All posts by aizhajan

Will universities of Kazakhstan get “real” autonomy?

Today, one of the important subjects within the higher education is the entry of Kazakhstan in Bologna Process. The main goal of joining to Bologna Process is to make Kazakhstani higher education conforming international standards for improvement of its quality and gradual integration into world educational community. Signing of the Magna Charta Universitatum is a basis of the Bologna declaration which is a serious step on the way to integration. In Magna Charta Universitatum, autonomy is a fundamental principle of the university. Signing this document, universities assume obligations to develop autonomy of higher education institutions, democratic principles of management, the academic freedom, etc.

According to the State program of education development in the Republic of Kazakhstan for 2011-2020 Board of Trustees (BoT) will function in institutions in order to provide corporate management and transparency of educational system management (SPED, 2011-2020). The Boards of Trustees as guarantors of an autonomy of higher education institutions play a direct and key role at autonomous university. According to Sagintayeva A. et al (2014) “sixty four public universities have established boards of trustees”.

However, at the present time Nazarbayev University is the only legal autonomous university in Kazakhstan (“On the Status”, 2011). All the academic institutions follow the Ministry’s regulations irrespective of their ownership except Nazarbayev University that reports to the Board of Trustees headed by the Prime Minister of the Republic of Kazakhstan and the Supreme Board of Trustees headed by the President of Kazakhstan. There is a long list of functions of BoT, among them the most important are elect the President of the University, approve budgets of the University, determine upper and lower limits of salaries of the university authorities, approve the budgeting rules, approve accounting policy of the University (NU Charter). Whereas, for example, functions of Board of Trustees of Kazakh National University are the following: member of BoT may participate in development and implementation of measures for university development, participate in academic council meetings. The difference between both governing bodies is obvious.

Similarly, Raza (2008) supports the view that government of Kazakhstan continues impose restrictions, “any meaningful autonomy been handed down to individual TEIs. The Ministry of Education and Science remains the central body responsible for both the broader management of the sector as well as being the primary body for regulation”. That means that Board of Trustees as a model of managing higher education institutions is still lack of clear rules and play more advisory role.

To sum up, universities are in the process of implementing autonomy and Board of Trustees was recently introduced in HEIs of Kazakhstan. I do not know how successful our universities will implement this reform and I do not know if government provides full autonomy to the universities, but I hope that Nazarbayev University will achieve its mission and will help other universities in implementing new reforms.


Nazarbayev University Charter.

Raza, R. (2009). Examining autonomy and accountability in public and private tertiary institutions. Human Development Network, The World Bank. Eriflim tarihi, 21(03), 2011.

State Program of Education Development in the Republic of Kazakhstan for 2011-2020.

Sagintayeva, A., Kurakbayev, K. (2014). Understanding the transition of public universities to institutional autonomy in Kazakhstan. European Journal of Higher Education, 1-14.

NU Strategy: is it effective?

According to Haward et al. (2003) strategic planning is “a conscious process by which an institution assesses its current state and the likely future condition of its environment, identifies possible future states for itself, and then develops organized strategies, policies, and procedures”(p. 3) In other words, strategic planning is kind of tool for organizing the present on the basis of the designing of the desired future. That is, a strategic plan is a road map to lead an organization from where it is now to where it would like to be in five or ten years.

Haward et al. (2003) in their study A Guide to Strategic Planning for African Higher Education Institutions identified four fundamental elements of an institution’s strategic plan, which are: a mission statement; 
a vision for the future premised on institutional values and goals.

In this post, I would like to discuss whether mission, vision and goals statements of NU strategic planning are effective or not. First of all, I would like to mention that Nazarbayev University (NU) is a new university which succeeded within three years in all directions, the same situation happened in 1997 when Astana became a capital of our republic. It was an incredible idea with ambitious goals but clear vision. Today we can say and we see that everything is possible with the support of an active and enthusiastic people who are not apathetic and believe in their future.

The “Vision” statement of the NU Strategy is “to give Kazakhstan and the world the scientists, academics, managers and entrepreneurs they need to prosper and develop” (NU Strategy, 2013-2020). Hayward, Ncayiyana and Johnson (2003) tell us “the vision should inspire, challenge and focus the institution” (p.17), so our university has a strategic vision, a clear understanding of its accomplishment, and the willingness and intention for change. And I think it is effective.

Although, the “Mission” statement of the strategy is kind of “short” but I think it still expresses a clear and precise aim. According to Maki’s study (2002) “an institution expresses its educational values and philosophy through its mission statement” (as cited in Hayward, Ncayiyana and Johnson, 2003, p.15). I like the words in the “Mission” statement like “a model” and “contribution” because it means that NU cares not only about it is own prestige and status but about all universities of Kazakhstan. It is very important, because in order to achieve success and be recognized in the world we have to be a cohesive nation.

In my opinion, goals of our university show that university has an understanding and vision what to do, where and how to follow to perform these five ambitious goals. The evidence is a development and creation of the “Operational Plan for 2014–2016” for the implementation of the Strategy. The Operational Plan is a basis for achieving the strategic goals and completing the challenges.

In conclusion, both Nazarbayev University and its Strategy can be example for other universities. Our university idea is successful because NU is working hard and in a short period of time NU achieved a lot. NU is succeeding not only on the “paper” but acts accordingly in the practice, showing others that it is a feasible task.


Hayward, F. M., Ncayiyana, D. J., & Johnson, J. E. (2003). A Guide to Strategic Planning for African Higher Education Institutions (Vol. 1).

Nazarbayev University Strategy 2013-2020.

Students’ Internship: Myth or Reality

Few days ago I met my niece who is a fourth year student at one of our universities. I knew that she was going to have an internship for the rest of the term. To my question how was your internship going she replied without any enthusiasm – “It is fine but actually I do not go there every day. I went  there just to introduce myself and to settle with organization authorities that they put stamp in my report at the end”. “How will you write report then?” – I continued. “I will write something” – replied she playing with her mobile.

I tried to encourage her and started to list the benefits that she could get from internship. First of all, students could gain experience and in addition to specialized skills of field, they could gain transferable skills which are required at any job (e.g. communication, computer proficiency and team work). Secondly, gain practical experience or finally, network, meeting with people, communicate and find new opportunities for future job. Unfortunately, I could not convince her to go and have her internship. She was confident that attending internships is waste of time and nobody would spend time on student.

I was not shocked because this situation is very familiar and it is not phenomenon that students may have a false internship. I do not state that all students are in the same situation but I know many students who even do not have a desire to take a “real” internship, attend it every day and learn new things.

The question is “Why is it happening?”

I would assume that students are not interested in future career and they chose their profession because of parental influence or they did not get enough UNT scores. Students are just lazy and prefer spend time watching TV or conversely, they have to earn money and do not have time for internships. Next could be the attitude of employers to students. They really do not have time to teach them, it is easier to put stamp and let them go.

Unfortunately, it is happening and government, universities, employers themselves should somehow motivate students to change their attitude to internships, especially those who study medicine and technical specialties.

Searching for Research Literature

My post is about the research literature, specifically where to look for resources for the literature review. I decided to write about it because I am struggling now with searching for the relevant literature for my review.

A review of the literature is an essential part of our research project and we have to spend a lot of time on it. According to Creswell (2014) a literature review is a written summary of journal articles, books and other documents that describes the past and current state of information on the topic of your study (p. 96). Well…all of you (hopefully) read Creswell and know all these stuff about why is it important and how to write literature review so I skip for now talking about it and focus on “places” where to find a literature. Let’s see places where I look for articles, empirical studies and books.

We are lucky and we have a huge catalog in our NU library and have access to many databases.

First of all, library catalogs which are helpful for looking for books that typically are most useful to areas like the humanities and history.

Secondly, university databases which are usually (unfortunately, not always) free to students through the library and provide access to scholarly journals and periodicals.

Thirdly, when I find an article relevant to my topic and go looking through References where I can find useful articles for my thesis. On the one hand, it is very helpful and save time but on the other hand, it is not guarantee that I can find this article on the Internet because sometimes there is no freely access to it.

Certainly, Google Scholar is very useful and accessible web search “machine” and I would recommend to check RefSeek web search where I found some interesting articles for my thesis.

Also, here you can find a lot of useful links to the search engines for academic research.

Finally, people who I worked with helped me a lot. Most of them are teachers and administrative staff (foreigners) who are luckily familiar with my topic and shared with some articles with me.

To sum up, I know that information I shared with you today is quite familiar to you but the purpose of my post is to get advices from you. It would be great if you add and share with an information where you look for necessary literature.

I wish everyone good luck and thank you in advance for sharing ideas with us.


Creswell, J. (2014). Educational research: Planning, conducting and evaluating quantitative and qualitative research (4th ed., Pearson new international ed.). Harlow, Essex: Pearson.