Yandex Blog

Creating Academic Opportunities for Global Learners

As one of Europe's largest tech companies, we believe we have a responsibility to create learning opportunities for the current and future generations of data scientists.  As many industries continue to enhance their businesses with AI and data science, it's critical to teach students the skills they need for the jobs of tomorrow.  While we began our education initiatives in our core market of Russia, our education goals are part of a broader global learning environment.  We're committed to steps that reflect the needs of learners around the world and extend the reach of our academic programs to as many individuals as possible. 

Successful education is rooted in the exchange of knowledge - sharing expertise and learning of experts from different parts of the world.  Today we are expanding our global efforts in multiple ways and continuing to engage education professionals from around the world to enhance both our programs and others’.

Adapting to Local Learning Environments

The Yandex team members who founded our Yandex School of Data Analysis headed to Israel in 2018 to establish a program suited for local learners.  Through collaboration with local experts, we created Y-DATA at Tel Aviv University, a one-year career advancement program meant to bridge the gap between online courses and a full-time Master of Science program.  YSDA personnel designed the Y-DATA curriculum to precisely reflect the needs of the data science community in Israel.  Y-DATA provides fundamental skills for data science careers but also uniquely offers engaging hands-on projects with local companies. 

Our team in Israel has continued to take steps to integrate Y-DATA into the local data science community and boost the exchange of knowledge.  For example, the Y-DATA team hosts regular meet-ups in Tel Aviv that are open to anyone interested in learning more about machine learning and data analysis.

Offering Programs for Global learners by Global Experts

We welcome international experts to contribute to our programs for learners both in Russia and elsewhere in the world.  By welcoming experts from different institutions and education systems, we drive more diverse learning opportunities for students. 

One example is the Machine Learning in High Energy Physics summer school.  Each year since 2015, we've helped organize a ten-day machine learning summer program.  Working with one of our academic partners in Moscow, the Higher School of Economics, we annually stage the school at a different European host and welcome experts from around the world to teach.  This year, the DESY research center in Hamburg, Germany, hosted 71 postgraduates and postdoctoral researchers from 17 countries.  MLHEP is an excellent way for us to engage with global learners interested in machine learning, as well as academic institutions across Europe.

Students from the 2018 MLHEP at St. Anne's College, University of Oxford

Similarly, we invite experts from around the world to teach at our Natural Language Processing (NLP) Week that we host at Yandex headquarters.  This past year we welcomed two international data scientists to NLP Week.  Wilker Aziz of the Institute for Logic, Language and Computation at the University of Amsterdam taught courses on latent variable models, deep generative models, and advanced topics; Mirella Lapata of the School of Informatics at the University of Edinburgh taught semantic parsing.

Establishing Online Courses for Learners Everywhere 

We believe it's critical to make education opportunities as accessible as possible.  By partnering with Coursera, the leading online education provider, we bring data science tools to an even larger audience, unhindered by physical location.  We host several online specializations on Coursera in English, which are open to anyone around the world interested in data science. 

In April, we attended the Coursera Partners Conference to engage other academic partners.  We shared more about our experience leading the way with collaboration between industry and academia.  Through in-depth cooperation with academia, we can help define the skills today’s learners need for the jobs of tomorrow.  We were also honored to accept an award from Coursera for our Advanced Machine Learning specialization.

Engaging in Open Dialogues with International Representatives 

Besides bringing our programs to an international audience and adapting them to local learners, we also share our expertise and engage in cross-cultural dialogue.  By meeting with representatives who have a similar passion for education, we can share our knowledge and learn how other education leaders are shaping their tech programs.  Russia has traditionally excelled in STEM, and we are always eager to share our current work and vision for the future in this area. 

As part of our efforts to engage with the global education community, we recently welcomed Shamma Al Mazrui, the Minister of State for Youth Affairs for the United Arab Emirates, to our Yandex office.  Our academic team spoke with Al Mazrui about our shared interest in expanding access to data science education.  Al Mazrui discussed the various education projects of the UAE, and we presented information on Yandex's academic programs.  Our team shared how the Yandex.Textbook service provides elementary school teachers with interactive assignments.  For older learners, Al Mazrui learned how Yandex.Practicum provides tools for adults seeking to retrain themselves for new careers in data science.

UAE Minister of State for Youth Affairs Shamma Al Mazrui visits Yandex

Learning more about the education systems of other countries is an excellent way for us to tailor our academic programs to a global audience.

We look forward to creating more opportunities for global data science learners and expanding the reach of our educational programs.