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Higher Education in Kazakhstan


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Higher education policy is the key to lifelong learning and this is particularly important as the ageing population is increasing in many countries. It is a major driver of economic competitiveness in an increasingly knowledge-driven global economy and it also brings social cohesion and well-being. Countries are increasingly aware that higher education institutions need to foster the skills required to sustain a globally competitive research base and improve knowledge dissemination to the benefit of society. Kazakhstan’s higher education system has made progress over the past ten years. However, there is scope for improvement in delivering labour-market relevant skills to Kazakhstanis, and in supporting economic growth through research and innovation.

In examining the higher education system in Kazakhstan, this report builds on a 2007 joint OECD/World Bank review: Reviews of National Policies for Education: Higher Education in Kazakhstan 2007. Each chapter presents an overview of progress made in the past decade across the main areas explored in the 2007 report. These include quality and relevance, access and equity, internationalisation, research and innovation, financing and governance. The report also examines policy responses to evolving dynamics in higher education and the wider socio-economic changes.

Published in: Education

Higher Education in Kazakhstan

  1. 1. HIGHER EDUCATION IN KAZAKHSTAN 2017 Astana March 15, 2017 Thomas Weko, Education and Skills Directorate, OECD
  2. 2. The review: who, why, how, and what
  3. 3. Who is the OECD? • An international organisation of 35 member countries. • A forum for governments to share experiences and seek solutions to common problems across many areas -- from taxation and science policy to education. • In education we build shared knowledge by measuring spending, attainment, learning, and skill use – through, for example, PISA, PIAAC, and other studies. • We also work with partner and non-member countries at their request – including China, India, Brazil, South Africa, and Russia – and Kazakhstan to share and compare their experiences, and offer advice for improvement. • Wide collaboration with Kazakhstan – PISA, PIAAC (round 3), and reviews including higher education, early childhood, and school resources reviews. Why was this review done? We were invited by Ministry to follow up on 2007 World Bank/OECD Review, measuring progress and suggesting directions for continued improvement. Each chapter contains a figure showing 2007 recommendations and implementation status. 3 Who Did the Review and Why
  4. 4. o A self-study (Country Background Report) was produced by the IAC o A fact-finding mission by an international team with members from OECD, World Bank, and higher education leaders from Australia, Canada, Ireland and the US. o They conducted interviews with government (Ministry and other state agencies) and visited more than 20 universities.  University visits included rectors and senior management of universities, faculty members, employers, students.  Visits included a representative set of universities: state and national; public, private and mixed; those offering broad and specialised programmes. o Report drafted by OECD based upon input from its country experts, and submitted to Ministry for fact-checking. o All findings and recommendations are the responsibility of the review team, not host governments. How the Review Was Done
  5. 5. Six areas of focus: 1. The quality and relevance of higher education 2. Access and equity in higher education 3. Internationalisation and higher education 4. The integration of education, research, and innovation in higher education 5. Financing of higher education 6. Governance in higher education Today’s presentation: begin with key findings, then recommendations 5 What was the focus of the review?
  6. 6. Quality and Labour Market Relevance
  7. 7. Quality and Labour Market Relevance o Educational quality depends upon inputs (student and teachers), the educational process, and processes to assure quality o Students o 2012 PISA results show comparatively low skills among 15-year olds in international comparison (0.9% high performers vs. 13% OECD average) o UNT is not well-suited to:  development of student capabilities that HE should foster  the identification of students most likely to succeed in HE (UNT correlation with year two grades: r = .32) o Teachers o Formal faculty qualifications (degree levels) remain below international standards, and vary widely among regions.
  8. 8. 8 Faculty Qualifications
  9. 9. o Curriculum design has been decentralised in principle – but local willingness and capacity among HEIs to develop curriculum is limited. o Work experience is part of all programmes, in principle. However, may be brief, weakly supervised, not linked to educational programme. o Faculty teaching workload and administrative responsibilities are heavy, and opportunities for high quality professional development limited. (135-180 instructional hrs./yr. in N. America vs. 400 to 750 in KZ) o Examinations at end of study could – in principle – support deep learning rather than memorisation. As presently designed external test of student achievement (VODE) does not. 9 Teaching and Learning Practices
  10. 10. Quality Assurance Processes The Bologna Framework o Steps have been taken to implement Bologna Process – including alignment of national and ECTS credits, and degree duration. o Implementation not yet sufficient to achieve full benefits of Bologna: credit-based learning that leads to mobility and flexibility for learners. Institutional accreditation and quality assurance processes o External, voluntary accreditation is underway. o Accreditation competes with traditional forms of central control (licensing, attestation, recurring and ad hoc inspections, the EASA). These limit the ability of quality assurance to drive institutional improvement.
  11. 11. Employment Outcomes: Right Numbers, Right Skills? o Right Numbers? o Policymakers do not yet know whether graduate supply is well- aligned to labour market demand – these data do not yet exist. o Labour market information for students that permits them to match their interests and aptitudes to careers is not yet available. o Right skills? National employer appears to be broadly satisfied with graduate skills, while international employers said additional post- employment training is sometimes needed. Kazakhstan may not be producing the skills it needs to succeed in a global marketplace.
  12. 12. Quality and Relevance: Recommendations o Develop a National Qualifications Framework aligned to international benchmarks and 21st century competencies. o Use it to as basis for further development of curricula, course content, teaching approaches and assessment. o Revise the UNT in the same direction. o Provide local professional development opportunities to all core staff, and review faculty workload to enable adequate time for other instructional and research o Strengthen accreditation processes to align to Bologna principles and standards. Strengthen internal quality assurance using peer review and student feedback. o Establish and disseminate labour market information that reports on the outcomes of higher education graduates.
  13. 13. Access and Equity
  14. 14. o Poor and uneven student preparation in primary and secondary schooling o UNT increases transparency -- but favours students from better-resourced schools and those whose parents can afford tutoring o The Complex Test aims to create VET pathway – but has not established an effective alternative to direct entry after high school o The financial aid system has negative effects on equity. o State scholarships are awarded based UNT – which measures ability as cultivated by uneven learning opportunities o Public loans for study expenses are underdeveloped and underused o Private loans typically come with high interest rates o Savings plans little used and does not assist those in need 14 Academic Preparation and Financial Aid
  15. 15. Access and Equity: Recommendations o Allocate more grant funding to mean-tested financial support, and make students loans more accessible and affordable to students who are not in receipt of a grant. o Improve the quality of primary and secondary schooling, and increase efforts to raise the educational aspirations of rural and low SES students. o Expand technology-enabled learning and distance education to provide high-quality learning opportunities for students in rural areas. o Accelerate reform of the Unified National Test (UNT), and consider how to address educational disadvantage (for example through “bonus points”). o Improve transferability of VET qualifications. Develop formalised credit transfer, and recognise articulation pathways between universities and VET colleges. Reform of the Complex Test.
  16. 16. Internationalisation
  17. 17. o A small but stable number of Kazakhstani students study abroad (40 out of 50K in Russian Federation or Kyrgyzstan). But… o Few international students come to Kazakhstan – about 2% of enrolment- principally Georgia and Central Asia. o The curriculum does not yet have a strong international perspective. o Staff mobility levels similar to Russian Federation, Azerbaijan and the Republic of Korea. Standards of facilities, services and infrastructure in institutions; limited capacity to provide instruction in English language; and restrictive visa conditions all contribute to a lack of competitiveness o Significant recent efforts to promote the internationalisation have been adopted -- including the Bolashak scholarship programme, the creation of Nazarbayev University, and adoption of the Bologna Process. 17 Internationalisation: Performance
  18. 18. o The Bologna Process: many agreements between established between Kazakhstani higher education institutions and foreign HEIs -- but many are declarative in nature and do not result in real partnerships o The Bolashak programme: Successful, but costly, with scope for much wider use of its principal asset – its alumni network o Nazarbayev University: Intended to be a model and mentor for the wider higher education system. There has been limited support and structure to share learning from this model in ways that can be applied by higher education institutions that are less well resourced. 18 Internationalisation Performance
  19. 19. o Limited academic autonomy restricts institutions’ ability to engage in partnerships and develop joint programmes. o Limited English language competency of staff limits extent to which academics can engage in research collaborations, international research publication, programme collaboration and joint teaching. o Low English language proficiency of students limits choice of destinations o The lack of a fully operational and effective system of external quality assurance reduces other countries’ (and other countries’ students) interest in Kazakhstani higher education. o The remaining rigidity in the curriculum can make it hard for students to gain credit for international experience. 19 Impediments to wider internationalisation
  20. 20. • Continue the current relaxation of curriculum and prescribed content to enable a more internationalised curriculum and enhance student mobility. • Establish indicators on student, programme, and institution-level mobility that allow international comparison. Publish these regularly. • Expand the current scholarships scheme, and introduce new forms of financial support for study abroad • Better leverage the Bolashak programme. • Encourage collaboration among higher education institutions, and reinforce efforts to identify and disseminate lessons from Nazarbayev University and the national universities for the internationalisation of higher education. • Increase the English proficiency of youth and faculty members • Increase investments that exploit digital technologies to expand in-country “internationalisation through the curriculum”. 20 Internationalisation: Recommendations
  21. 21. o The establishment of new research grants streams, and the acceleration of investments at Nazarbayev University and the national universities are important positive developments. o Four key challenges remain. 1. Low capacity for high quality research, due to • low public funding for higher education (both for research and for instruction); • gaps in current funding instruments; and, • poor readiness at the institutional level to support research 2. The low number of doctoral graduates, and the absence of a post-doctoral stream to help graduates establish their careers; 3. Overemphasis of policy on a single aspect of innovation – commercialisation 4. Lack strategic coherence in diversification (e.g. some research institutes merged with universities, others independent) 21 Research and Innovation
  22. 22. o Develop a broad base of frontier research and a critical mass of research in areas of strategic importance to industry and other users of knowledge. Support this by recruiting and training highly talented faculty with expertise in strategic areas and creating university-led science and technology centres that are inter- disciplinary and inter-institutional, and engage industry as partners. o Increase R D investment to 1% of GDP over 5 years to 2021 (and review efficiency of investment with expert panel) o Encourage higher education institutions to adopt explicit and transparent policies for faculty incentives and rewards - e.g. flexibility in allocating teaching duties at institutional level, and promotion between academic grades. o Establish a special task force to address the PhD pipeline and postdoctoral career path problems. Re-examine the one-size-fits-all policy for PhD graduation and establish a postdoctoral structure. o Review diversity of mission. Consider three types: teaching only, research led to PhD level and local, needs-oriented teaching and research led to master’s level. 22 Research and Innovation Recommendations
  23. 23. o Low overall public spending on tertiary education relative to economy (0.3% of GDP vs. 1.5% average in OECD, 1.1% in newest EU members, 1.6% Ukraine) o Very high share of public spending (1/3) focused on two initiatives: Nazarbayev University and the Bolashak programme. o State grant programme (main funding vehicle for public higher education institutions) subsidises enrolment of students that often would have occurred without public investment. o Controls on how higher education institutions spend their funding are excessive and counterproductive. 23 Funding
  24. 24. o Increase the size of its public investment in higher education bringing it more in line with levels in peer countries o Re-evaluate and modify the state grant system. Provide grants based on the financial need of qualified students, and expect greater financial contributions from higher income students o Reduce the level of financial controls on institutions. Emphasise post-audits rather than pre-audits, and allow institutions to retain and accumulate funds to strengthen their financial flexibility and provide incentives for greater efficiency. 24 Funding Recommendations
  25. 25. o The government has adopted “supervisory boards” and loosened regulatory controls on the curriculum in an effort to introduce some measure of institutional autonomy. o Four governance challenges remain: o Financial regulation of higher education institutions is excessive; o Limited academic autonomy discourages faculty and institutional creativity, initiative and responsibility; o The organisational/managerial autonomy of higher education institutions is weak; o The regulation of both the public and private sectors is both excessive and distinctive roles of the two sectors are not effectively differentiated. 25 Governance
  26. 26. o Strengthen institutional governance to support greater decentralization and flexibility. Develop in public universities governing boards with the power to: o select chief executives, o provide oversight of institutional operations, and, o support the improvement and effectiveness of institutions. o Shift from government control that depends on regulatory and procedural controls to an audit approach to assure financial integrity. o Shift from top-down quality assurance process that relies on attestation and inspections to an institution-led accreditation approach to quality assurance. o Clearly identify purposes of the public and private sectors of the higher education system. Promote governance arrangements in each sector that match its purpose. Allocate to public higher education institutions functions unlikely to thrive in private institutions. 26 Governance Recommendations
  27. 27. REPUBLIC OF KAZAKHSTAN launch of OECD report •IMPLEMENTATION EXAMPLES March 15, 2017
  28. 28. Context for World Bank Involvement 28 • The World Bank is increasingly providing support to Central Asian countries to enhance the education sector’s (particularly higher education’s) ability to produce high- quality, labor-market relevant skills for employment. • Following examples are from World Bank’s engagement in Europe and Central Asia. Engagement is typically at the country-level but can also be at the regional level or institution-level. • While not explicit in the presentation, it is acknowledged that these reforms require both financial and technical support.
  29. 29. Uzbekistan 29 Objective Strengthen higher education system managerial capacity, and to improve both the labor market relevance and the learning environment of selected higher education institutions. Type Investment Project (45M USD) Strengthening Higher Education Management • Establishing a Higher Education Management Information System • Improving the Quality Assurance System (Internal and External) Improving the Learning Environment in HEIs • Improving laboratories and associated academic and research systems in priority areas (basic teaching laboratories and advanced scientific research laboratories) • Establishment of a national e-library for Uzbek HEIs Improving the Relevance of Higher Education • Establishing a Competitive Academic Innovation Fund (a) strengthening university-industry links (b) improving teaching and learning practices within HEIs. (c) promote mechanisms for inclusion and empowerment of female students
  30. 30. Tajikistan 30 Objective Develop mechanisms that improve and monitor the quality and labor- market relevance of higher education Type Investment Project (15M USD) Institutional- Level Improvements • Just-in-Time Grants to Re-/Up-Skill Workforce • Competitive Grant Program for Universities (Quality and Labor- Market Relevance with focus on female students) System-Level Interventions • Quality Assurance Enhancements • System-wide Higher Education Curriculum Reform • Assessment of Higher Education Financing
  31. 31. Azerbaijan 31 Objective Develop mechanisms that enable financial support for low-income students. Type Technical Assistance (Bank-financed) Student Loan Program • Minister of Education asked 10 HEIs to each pledge a small number of study places at their respective institution as an in-kind contribution. • Selection of the candidates is based mostly on the following criteria: citizen of Azerbaijan; not older than 25 years; pursuing a bachelor degree in one of ten founding universities or a partner university; GPA for the previous years is 71% or higher; and annual family income below 10,000AZN. • Innovative: 1) Eliminated the need for upfront investment from government or private sources; 2) loan maintenance costs should be relatively low since in-kind contributions eliminated the need to finance the spread between the interest rate to be paid by the student borrower and the costs of borrowed funds; and 3) mitigated risk by targeting upperclassman who have demonstrated some degree of academic success.
  32. 32. Russia 32 Institutions Engagements between World Bank and HEIs.. Type Reimbursable Advisory Serves (client-financed) Examples • In Kazan city, university strategies developed allowing 3 universities-participants to win a national competition: one became a Federal University and two others became National Research Universities. • In Surgut city, strategy for the university complex development, prepared with the Bank support, facilitated technological consortia with several companies/research centers. Partnerships with European HEIS established. • Higher School of Economics with support of the Bank team developed an institutional strategy. The Bank is strategic partner for HSE under the 5/100 program. • Russian Academy of National Economy and Public Administration after the merger of 14 institutions, introduced a strategy for regional network development, strategic framework for internationalization, institutional quality assessment procedures and reviews of all the programs in regions. A new Master program prepared and successfully launched attracting many international students.
  33. 33. Central Asia 33 Higher Education Financing Financing Higher Education: Implementing a Strategic Vision • March 14, 2017 in Almaty, Kazakhstan • Senior officials from ministries of education and finance • Republics of Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. • Objective of the workshop is to facilitate knowledge sharing among senior government officials on recent trends and promising practices for aligning higher education funding strategies with specific policy objectives. • Presentations and discussions focused on implementation approaches and lessons learned from real-life experiences revising approaches to financing higher education. Graduate Tracer Study Toolkit • In the process of preparing a Graduate Tracer Studies Toolkit focused on university graduates. The toolkit will be a reference and starting point for Central Asia countries. • The toolkit will compile existing research and international experience into a practical set of tools and templates that can be customized by each country.
  34. 34. Contact Information 34 Jason Weaver Senior Education Specialist The World Bank Group