international companies, offer workshops, projects, cases and seminars conducted by highly qualified business experts.

Our students perform tasks during design and research seminars in an interactive and multidisciplinary atmosphere. They can take part in international internships or choose one of the double degree programs, with studying abroad and receiving two degrees – a IUF master’s degree and a master’s degree from one of foreign partner universities.

Today, the International University of Finance implements a comprehensive system of training programs for bachelors, masters, Business Education-MBA with different durations in the field of finance, business analytics, international business, entrepreneurship, innovation and international economics. All programs are adaptable, flexible to the challenges of the modern world.

Given the digital challenges, the most popular are interdisciplinary programs that provide knowledge and competencies at the intersection of modern business and advanced technologies, finance, business analytics, Big Data, information technology (IT), entrepreneurship and management. The combination of modern technical knowledge and management skills provides a high level of competitive advantage of graduates in high-tech companies, when creating their own business, launching and scaling startups.

Our programs are designed for ambitious students who want to enter a new profession in the field of economics and finance, are able to plan their time and focus on intellectual tasks.

We educate independent thinkers and successful practitioners who add value to the companies that hire them. Through multidisciplinary training, corporate leaders, strategists and financial analysts have the opportunity to become key strategic players in any cross-border collaboration or business transformation initiative.

University graduates are able to analyze, evaluate trends in various sectors of the economy, are able to conduct sound financial analysis, research and organization of business processes in accordance with today’s requirements and speak the same language with financiers and businessmen around the world.

 – Should the University teach values? And what are these values?

– IUF seeks to train and develop leaders and creators of enterprises that create value for persons concerned and society as a whole. Our priorities include independence from all cultural, political and economic influences, genuine free and critical thinking, scientific rigor, academic honesty, imagination and creative passion combined with social, ethical and environmental responsibilities for sustainable development.

Our University strives to build and maintain the intellectual community that appreciates ​​and respects different identities and points of view. We are responsible for upholding and protection of common values ​​and principles both in the International University of Finance and beyond.

          We are convinced that the world is in critical need of as many professionals as possible to solve the most pressing and complex problems. Businesses around the world need leaders and managers who can find innovative ways to create value.

Certainly, every element of our University’s mission, which is training leaders who change a world, is full of meaning. When we talk about leaders, we mean people who embody a certain type of competence and character. A true leader is one who has earned the trust of others in his or her business or society.

People who change and choose the path of creative restructuring, create real value for society.  Numerous economic and social crises have shown many examples of leaders declaring a system of values ​​without actually creating one.

          The International University of Finance is distinguished by its graduates that provide leadership in all areas of life.

How does the IUF differ from other business schools and financial institutions in Ukraine and the world?

– The International University of Finance offers knowledge and training in key areas of business, including digital transformation, entrepreneurship and innovation, twenty-first century finance, business integration into global systems, climate research and sustainability.

          The strength of our University is in its flexible format. The advantage of IUF is the curricula developed and adapted for dynamic online learning, as well as an exciting interactive set of virtual learning platforms.

We bring together a global cohort of successful students and professors with diverse viewpoints and life experiences that offer meaningful knowledge sharing and ongoing support. In addition, we stand out from other universities by directly interacting in real time with teachers, course facilitators and the student community.  

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