13 November 2017
Recently I was representing in the Selection Committee to interview students for the Academic Mobility Program in the L.N. Gumilyov Eurasian National University. The selected students will have opportunity to study in partner universities abroad. The common question from our committee to students was about the reason why they wanted to study abroad. Most students expressed that foreign universities would have better programs, facilities, laboratories, and resources than Kazakhstan universities.
Higher education in Kazakhstan has been improved dramatically recent years. It is continuously growing and developing. The Kazakhstan government is trying hard to improve its higher education to the world class level by emphasizing research, innovation and science. Ministry of Education has a special program for inviting foreign professors to Kazakhstan universities. The students have opportunities to attend classes of professors from universities abroad. The L.N. Gumilyov Eurasian National University where I am working is one of the fastest growing university in the higher education world. Its QS (Quacquarelli Symonds) world university ranking in 2018 is 336 based on academic/employer reputation, faculty/student ratio, citations per faculty, and international faculty/student ratio. It is a huge achievement of higher education in Kazakhstan in such a short period time.
When the quality of higher education in Kazakhstan becomes more competitive in the global world, why do Kazakhstan students still want to study abroad? When students want to study for an advanced degree, they find programs abroad are more attractive. They believe that foreign universities have cutting-edge research facilities with more funds and top faculty members. Besides, there are opportunities to study foreign languages, especially English which is required to be competitive in the global world. When they come back, they may see a lot of opportunities in Kazakhstan to contribute with knowledge and skills they acquired abroad. When they graduate from foreign universities, they may find job and career, and opportunity abroad.
To retain these ambitious Kazakhstan students at home for their training and education, the Ministry of Education in Kazakhstan made a policy to build up high-quality capacity at national institutions. Higher education institutions in Kazakhstan are trying to standardize quality of education internationally through internal Quality Assurance and international Accreditation. Moreover, Kazakhstan universities are creating academic and research partnerships with foreign universities through credit transfer, student and faculty exchange programs.
In this process of integrating into the world education system, Kazakhstan higher education institutes are encountering an obstacle to communicate with the global community effectively. President, Nursultan Nazarbayev emphasized “Tri-lingual policy” to develop three languages in Kazakhstan to prepare young Kazakhstan students for global competitiveness: Kazakh as the state language, Russian as the language of inter ethnic communication, and English as the language of successful integration into the global economy. In line with national strategy on multilingualism, the L.N. Gumilyov Eurasian National University (ENU) set its strategic objective to transform the University to a multilingual university. Since 2012, the Multilingual Education Centre in the ENU has introduced English language training program for undergraduate and graduate students. English language courses for the teaching staff of the University were provided to conduct courses in English. These programs have significant benefit for students, faculty, and staff to develop their English language skills in academic environment. As of 2017, there are 142 teachers in the English training program. 373 courses are taught in English and total of 1,140 students are benefited from multilingual program.
Kazakhstan students’ zeal for study abroad is growing and it will continue. This phenomenon is not all linked to the quality of higher education in Kazakhstan, but it is the trend of internationalism in education. It is two-way students’ international mobilization.While Kazakhstan students are going abroad to study, more and more overseas students are coming to Kazakhstan to study Central Asia, Kazakh history and culture, language, etc. Therefore, Kazakhstan students study abroad is a part of globalization process and a positive social phenomenon.
Kim Hyo Young (Ph.D.)
Director Multilingual education and academic
resources development center
L.N.Gumilyov Eurasian National University