university admission

How to choose a university in Kazakhstan

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7f0377161781ef9e82187187f78b14a69060f5fcfdca46ec0a932b4ec4eafefeWith a plethora of institutional offerings, deciding what, where and how to study are perennial questions for prospective students around the world.

Here’s what Yelena Pak of Kazakhstan’s Delovoi [Business] Kazakhstan news agency [ru] suggests you should look out for if you’re going to apply in Kazakhstan.

Rankings

University rankings are a hot topic in Kazakhstan, which seeks to ‘modernize’ its economy and society and to that end has joined pretty much every quantifiable measure of progress on offer.

Pak notes that Al-Farabi Kazakh National University takes national pride of (236th) place in the global QS World University Rankings. As she notes, this ranks Al-Farabi higher than the University of East Anglia in the UK, Miami U in the US and St Petersburg State University.

A number of other Kazakh universities have ‘progressed well’ in the rankings, says Pak. These include Gumilov Eurasian National University, Satpayev Kazakh National Research Technical University and Abai National Pedagogical University.

Kazakhstan now has its own national university ranking system produced by the independent Kazakh Quality Assurance Agency. This covers around a third of the country’s universities. Pak suggests that applicants also take a look at these ratings.

Study abroad or at home?

An option taken up by around 10,000 Kazakhs a year is to seek higher education abroad. Most head to neighbouring Russia, which not only shares a border with Kazakhstan but also membership of the Eurasian Economic Union and (for now at least) a common alphabet and language.

Other Kazakh students are scattered around the world, drawn by factors including availability of subjects and specializations that are not offered at home, the chance to study and live in a different culture and so on.

Cost

Pak bemoans the lack of information on university websites on the cost of study and living. This would certainly be a helpful addition for applicants who have not yet firmed up their study options.

Whilst tuition fees are now commonplace in Kazakhstan, it is still possible to study for free if you perform well enough on the Unified Entrance Examination. In 2017, the Ministry of Education will be giving out vouchers, the idea being that students can then apply the voucher (effectively a full fee waiver and a guarantee of the student’s high quality) at any institution in the country.

Quality

Pak points out that the university rankings Kazakhs are becoming so fond of are not very good at telling you about quality.

By this she infers the quality of the program (course), the depth and breadth of linkages between the university and other partners, and graduate career prospects.

This may be a temporary oversight. With the rush to measure and assess universities, it is surely only a matter of time before university choice in Kazakhstan is spelled out in even more detail.

I wonder, though, whether this will leave prospective students just as confused as they are now, only this time suffering from too much, rather than too little, information!

Failing to get to university, failing to get a job

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Two stories about 30% today, both – sadly – focussing on failure.

First, from Kazakhstan where EurasiaNet reports that nearly 30% of high (secondary) school leavers failed to pass their final exams. These standardised exams pave the way for entry to university, determining who can go, who gets state funding, and who is going to have to look for another option instead. 

Read the story, (c) Eurasianet, at http://www.eurasianet.org/node/67116.

And then from one cheery bit of news to another: Kyrgyzstan’s 24 news agency. Even if you do get to university in Kyrgyzstan, your prospects of employment post-graduation are pretty slim. According to the government’s Education Minister, only 30% of graduates manage to find employment. It’s not entirely clear whether graduates’ prospects improve longer term, or what the data sources are for this number, but if there is something in this, the government needs to act quickly.  

This story is (c) 24.kg and can be found at http://eng.24.kg/politic/2013/06/14/27274.html.