Five years after the government resolved to introduce a national university ranking, Uzbekistan’s first domestic higher education league table was announced in July 2018 [ru].
23 indicators were used to assess state-funded universities and institutes. These covered students’ learning outcomes, curriculum quality, faculty composition, research activity and classroom and ICT resources.
All 57 public higher education institutions (HEIs) were covered by the league table. Foreign branch campuses were not included in the ranking.
Nine of the top ten universities are located in the capital Tashkent with the National University of Uzbekistan unsurprisingly taking the top spot. In the former Soviet system, the ‘National’ university would previously have been the ‘State’ university and was the flagship university in each republic. In parts of the Soviet Union like Uzbekistan which did not have a history of formal higher education, the State universities were often the first to be founded in the republic.
The National University of Uzbekistan, which was upgraded from State to National in 2000, claims 1918 as its founding year, making it the oldest university in the Central Asia region. It has a fantastically interesting history, being born in the glow of revolutionary fervour as the Turkestan People’s University. I won’t get into that now, but check out my 2017 post on Central Asia’s first universities if, like me, university history floats your boat.
My point in mentioning the year of foundation is that – as in many national higher education systems – age is equated with prestige. When you think of a prestigious university in England, you tend to think of Oxford or Cambridge (whether you like them or not). Of course, universities don’t always get better with age, and sometimes a new institution comes along that competes for the top spot. In Kazakhstan, for example, just look at Nazarbayev University, one of my favourite case studies: see posts here, here and here.
Another interesting observation on the top ten is that it is dominated by specialist institutes, with eight out of the ten specializing in a particular area. Four specialize in engineering or technology, two in medicine/allied subjects and two in the humanities. The narrow specialization typical of the Soviet period appears to persist – just take a look at number three on the list.
Without further ado, here are the top ten HEIs in Uzbekistan:
- National University of Uzbekistan
- Tashkent State Institute of Oriental Studies
- Tashkent Institute of Agricultural Irrigation and Mechanization Engineering
- Tashkent Institute of Textiles and Light Industry
- Samarkand State University
- Tashkent Medical Academy
- Tashkent State Dentistry Institute
- Uzbek State University of World Languages
- Tashkent Institute of Railway Engineering
- Tashkent University of Information Technology
Before signing off (or getting into a discussion about the relative worth of rankings), I should point out that Uznews has also published the HEIs that performed least well in the rankings.
In a reverse of the top 10, almost all of the bottom 10 are located outside Tashkent. There is clearly a centre/periphery divide at play here.
There are also three teaching training (pedagogical) institutes in the bottom ranked group and none in the top 10. During interviews for my PhD thesis, a number of respondents talked about a decline in quality at these institutes in neighbouring settings, and it’s a worrying tendency given that these institutes are producing the teachers who will prepare the university students of the future.
And so, to end, here is that ‘name and shame’ bottom 10:
48. Namagan Engineering and Technology Institute
49. Navoi State Pedagogical Institute
50. Qarshi Engineering and Economics Institute
51. Qarshi State University
52. Jizzakh Polytechnic Institute
53. Samarkand State Architecture and Building Institute
54. Uzbekistan State Institute of Art and Culture
55. National Institute of Arts and Design
56. Jizzakh State Pedagogical Institute
57. Kokand State Pedagogical Institute