The modern vision of higher education in the Republic of Kazakhstan

Table of contents: The Kazakh-American Free University Academic Journal №3 - 2011

Author: Mambetkaziyev Aidar, Kazakh-American Free University, Kazakhstan

Active reforms of higher education in Kazakhstan and analysis of this social institution for the period of Kazakhstan’s independence indicates certain social trends and evolutionary development connected with the transition to free market economic relations. The quest for competitiveness of graduates and determination of their place in the labor market puts the universities in the special conditions aimed at diversifying of the institutional structures.

At the same time there is a tendency toward a constant quantitative increase in the number of students willing to get higher education, which reflects the rising importance of higher education and the prestige of the university diploma.

This leads to an expansion of educational services and consequently to the formation of the private education sector. However, due to the reduced state funding to the needs and development of higher education there is the destruction of a unified system of centralized procurement of institutions of educational, scientific documentation and the program material.

Such situation in the higher education system in Kazakhstan has necessitated the creation of a new national model, but unfortunately without regard to global principles of development in the higher education system, which led to decrease in the quality of education in general, especially in technical higher education sphere.

At the state level this leads to continual reform in education, especially, in higher education, as well as to the constant improvement of legislation regulating this activity.

The main stages of reforms in higher education in Kazakhstan were:

Stage 1 - establishment of regulatory and legislative framework of higher education (1991-1994);

Stage 2 – modernization of the higher education system; renewal of the content (1995-1998);

Stage 3 - decentralization of management of education financing, expansion of academic freedom of educational institutions (1999-2000);

Stage 4 - strategic development of higher professional education (the current stage that was launched in 2001).

The initial stage of reforms in education was the most complicated. The difficulty of that period was the periodic lag between the legislature and real events in the field of education, which required regulation. The main tasks of the first stage were creating a network of institutions of higher education, renewing specialties of higher education in order to ensure relative independence of Kazakhstan in personnel training, as well as meeting the needs of the labor market by regions.

In determining the legal status of universities the Higher Education Act regulates: both state and private higher education institutions can function in the Republic of Kazakhstan. Universities have the right to operate from the date of issuance of the license. They can independently form their student body and determine the learning activities to meet the needs and capabilities of the individual.

Universities can provide full-time education, in-service education and externship. There is a single national standard of higher education for the proper profile for all forms of training on a particular specialty. In 1994 the State Standard of Higher Education of Kazakhstan, which identified the introduction of a multilevel structure of higher education which includes academic bachelor and master degrees, was approved.

By the end of the first stage of higher education reforms there were problems of strategic importance: imbalance of the structure of training in the context of specialties; inefficiency of government regulation, spread of unfair competition in the market, which reduced the quality of higher education and caused the devaluation of the local high school diplomas.

Also, there was a trend when both private and public universities in search of support during the formation of the list of specialties were forced to focus not so much on the economic situation, but on stereotypes of mass consciousness. The tendency of over-training in legal and economic fields appeared in the early years and lasted for some time. Law and economics were the main and even the only areas of education for the vast majority of private schools.

Economic and law specialties were opened in many state universities, but they did not have a lot in common with their specialization.

State attempted to regulate the growth and specialization in higher education system was one of the outcomes of this stage. In 1993 the first Regulation on licensing of educational institutions was adopted. However, this provision regulated only the main aspects of the problem. But even in this period, the share of educational services decreased, thus decreasing the accessibility of education.

The second stage of Kazakhstan education reformations was crucial because it was characterized by the start of integration of our country into the world educational market. The most important point was the adoption of the Law of 13 December 2007 "On ratification of the Convention on the Recognition of Qualifications concerning Higher Education in Europe" (a convention signed on April 11, 1997 in Lisbon).

The third stage was characterized by decentralization of administration and financing of education (1999-2000). In 1999, there came a time when innovations in higher education became visible for a considerable part of society and began to affect the interests of the broad segment of the population. Prior to this period, Kazakhstan reforms of higher education almost entirely followed reforms of Russian education.

Many factors affected the reforms:

- Commonality of the situation (although Russia had better starting positions because of the presence of a greater scientific, methodical, personnel and logistics);

- Kazakhstan's dependence on Russia in terms of methodological support, and rooted in the habit of several generations of Kazakhstan to focus on Russian university and research centers, and multiple links on a personal level;

- Common use of the Russian language by Kazakhstan citizens and the tendency to use it for the vast majority of world scientific and educational literature. Kazakhstan and Russia had common achievements and common mistakes in the educational reformation process.

The Russian system of higher education at its origin followed a model of the German system. In the German system, there is still no certification ladder "Bachelor - Master." This particular model is borrowed by the post-Soviet reformers of higher education from the American model. For Kazakh universities that innovation seemed alien, as it confused the system of certification of specialists. Mechanically some forms of knowledge control were adopted.

However, really advanced features of Western models, such as competition-based preparatory courses, the differentiated grading points for the disciplines, flexibility and mobility of educational programs, a variety of funding sources and forms of business activities did not attract the desired interest of the government bodies that form the educational policies in Russia and Kazakhstan.

Over the last years, the paths of education reforms in Russia and Kazakhstan went their separate ways. Due to better economic opportunities Russia provided a certain space for the market of educational services and the development of private educational institutions, but in its education policy it focused primarily on the preservation of public and free higher education.

Kazakhstan has chosen a much more liberal policy in higher education. The key points of a qualitatively new stage of reforms in Kazakhstan are:

- Firstly, the transition to a new system of forming of a student body,

- Secondly, denationalization and privatization of most higher education institutions.

The most important achievement of the third stage of reforms was the adoption of the Law of 7 June 1999 "On education" and introduction of changes and additions to it by the law of Kazakhstan on 22 November 1999.

The system of grants and loans raised the level of accessibility of higher education in a strong dependence on the current socio-economic situation in the country. The legislation of Kazakhstan, particularly, the Law "On education" does not clearly define principles, objectives and functions of the formation of state demand for specialties and the number of state grants.

At the same time, the concept that the volume of state grants should be determined exclusively by the current needs was put forward. If we consider a strong trend of steadily reducing the public sector in the economy, social sphere, science and culture, it becomes apparent that free higher education may be a rare and even exceptional event in the life of Kazakhstan. Thus, the important task of conceptual definition of the state's role in the development and functioning of higher education is preserved in Kazakhstan.

In order to implement the main provisions of the Law on Education, 13 resolutions on Higher Education were adopted. Among them we can note: "On the State Educational Grant," "On Approval of the multilevel structure of higher education," "On approval of the development, confirmation and the duration of the state educational standards," "On Approval of the state certification organizations education", "On Approval of Regulations for licensing of educational activities ", etc.

The decree of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan of September 30, 2000 approved the State Program "Education", which for the first time fully considered all aspects of the integral continuous system of education. The program defined the main directions of development of the education system for the period up to 2005. Funding of State education programs was to be carried out within the resources of the State budget meant for the education system as well as through loans, technical and grant assistance of international organizations and sponsors.

If we consider the modern period of development of higher education, it is planned to achieve the following main objectives:

- Creation of an effective system of educational management, which will ensure the formation of a competent professional person, a competitive specialist who can independently and creatively solve professional problems and realize personal and social significance of professional activity and be responsible for its results;

- Ensuring the implementation of the principle of "life-long learning";

- Creation of conditions for producing high-quality, competitive, result-oriented education.

To summarize the above, I would like to draw the following conclusions. The Republic of Kazakhstan is recognized by the international community as a country with a free market economy. During the short period of independence the country has achieved significant growth of the economy, integrating with the global community.

In this regard, it significantly increases the role and importance of education system and human resources as the criteria of social development, economic strength and national security. Changes in the social relations system influence education, requiring mobility, adequate response to the realities of a new historical stage and meet the needs of economic development.

Kazakhstan education system continues to develop in older structures, contents and methodologies, not allowing it to take its rightful place in the world educational space.

To stimulate the development of higher education and improve its quality, it is important to realize:

- Further improvement of the higher education specialties classifier to address the segmentation, narrow-specialization, imbalances and unnecessary duplication of training;

- Development and introduction of advanced systems and technologies for learning, including credit and distance learning;

- Expanding access to higher education by increasing the number of educational grants, creating a new model of student loans;

- Introduction of a mechanism of allocation of State grants for the training of professionals among the best universities in the country;

- Development of social partnership to attract employers to the organization of professional internships, training of students, employment of graduates;

- Increase in educational grants from companies interested in training and obtaining qualified specialists in their business profile;

- Development of regulations, organizational and economic mechanisms for building scientific institutions for the training of specialists with higher education;

- Ensuring transparency of financial and business affairs of schools;

- Strengthening and updating of the facilities of higher education institutions;

- Formation of new principles of management and marketing of universities based on strategic planning, quality management system and improving of the autonomy;

- Creation of conditions for preferential training of highly qualified technical specialties, ensuring the implementation of the Strategy of Industrial and Innovation Development of Kazakhstan for 2003-2015.

Table of contents: The Kazakh-American Free University Academic Journal №3 - 2011

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