To merge, or not to merge… But is that the question in Kazakhstan?

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Hamlet cat
With only a few apologies to Shakespeare for the punny title. Image (c) Susan Herbert

On the back of recent news that a number of universities in Kazakhstan are to be reorganized and some merged, rumours are now spreading that at least one of the proposed mergers will not in fact go ahead.

According to Dilara Aronova, a journalist for northern Kazakhstan’s regional news outlet Kostanay News, social media has been abuzz (well, perhaps not exactly ‘buzzing’, unless you share my all-encompassing love for higher education gossip) with rumours that a politician has opposed the move for the State Universities of Kostanay in the north and Taraz in the south to join with their local State Pedagogical University counterparts.

Senator Edil Mamytbekov, a native of Taraz, spoke out at the time of the October 2019 government announcement on the reorganizations and his words have been widely interpreted to understand that the underlying aim of the two mergers was to close the pedagogical universities.

The Ministry of Education was quick to respond that there were no plans to close either university and that the mergers are designed to pool financial resources and enlarge the two newly created regional universities.

Putting the matter firmly to rest, a working group at Kostanay State has already started planning the merger, and the university’s Rector issued a statement saying that any discussions about the cancellation of the merger were simply rumours.

So that’s that then. The government reforms steamroller on…

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