Higher education in the high mountains of Central Asia

Regular blog readers will know that I am passionate about higher education and about Central Asia. You may also know that I have been following the trajectory of some of the region's newest institutions with great interest, in order to better understand the motivations behind the creation of these universities and to observe what these institutions mean for the people …

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Women in higher education in Central Asia

Did you know that as far back as the 1970s - an era when most of Europe and North America was only just waking up to the idea of mass higher education - that more women than men were enrolled in universities in the Central Asian republics of Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan? And did you also know that these impressively …

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Can’t pay? Won’t pay? Russian goverment fails to pay salaries and stipends in Tajikistan

Once known as Tajikistan's most prestigious higher education institution, the Russian-Tajik Slavonic University (RTSU) in the country's capital Dushanbe, has certainly fallen from grace in recent years. Last October, I reported on a sad and disturbing story about a student at RTSU being set upon by fellow coursemates, ostensibly simply for speaking up in class. The …

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University autonomy and academic freedom beckon in Kazakhstan

Before the dust had even settled on the Minister for Education’s recent announcement that Kazakhstani universities will issue their own degree certificates from 2021, the next reform agenda for higher education in the country has been laid out. Speaking at a 2 April meeting with university rectors and faculty members, Deputy Prime Minister Dariga Nazarbayeva raised …

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One of The Guardian’s top blogs

Irreverent, funny and informative – higher education does the internet really well. So says The Guardian's Higher Education Network, which has today named my blog as one of its favourite social media accounts: http://www.theguardian.com/higher-education-network/2016/mar/23/follow-the-leaders-the-best-social-media-accounts-for-academics. What an excitement and a privilege, particularly looking at who else is featured on their list! Many thanks to The Guardian for this recognition, and for …

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The top 10 ranking no university wants to join

Another week, another university league table? Are you getting bored of Buzzfeed-esque listicles? Are you tired of listening to yet another Vice-Chancellor/Provost tell you how well their university has performed in the latest round of classifications? Then how about this: here's a league table that I guarantee no university would want to join. I can promise you that you wouldn't …

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It’s not all about the money – making academia more attractive in Kyrgyzstan

Academics working in one of Kyrgyzstan's many state funded universities get a bonus in their monthly pay packet if they have a higher degree of Candidate of Sciences or Doctor of Sciences. Quick contextual note: Kyrgyzstan still follows the Soviet system (which itself is heavily influenced by the German higher education model) of awarding two doctoral-type …

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Kyrgyz students 2015 – who, what, where

This is a wonderful infographic from Sputnik, a Russia media agency that set up shop in Kyrgyzstan last year. Produced recently for International Day of Students, the original article is here. For me, the most interesting stories are: The mismatch between the funding that the state is making available to students, and the courses they want …

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The benefits of the ‘near abroad’ – educational exchange in former Soviet states

The 'near abroad' is a Russian conception, describing countries that used to be part of or have close ties to the Soviet Union, as distinguished from the 'far abroad' countries that we might otherwise call 'the rest of the world'. Although Russian language usage is diminishing in Central Asian states, in part owing to state-building government tendencies …

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