Transformations of higher education in the Republic of Kazakhstan
Table of contents: The Kazakh-American Free University Academic Journal №3 - 2011
Author: Sarsembayeva Gulnar, Kazakh-American Free University, Kazakhstan
Education is a purposeful process of upbringing for the interests of
an individual, society and state. It consists of students participating at all
educational levels. Under current market economy the level of secondary and
special education is determined by the demands of production, science
engineering and social relations.
Any society in any country is rarely satisfied with its system of
education. Even in the Soviet period there were a lot of talks about the crisis
in education. At the same time nowadays the topic of the crisis is relevant in
Kazakhstani society. Today we try to adopt the system of foreign education. The
transition from the controlled economy to the market economy resulted in
changing priorities in education. Are there new satisfactory models of
secondary and higher education suitable for Kazakhstan? What can we adopt from
the western economy to reform our educational system? What kind of training is
reasonable to be applied to our higher educational institutions? How should the
society raise the brainpower of Kazakhstan? What is the role of universities in
Is it possible to answer these questions and find a model of an
ideal school? Initially, we should try to find out if there is the ideal of
education and what is the model of an educated person? The world is not
integrated anymore; therefore, there hardly exists a single approach. But we do
not divide countries in ‘more developed’ or ‘less developed’. We single out the
countries to imitate and, as a result we can outline a certain model of an
educated person of the modern developed society.
If we really want to become a part of the civilization we call ‘the
developed world’ (by that we mean modern Western Europe and North America), we
have to think it over how to make our society similar to the western one. The
entrance of Kazakhstan to the Bologna process gives real advantages for Kazakhstani
higher educational institutions and students. They are the following: bringing
of educational programs and syllabi into accordance with the European
standards; recognition of the country’s qualifications and academic degrees; ensuring
academic mobility of teachers and students; recognition of the educational
credits of Kazakhstani students at foreign universities; implementing
two-diploma education program; recognition of Kazakhstani diplomas in European
Union; the right of graduates being employed in any country-participant of the
Kazakhstan has taken a considerable step forward
adopting a three-stage model of higher education: Bachelor – Master – Ph.D.
Despite of that, we have not been able to manage reaching full similarity with
the western educational system.
Let us consider the educational system of several Western European
countries and American educational system.
One of the specifics of the US educational system is the absence of
government-controlled system of education as each state has the right to
determine its structure independently. Academic degrees awarded after the
completion of full course are Bachelors, Masters and PhD. The list of degrees
is not regulated by US legislation. Colleges and universities independently
determine the list of the qualifications and the requirements for those
qualifications. Accrediting associations influence degrees’ titles, as well as
labor market and academic society. As a rule, American universities are
presented in a form of campuses with academic offices, laboratories, libraries,
dormitories, teachers’ housing, coffee shops and dining halls, sports and
Associate degree includes 2 years of training in the community
colleges after graduating from secondary school.
Bachelor’s degree requires 4 years of instruction at universities
after graduating from secondary school. A university graduate is to pass an
assigned number of credits and to pass all exams.
Master’s degree includes 1 or 2 years of instruction in the corresponding
major (Music, Business Administration, Technology, Pedagogy, etc.) at universities
after receiving Bachelor’s degree. A Master student has to write a final thesis
and defend it. Thus, the student demonstrates his/her ability to gather, analyze
and summarize the material. This often requires knowledge of foreign languages.
Doctoral degree (PhD) requires 5-7 years of research after
graduating from Bachelor’s school and often implies having a Master’s degree.
The level of education for different degrees is also different. For
instance, for getting a degree in nursing, accounting, engineering and
architecting it is enough to have Bachelor’s degree. But being a doctor, a
dentist or a lawyer requires Master’s degree or PhD.
An academic year consists of 2 or 3 semesters and lasts for about 9
months (from September till May or June). The basis of instruction is lectures
being read to large groups of students (sometimes up to a thousand students).
Each student has his/her own syllabus renewed with the help of an adviser two
times a year. Students are able to choose their academic courses themselves.
Students do not take notes of the lectures as instructors give them printed
copies. At the end of each semester students take exams. The expulsion of students
takes place very seldom as students are allowed to retake exams several times.
The specific features of educational system in England are strict discipline, classical ways of teaching, well-organized educational process and
all-round program of students’ preparation for business and social life.
In England and Wales receiving Bachelor’s degree requires 4 years of
instruction, in Scotland it takes 4 years. In case of receiving Bachelor's
degree, it is required to take Sandwich courses. As a result, the total term
increases correspondingly. Some universities suggest a degree in specific areas
such as Arts and Design, but this requires taking a basic course before 3 years
of instruction on the major.
An academic course finishing with awarding Bachelor’s degree in such
degrees as Medicine, Dentistry and Architecture takes up to 7 years of
There are several kinds of Bachelor’s Degree in Great Britain. Their names depend on major. There are four main degrees: ВA (Bachelor of Arts), BSC
(Bachelor of Science), BENG (Bachelor of Engineering), and LLB (Bachelor of
Law). There is also Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Dentistry. Bachelor’s
degree is awarded after 3 or 4 years of instruction at a full-time department.
British Bachelor’s degree is recognized all over the world providing graduates
with opportunities for a successful carrier in any country. Bachelor’s Degree
is the first level of higher education in Great Britain. The next level is
Postgraduate Courses begin after Bachelor’s degree and suggest
Master’s Degree and Ph.D.
There are two types of Master’s programs: research programs and
advanced training programs. As a rule, Master program consists of lecture
courses, seminars, exams and a diploma project. After passing the exams and
defending the project students are awarded with Master’s degree. Research
Master’s degree is called М.Phil (Master of Philosophy). The given degree is
received after 1 or 2 years of independent research work under the guidance of
In Great Britain a majority of Doctoral or PhD programs are mostly
research ones. There are neither lectures nor seminars. A scientific adviser
provides a student with the topic of the research and all necessary
requirements (place, equipment and materials necessary for the research). The
completion of research program requires 2 or 3 years. By the end of the program
a student has to demonstrate and publish the results of his/her research in
official summaries, scientific or specialized journals and to write Doctor’s
thesis. Doctor’s degree is awarded after successful defense of the thesis.
Higher education in France is available only after receiving a
Bachelor’s degree. Most of higher educational institutions (universities and
high schools) in France are under the authority of Ministry of Education. High
schools are more prestigious and it is more difficult to get in them. It is
possible only after 2-3 years of study at preliminary courses.
Higher education in France is divided into 3 cycles. The first cycle
implies 2 years of instruction (students study fundamental courses and several
optional subjects on majors). After the completion of the first cycle students
are given the diploma of general higher education, DEUG - Diplome d’etudes
universitaires generals. The second cycle also suggests 2 years of instruction
(students receive special education). After the completion of the first year
students take Licentiate exam. After the completion of the second year students
defend their diploma project and receive Master’s degree. The third cycle of
higher education includes 1 year of instruction, after which students receive
the diploma of higher special education, DESS - Diplome d’etudes superieures spesialisees
(it gives the right to practice the profession) or the diploma of higher advanced
education, DEA - Diplome d’etudes approfondies (it gives the right to take a
The modern system of higher education in Germany considerably
differs from the system of higher education in Kazakhstan. The principle of
academic freedom is proclaimed in Germany. According to it, all higher
educational institutions and all students are provided with freedom regarding
management and study, respectively. There is no a strict compulsory system of
education. Much depends on students' independence, responsibility, and
self-discipline. A German student does not attend classes together with the
course-mates, but according to the major and the program chosen makes up
his/her own syllabus and organizes his/her study to meet rather high
requirements of the major.
The system of higher education of the Federative Republic of Germany
includes different types of educational institutions that are able to meet the
needs of all students.
‘Hochschule’ is a humanitarian institution. ‘Fachhochschule’ is a
university of applied sciences or a high special school. The peculiarity of
‘Fachhochschule’ is a close link between theory and practice. All
‘Fachhochschule’ programs include two compulsory practical semesters. Besides,
each apprenticeship is shorter (usually 8 semesters). ‘Fachhochschule’ trains
high-skilled specialists for such areas as Engineering, Business
Administration, Design, and Social Sciences. After the completion of the course
students get the Diploma. Thus, ‘Fachhochschule’ attracts students with a
shorter track to their further career. Statistics data shows that a quarter of
all students get into ‘Fachhochschule’ university.
‘Universitaet’ is larger than ‘Hochschule’ or ‘Fachhochschule’. The
number of departments and courses is large too. It is up to 400. Students do
their scientific work, fundamental and applied researches. ‘Universitaet’
trains the specialists in Medicine, Natural Sciences, Technical Sciences,
Humanitarian Sciences, Jurisprudence, Theology, Economics, Sociology and
Agrarian Sciences. A wide range of department courses provides students with
inter-disciplinary education. ‘Universitaet’ provides students with the
following degrees: Diplom, Magister, Doktor. The academic title of an associate
professor or professor is ‘Habilitationrecht’. Furthermore, he is awarded with
a certificate giving the right to lecture at a university level.
‘Technische Universitaet’ is a technical university. Students
research different scientific areas of science such as Chemistry, Physics,
Mechanical Engineering, Electronics, Electrical Engineering, Material Science,
etc. Academic degrees are similar to those of ‘Universitaet’.
There are also a number of specialized higher educational
institutions such as pedagogical schools, theological schools, art schools,
music schools, cinematography schools, etc. The apprenticeship depends on the
type of the educational institution and the degree it provides with.
According to the framework ‘Law on Higher School’, the standard
apprenticeship (‘Regelstudienzeit’) i.e. the period when a student can take a
full academic course and take the first final exam for qualification which
includes 9 semesters. Another standard can be used only in special cases. For
instance, to get Bachelor’s degree (Bachelor or Bakkalaureusgrad) the standard
apprenticeship includes 3 or 4 years. After that a student can take the second
final exam for Master’s degree (Master or Magistergrad). In this case the
standard apprenticeship includes from 1 to 4 years. The standard apprenticeship
for ‘Fachhochschule’ with getting the diploma (Diplom FH) includes 4 years. In
order to prepare for Doctor’s thesis defense, a student has to study
additionally 2 or 5 years more. Due to the fact that study at university is
connected with research work, a lot of students increase the standard apprenticeship.
Nowadays the system of Kazakhstan education faces a number of
difficulties. It is not only the system of education that needs to be changed.
At the same time, students should change their attitude towards academic
freedom. The understanding of independent study should be imparted since
It is impossible to change the education system in a short period of
time as there are gaps between the levels of secondary and higher education.
There are also gaps between the levels of higher education and the system of
science which now has to retrain specialists and increase their professional
Speaking of education crisis it is helpful to understand the
necessity of drastic changes of the forms, methods and content of education. It
is necessary to form the diversity of educational systems including teaching
Philosophy and Scientific Manpower Training.
1. Novosselova L.A. Autonomous institutions./
Corporations and enterprises: Collected articles/ Managing editor M.A. Rozhkova
– M. Statut 2007. – p.168-196
2. Higher education reformations in Kazakhstan and Bologna process: information materials for practice, Almaty 2009, p. 120
3. Education in the end of XX century (workshop
Table of contents: The Kazakh-American Free University Academic Journal №3 - 2011