Tag Archives: Higher education

Do we really meet the requirements of the Bologna process?


Development of higher education requires to meet high demands of society and to correspond to the global and international trends observed in many countries. Therefore, the Bologna process is considered as the examples of international cooperation, formation of education spaces, significance of public responsibility, and academic mobility. The adoption of Bologna process and its principles is a voluntary action (A Tempus Study, 2012). Kazakhstan became the first country in Central Asia which signed and ratified the Lisbon Convention and joined the Bologna Process.

Bologna Process requires from its members that they should focus on some actions: Comparable degrees of diplomas; adoption of a system essentially based on credit transfer system; promotion of academic mobility for faculty and students; cooperation with European countries in quality assurance; lifelong learning (Yergebekov, Temirbekova, 2012). Therefore, there is a question arises: Do we really meet the requirements of the Bologna process?

We have seen in practice that there are limits on the adoption of the Bologna process, in Kazakhstani higher education system. Though one of the core principles of the Bologna Process is referred to recognition of degrees, diplomas of Kazakhstani universities are mostly not recognized in many developed countries (Sarsembayeva, Kaigorodtsev, 2013). It can be related to lack of joint programs and degrees and these programs has not been provided by the legislation of Kazakhstan and it causes hindrance with implementation of the reform in general (A Tempus Study, 2012).

Implementation of the Bologna principles in Kazakhstan has been restrained by inefficient financing system. This can be explained again by centralized governance from the Ministry of Education and Science and funding of public universities only (OECD, 2007). Modernization of higher education among private universities, which comprised the majority, has been suppressed.  Credit system also can be referred as another problem with the implementation of the Bologna Process. The сredit system was supposed to provide that each student freely chooses lessons he/she wants to attend and his/her teachers. But, due to the Soviet legacy of distribution of hours of teachers at the beginning of academic year, the number of courses and hours a teacher will give is known, and the students do not have any choice relatively their courses to take. So, electives eventually become required courses without much possibility to choose neither the course, nor the teacher (Yergebekov, Temirbekova, 2012).

Another problem with implementation of the Bologna Process was inability to ensure mobility of students and academic staff. In fact, there are some common obstacles for student mobility as “insufficient funding, insufficient language skills, low awareness of information, limited recognition of study abroad periods and of foreign qualifications; immigration and visa impediments” (European Higher Education Area, 2012). Yet, academic mobility, or more precisely, its inconsistent nature is stipulated by lack of flexibility of courses and credit transfer in terms of exchange programs, as well as cost of tuition fee and accommodation; besides there are no regulating mechanisms in Kazakhstan adopted that can facilitate student mobility. As for the mobility of academic staff, the program areas are restricted by some fields and language proficiency (OECD, 2007).

If there is a chance to do anything differently with the problems related to the adoption of the Bologna process, it can be stated as to increase public funding and establish mechanisms for involving international organizations and employers into this process (OECD, 2007). In addition, it is recommended to raise proficiency of the English language for academic staff in order to increase their mobility. In order to prepare a competitive student on the international level it is required to train academic staff and make their curricula more globally challenging.

As a final point, I would close by saying that the implementation of the Bologna Process is still under way and should be researched in order to face existing challenges and provide internationalization of higher education in Kazakhstan.


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A Tempus Study: State of Play of the Bologna Process in the Tempus Partner Countries, 2012. Retrieved from http://eacea.ec.europa.eu/tempus/tools/documents/study09_SoP_Bologna_0412_en_web.pdf

European Higher Education Area. (2012). Beyond the Bologna process: Creating and connecting national, regional and global higher education areas. Statement of the third Bologna policy forum (pp. 1 – 3). Bucharest.

OECD, (2007). Reviews of national policies for education: Higher education in Kazakhstan. MA, USA: OECD.

Sarsembayeva, G. J., Kaigorodtsev, A. A. (2013). Kazakhstan v Bolonskom protsesse. G-Global. Retrieved from http://www.group-global.org/ru/publication/view/1992

Tempus, (2012). Higher education in Kazakhstan. Retrieved from http://eacea.ec.europa.eu/tempus../participating_countries/overview/Kazakhstan.pdf

The European Higher Education Area in 2012: Bologna Process Implementation Report. Retrieved from http://www.ond.vlaanderen.be/hogeronderwijs/bologna/links/documents/Kazakhstan_national_report_2010.pdf

Yergebekov, M., Temirbekova, Z. (2012). The Bologna Process and problems in higher education system of Kazakhstan. Procedia: Social and Behavioral Sciences, 47, 1473 – 1478. doi: 10.1016/j.sbspro.2012.06.845



Essential communication skills that MOOCs still lack in order to replace traditional universities

In this blog, I want to argue that MOOCs or massive open online courses such as Coursera or Edx still cannot fully replace traditional university system. Today, we all are fascinated by the learning opportunities that MOOCs offer to us.  Boy, did I imagine that one day I would study Financial Markets course from the Nobel-prize winning professor of economics at Yale University. That was exciting experience for me. When I enrolled to the course, I watched all the online video lectures, completed the online assignments, interacted with peer students from all over the world on the forums and eventually wrote a final exam. After all, I received my statement of accomplishment from this course.

Although, I was studying at one of the most elite university in the world from the famous professor, I lacked the answer and question session that usually happens during the face-to-face class. There was only one-way flow of interaction. I could not ask him a question that would probably lead me, the class or even the professor into a new cognitive dimension. Of course, online forums try to develop a learning community that would facilitate collaboration and cognitive interactions (Glance D.G., Forsey M. and Riley M., 2013). Yes, I interacted on the forum but only in order to find an answer to an assignment that I was struggling with. Not more. I could not use deeper questions, since if I posted them, it did not always find the critical discourse. Hence, face-to-face and group communication is an important factor to facilitate critical discourse and flow of ideas into comprehensible form. Garrison and Cleveland-Innes (2005) in their study reveal that deep learning does not occur if there is no considerable instruction involvement. For instance, I remember getting an insight about principle of overproduction when I was discussing an article with my students. The insight that I did not understand five years before that.

What is clear is that even though the MOOCs offer new and breakthrough innovations in higher education, the traditional universities still have their own strengths that they need to understand and take full advantage of in order to be competitive in this new learning environment.


Garrison D.R. and Cleveland-Innes M. (2005). Facilitating Cognitive Presence in Online Learning: Interaction Is Not Enough. American Journal of Distance Education. Vol. 19, Iss. 3

Glance D.G., Forsey M. and Riley M. (2013). The pedagogical foundations of massive open online courses. First Monday. Volume 18, Number 5-6 May 2013. Retrieved on September 13, 2015 from http://firstmonday.org/ojs/index.php/fm/article/viewArticle/4350/3673

Higher education: on credit and for a long time

Recently, a senator from Kazakhstan, B.Aytimova urged young Kazakh students to live and study by making use of credit. Aytimova used as an example the model showing how it has benefited students engaging in this practice in other countries. However, she did not take into account living costs and average finances of recent graduates and their parents in Kazakhstan. It makes one wonder if it is an applicable lifestyle for young citizens of Kazakhstan. Therefore, it would be valuable to evaluate the experience of those in the USA students loan system and its consequences for students from Kazakhstan dealing with similar conditions.

Many American students study at colleges and universities on credit. It is the norm in American society. However, the recent economic crisis made their parents and children to think: Is it worth it to study at college or university on credit if there is no guarantee that you might find a job after graduation.The same situation is occurring in Kazakhstani society. Many middle class parents and students can not afford to pay for higher education. However, they are forced into this practice in order to cover the tuition. The payment for higher education is constantly rising. Before entering every applicant makes a contract where it is written that the administration of the university has the right to increase the tuition for 10 -20% or more each year. It happens because of inflation of local currency. It means that Kazakh students have to make larger and larger payment each year, so their loans increase too. Many students can not go against the system because they signed contracts. If they do not accept these requirements they will not be accepted. After graduation many Kazakh students can not find jobs in occupations of their choice as young Americans can not find jobs either. Therefore, many students do part-time jobs which is not in the field of study. It is easier to get student loan in the USA than in Kazakhstan. You have to collect a lot of documents to prove that you are worth it to get a loan in Kazakhstan.

Time is the second challenge for young Americans as well as their counterparts in Kazakhstan. When American students graduate from college or university they become debtors automatically. It means they have to work and spend their best time of life on refunding. The trend is they pay off their student loans to banks approximately at the age of 33 or even as late as at 41. Kazakhstani students also struggle with this problem. Many of them will be free of debt at 30 or possible later. It depends on how lucky they are to find well-paid jobs. Hence, Kazakh and American youth work hard and spend their youthfulness refinancing their debts. It is not life.

The most crucial point in this issue is the sum of student’s loan. It can be different. American students have debts which are on average $30000 after graduation. Today it is challenging for American youth to find job. Therefore, many of them decide to continue their education. Hence, they take credit for education again. They expect that a master’s degree might increase their chances to find well-paid jobs. As a result, they have even more debts then they had. The similar situation is occurring in Kazakhstan.

Higher education is crucial for students to become professionals in favorite occupations. It gives opportunity to become who they want to be. Taking student loan is an instrument for achieving this goal. Therefore, student loan must be accessible for loan and repaying of debt.

Focus on Quality: External Assessment of Educational Achievements

The last year of undergraduate studies is usually the most important and stressful for all senior students. It is time for writing bachelor’s thesis and prepare for final state examinations. However, there is one more challenge left before successful completion of bachelor’s studies – External Assessment of Educational Achievements (EAEA).

EAEA is a test which was introduced in 2011 by the Ministry of Education and Science, in order to evaluate the level of knowledge possessed by students and quality of programs provided by higher education institutions (State Program on Education Development, 2010). EAEA is undertaken at the beginning of the final year of studies and has four main directions: education, law, social sciences and hard sciences. The assessment pursues several goals, the major ones are:  monitor the current situation of education quality, assess the effectiveness of educational processes and present the comparative analysis of educational services provided by different institutions (Committee for Control of Education and Science, 2012).

The previous initiative in the assessment of educational achievements – Intermediate State Control (ISC) had the same mission but with the differences in goals and implementation process. More specifically, the basic distinction between EAEA and ISC is the refusal of any sunctions such as accreditation commission or inspections for higher education institutions which presented not sufficient results during the assessment. Additionally, students who are not successfully performed at ISC could be expelled; the results of EAEA do not affect the students’ academic achievements or ability to graduate from the higher education institutions (Committee, 2012).

The data collected throughout the country is usually used by the Ministry of Education and Science in order to monitor the situation over the quality of educational services provided by accredited higher education institutions, and also develop recommendations and suggestions in order to improve and strengthen the programs. The results of EAEA can also be helpful in creating national ranking list of higher education institutions. Thus, the assessment has great impact on the quality improvement in higher education institutions and can provide necessary information for constituent groups in Kazakhstan.

The participation in the assessment is voluntary and institutions have a choice to select students who will take a part in test. Even being the recent initiative EAEA attracts higher education institutions and each year involves more and more universities to participate. The attractiveness of the assessment and general positive attitude towards improvements in the quality of higher education system can be understood as a proof that the right direction in reforms has been chosen.

However, there are some challenges in implementation and organization processes. First of all, being at the last year of undergraduate studies, students experience stress; being pressed by their final state examination, diploma work and compulsory internship. In this context, additional examination seems to increase the stress level and influence on their academic performance. Even though, results of EAEA don’t affect on students’ future academic indicators it is still important examination and students try really hard revising materials and preparing for the test.

Secondly, the attitude of the teachers, who believe that preparation for EAEA, is more important that studying the core courses. This situation occurred at my university when instructors had shifted the focus on the test preparation, rather than on classes of the program’s curriculum. To anticipate such situations, students and faculty should be well informed about the main purpose of assessment and do not be destructed from their primary studies and responsibilities.

Finally, as higher education institutions have an opportunity to select students for test, they provide the policy of selecting only talented and well-prepared students. It is undoubtedly increases the credibility of institution but do not provide the real situation with education services’ quality. Thus, the results cannot be fully trusted as the majority of institutions present their best students instead of providing maximum variation of students with different level of academic achievements. Hence, the monitoring body itself should select students for participation in order to ensure the variety of students’ profile.

Summing up, despite on some imperfections of the assessment, the results of EAEA provide more complete and comprehensive overview of the quality of the programs provided by higher educational institutions and undoubtedly, will facilitate the process of modification and enhancement of the competitiveness of higher education system in Kazakhstan.


Committee for Control of Education and Science. (2012). Instruction for External Assessment of Education Achievements Implementation. Retrieved from: http://control.edu.gov.kz/ru/content

Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Kazakhstan. (2010). State Program of Education Development in the Republic of Kazakhstan for 2011-2020.



Annual International Education Fair in Astana

For educational institutions the beginning of the February is always associated with the International Education Fair. School graduates participate in the fair to get more information about foreign universities all over the world.

This year the global education fair took place in Radisson hotel on the 3rd of February. During the whole day school children of the 9th, 10th, and 11th grades were visiting the fair. The fair is always organized in the high level because the place, where the fair takes place, is always very comfortable, big enough and easy to get. Together with foreign universities` representatives local translators are provided. In order to decide what university to choose for children, many parents prefer to know more information about universities.

This is the second year I participate in the fair. I can compare the level of organization of how many visitors come every year. The school graduates make me proud of them because they are prepared enough good to enter the university. At the education fair they have not challenges in communicating with foreign university representatives. Almost all students of the 11th grade have passed IELTS and earned high scores such as 7.0 or 7.5. It seems that every year students realize that they have real opportunity to study abroad; therefore, being proficient in English language is very important. Besides, children are very motivated to enter the world class universities all over the world. Their ambitious are very high so that let them be competitive among other students.

The education fairs always help school graduates gain more useful information in order to choose what to study and where to study. The foreign universities` representatives share all need information about the university they come from. They present special scholarships or provide overview pictures of the university campuses and explain advantages of studying abroad. Sometimes parents make contacts with representatives and keep in touch with universities in order to be sure that they make a right decision about the educational institution for their children. Without a doubt, the first step of education is a crucial on the way towards successful career.

If your research contains interviews, then this post will help you…

Dear Master’s students,

some of us will have interviews during the research study. I will have 10. As a proponent of all types of optimization, I decided to check if the time we have to spend on transcription can be reduced and.. I found it. Please check this website and it will help to transcribe audio files directly into text! It definitely works for transcribing audio files being recorded in real time through this web site – I have checked it. According to this video it is also possible to transcribe any audio file that you have! However, my first attempts were unsuccessful. If you find a way to realize the latter option, please share with us =)

Hope, this information will be helpful for you and you will save hours or even days of your priceless time. Keep trying and enjoy your thesis preparation!

P.S.: although the format of this post doesn’t match the academic blog style, let’s share useful tips with each other to simplify our master’s journey.


“And she told each one of us that we matter”

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“Who’s influenced you the most in your life?”
“My principal, Ms.Lopez.”
“How has she influenced you?”
“When we get in trouble, she doesn’t suspend us. She calls us to her office and explains to us how society was built down around us. And she tells us that each time somebody fails out of school, a new jail cell gets built. And one time she made every student stand up, one at a time, and she told each one of us that we matter.”

I believe some of you are following “The Humans of New York” blog  or their page on Facebook, where this post appeared on January 19th, 2015. If not, then it will be interesting for you to know what followed this short dialogue between a boy Vidal from Brooklyn and the photographer.

January 22nd, 2015. The post with Vidal resonated so much, that the photographer Brandon Stanton decided to meet with the mystery Ms. Lopez. She turned out to be a principal in Mott Hall Bridges Academy, a middle school in the under-served neighborhood of Brownsville, Brooklyn. This neighborhood has the highest crime rate in NY. To give you a picture what this amazing woman is like, check what she says about her school and students: “This is a neighborhood that doesn’t necessarily expect much from our children, so at Mott Hall Bridges Academy we set our expectations very high. We don’t call the children ‘students,’ we call them ‘scholars.’ Our color is purple. Our scholars wear purple and so do our staff. Because purple is the color of royalty. I want my scholars to know that even if they live in a housing project, they are part of a royal lineage going back to great African kings and queens. They belong to a group of individuals who invented astronomy and math. And they belong to a group of individuals who have endured so much history and still overcome. When you tell people you’re from Brownsville, their face cringes up. But there are children here that need to know that they are expected to succeed.” The result of that meeting was a decision to create a fund that “will provide each incoming 6th grade class at Mott Hall Bridges Academy a chance to get out of their neighborhood and visit a new place. And that place is Harvard University.” The initial target of this fund is to raise 100 000$. Leaping ahead, it will be then named after the boy, from whom everything has started: “Let’s send kids to Harvard: Vidal scholarship fund”.

January 28th, 2015 Over 700 000$ are raised. Ms.Lopez presents the idea of this fund to students and at the end announces: “As a result of this fundraiser, the entire school will be going to visit Harvard. We’re all going to Harvard!”

February 3rd, 2015 – Vidal, Ms. Lopez and Brandon are invited to to The Ellen DeGeneres Show.

February 5th, 2015 – what else they could dream about? Nothing, unless it is an audience with…the President Obama in his Oval office. Yes, he invited three of them and Vidal had a unique opportunity to get an advice from the President and ask about his tough times and the person he has most inspired by.

Within 5 days the fund raised over 1 mln dollars and it is still raising. At the moment of writing this post there are 41191 donators, 1 240 194 $, while the initial target was 100 000$… One accident dialogue on the street of Brooklyn led to the movement which inspires millions of people through all over the world.

My post was inspired by the latter discussions in this blog, where we argued about the possibility of changing our Kazakhstani education system and the relations between students and teachers. I believe that such people as Ms.Lopez should be an example for all of us – honest, kind and dedicated to her work. So let’s become our local Ms.Lopez to inspire our children and reform the education system. What do you think?


It exists! Investigation of one impossible, but real education system.

Tough teacher, a fear to be asked at the blackboard, infinite classes of abhorrent physics, a school diary that have to be shown to parents… Sounds similar? Unfortunately, for the most of our citizens this is a portrait of their schools. I also considered these “attributes” as inevitable for all school systems until the recent week when I got acquainted with the Finnish system. The more you read about it, the more it sounds impossible. Check it out and you will understand what I am talking about:

First, no grades. Yes, that sounds impossible, but it is a reality for the Finnish kids: till the 3rd grade there are no grades at all. Then, till the 7th grade children will be assessed by the verbal rating scale.

Second, no homework. Here I experienced something we call “razryv shablona” on russian slang or cultural shock, if you wish. The amount of homework is reduced as much as possible; children should have time for rest – after all, they are kids and their childhood should be full of game hours, not hours of staying late studying. Here I would like to mention that by my own observations for the last 10 years the workload of Kazakhstani pupils have raised dramatically – schools compete in number of extracurricular courses and homework, parents burden their children with additional lessons of music, karate, and English classes. My nieces come home at 7 pm, have a supper and then study till 12 am.

Third, individuality. Do you remember struggling with physics/mathematics/literature(change to any course you want)? I am more than sure that you also had courses that you really liked. Now imagine that your individual curriculum is built based on your preferences and extend this practice towards ALL pupils. Congratulations, you got the Finnish individual approach of building curriculum for their children.

Fourth, diversity. Maybe it is not the most impressive one, but I was really envy reading that. Starting from the 4th grade, there is a variety of elective courses that students can choose based on their own preferences and almost always it includes lessons of playing on musical instruments. Till the end of the school life, students will try all possible instruments from piano till double-bass.

Fifth, equality. All schools have the same conditions, equipment, funding and quality. All students are treated equal – no differentiation by academic standing or physical disabilities. All parents are equal because teachers never know their social status or profession.

Impressive? Oh yeah, more than that. It is worth to mention that this is just a small part. I believe that you have experienced the same mix of admiration, unbelief, and curiosity as I had. But besides these feelings did you notice a small sense of envy? What could happen if we were taught in the system like that? May be you would have been a dancer or artist now? We will never get an answer. But this sense is a signal for us, as future policy makers, to think. And yes, as soon as I have an opportunity, I will go to Finland to check myself their incredible education system. Will you join me?

Classical organizational theory

Dear HE, SL, MA, and Inclusive education, I want to share with you some ideas from Organiztional Behavior and Governance classes. We all more or less will work in organizations and this information can be useful. I want to start from the begining of the “organizational era”, from classical organizational theory. It includes historical roots of the organizations.

It is hard to say at what time exactly the Classical Organization Theory exist. It is usually associated with industrialization period in Great Britain, when huge factories operated, because it is the field of organization. However the roots of management come from ancient time of Moses and Socrates. The idea of Socrates is that good manager in one field can operate successfully in another field. The reason of it is that any organizations have the same structure, even if the goal of organizations is different (p. 27). Classical organization theory is the first fundamental theory, which is true even in our time. It was modernized, but basic features remain the same. According to Shafrits et all. (2005) they are: Org-n exist to accomplish production – related and economic goals; there is one best way to organize production, and that way can be found through systematic, scientific inquiry; production is maximized through specialization and division of labor; people and organizations act in accordance with rational economic principles (p.28). The way organization operates reflects the need of the time, the social values. In the past, organization was viewed as a machine. Workers were not individuals, but elements of those machines. To use all possibilities of machines were key to success. And it means that workers had an idea of “the best way” to organize production.

There are several important people. First, Adam Smith, the father of economics, found correlation between economics and organizations. His main idea was division of labor. The second name is Daniel C. McCallum, the authority of American railroad industry; his main idea was division of responsibilities. Next is Frederick Winslow Taylor, found general applicable principles of administration trough scientific investigation- “scientific management”. It helps to raise productivity, spirit of workers, rise profit. He made possible to plan and control organizational operations. His theory later started to call Taylorism movement. However the first man who developed comprehensive theory is Henri Fayol (french). He theorizes all elements needed to organize and manage big organizations .Max Weber studied bureaucratic organizations. Core of any org-ns: economic, social, political. Daniel A. Wren wrote that management is a process which reflects to the cultural environment.

To crown it all classical organization theory based on the “one best way” approach. One best way can be used in any given production task, therefore it can be used in any task of social organization.


Shafritz , J.M. , Ott, J.S.,  Jang, Y.S. (2005). Classics of Organizational Theory,  Cengage


Accreditation of Higher Education in Kazakhstan


One of the priorities of national development of education is high quality. Accreditation system is the specific tool which helps to ensure high quality in higher education. According to the State program of education development of the Republic of Kazakhstan for 2011-2020, since 2012 the accreditation of higher education institutions will be conducted by non-governmental organizations. In this post I will inform about the outcomes of this reform initiative and problems of accreditation system of Kazakhstan. Personally, I think that creating the independent accreditation organizations is beneficial for quality assurance system in Kazakhstan.

Sharing the government competence of ensuring the quality of education through accreditation helps to decentralize the state power which positively influences on the level of accreditation process. Comparing to the state attestation, which aims to control and revise the documents, accreditation has the recommendation character and estimate the compliance of education quality and stakeholders’ expectations. There are several outcomes to education organizations from this initiative. Firstly, it is beneficial for institutions because the ensuring of high quality reflects the positive results of academic work. Secondly, Kashuk (2007) indicates the advantages of university attraction for students. Specifically, she mentions that students will be provided by useful information about education institution which helps to choose them the appropriate one.

However, the accreditation process of higher institutions has not been adapted to the international requirements and was the only one of the types of state control. The external evaluation was carried out only on quantitative goal, which led to some extent to the duplication of state certification procedures. Monastirskii (2008) proposes another problem regarding accreditation from employers’ perspective. In current job market, the employers usually criticize the young colleagues because of the lack of communication skills, abilities, creative thinking and inability to work in the team. Therefore, the requirements for accreditation should be more strict and related to academic work innovative techniques.

Kazakhstan decided to follow international standards of education in order to improve its level, including the accreditation. That is why the change of government’s role is crucial. Despite the fact that the majority of authors reveal that the problems in implementation of the accreditation reforms in Kazakhstan are connected by poor methodological support, lack of experience and quantitative approach, I think that creating the independent agencies in Kazakhstan is important step to improve the quality of higher education. It will help to improve not only the accreditation system, but also the whole higher education of Kazakhstan.


Kashuk, L. I. (2007). The quality assurance system of higher education: assessment and management mechanisms (on the materials of the Republic of Kazakhstan). (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from http://yadocs.ru/tw_files2/urls_1/262/d-261879/7z-docs/1.pdf.

Monastirskii, A. D. (2008). Higher Education Accreditation: Key issues and solutions. Proceedings from the International scientific-methodic seminar “Role of accreditation in improvement of higher education quality”, 87. Almaty.