Performance evaluation of university competitiveness in the field of international partnership

Table of contents: The Kazakh-American Free University Academic Journal №4 - 2012

Mambetkaziyev Yerezhep, Kazakh-American Free University, Kazakhstan
Mambetkaziyev Aidar, Kazakh-American Free University, Kazakhstan

The process of globalization of international cooperation in the field of education is a necessary condition for Kazakhstan to join the global education community, as it determines the way of integration with national systems of education of the most developed countries, provides mutual recognition of educational achievements and serves as the basis for equal cooperation in the other areas of international relations.

The international partnership is one of the main components of the reform of the education system of Kazakhstan, as it promotes the definition of reform’s final goals and objectives through consideration of generally recognized global trends and standards of education. Realization and development of international relations rises additional funding in the form of grants and technical assistance, which increases the attractiveness of the higher education institution, improves its image and, as a consequence, increases its competitiveness [1, 2].

Let us examine the evolution of the international educational activities. Since the late 40's of the XX century, developed world countries started positioning international educational exchange programs as a part of their foreign policy, putting them by importance in one line with military and economic aid to the developing countries. By the end of the last century, there had been formed a separate branch of the global economy - the international education market, with tens of billions dollars in sales and the flow of international academic mobility of students numbering several million people a year. According to the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development, more than half a million foreign students study annually at different universities all over the world. The leader in this area is the United States, with 500,000 foreign students studying there every year approximately.

Development of the international activities of universities of Kazakhstan is closely connected with the development of international activities of the Republic of Kazakhstan in general, and education in particular. Today, Kazakhstan promotes the open door policy, by welcoming a variety of local initiatives to attract foreign capital and the most valuable experience, advanced foreign technology and equipment to assist transformations in our society. The most popular and actively functioning international grant programs in Kazakhstan are:

- Erasmus Mundus CASIA;

- "Research visit" program of the "Prague development center" (Czech Republic);

- UNESCO joint program with the Government of Japan;

- The program of JSC "Center of International Programs" - administrator of "Bolashak" international scholarship of the President of Kazakhstan

- MUSKIE - Muskie Scholarship Program (Muskie), administered by the American Council for International Research and Exchanges (IREX)

- UGRAD - another program administrated by American Council of International Research and Exchanges (IREX);

- DAAD - German Academic exchange program. Central Asian Scholarship Fund - a program administered by the Advisory Centre of Education Abroad by organization "Bilim - Central Asia".

Kazakhstan does not support isolationism and actively continues to cooperate in different international financial, social and other organizations, demonstrating desire to play a leading political role in the world community. Kazakhstan continues its integration into the world of higher education, actively developing new educational technologies, solving organizational issues of accessibility and structuring of higher education, and convertibility of national diplomas. The government proved its intention by providing support to foundation in the 90s of such universities as Kazakhstan Institute of Management, Economics and Strategic Research, Kazakh-American Free University, Kazakh-Turkish University; later, in the 2000th - to Kazakh-British Technical University (KBTU) and, finally, "Nazarbayev University", designed to be a model of a national university, which uses international standards and experience in its teaching.

In practice, it is difficult to separately evaluate the impact of international partnership on change in university competitiveness. Rather, you can set the connection between international education programs and organizational development of the university. However, such an assessment is possible.

Study of the problem of indicators of higher education institution competitiveness in general, and international partnership activities, in particular, showed that there is no unanimous understanding of this issue in theoretical sources, which contain both identical and distinct approaches [3, 4, 5, 6, 7].

Indicators used in legal acts of the Ministry of Education and Science are not up to date and cannot serve as indicators of program goals in this area, specified in the State Program of Education Development of Kazakhstan for 2011-2020 [8].

Better indicators of the international cooperation can be found in current techniques of high schools ranking used by Kazakhstan accrediting bodies, but still, they are also insufficient and do not contain indicators sufficient value achievement.

Assessment of international partnership involves not only the generalization of the factors affecting the formation of the competitive advantage of a higher education institution in a particular field. It is also necessary to make a competent, full and well-grounded choice of accepted and clear evaluation criteria of the factors that allow studying the entire cause-effect relationship process. An assessment mechanism is required that would ensure reliable, objective, regular, transparent and optimal results. The system of indicators must secure information needed for making effective management decisions.

To take into account dominant quality, little known elements of the international partnership it is advisable to use a system of indicators, which is strictly subordinated to the specifics of evaluating competitiveness in international partnerships and will be an information basis for monitoring and ranking, as well as identification and utilization of existing reserves to reinforce competitive the position of the university in the field of international cooperation.

Thus, for the assessment of the competitiveness we suggest using the following system of indicators, the application of which increases its analytical capabilities.

The peculiarity of this system is in having interconnected indicators , based on the criteria and standards used in the organization of the international educational activities worldwide and, which is most important, relevant and reflecting modern processes of education internationalization .

Moreover this system is characterized by the ability to adapt to certain conditions, which is especially important when it comes to differentiating from existing competitors.

The suggested system of estimation includes a set of key indicators of the most significant results of the international activities of the university, which form competitiveness of education services provided.

However, using only this system of indicators has the following drawbacks, as it implies:

1) Only internal evaluation based on the source of information for data collection.

2) Use mostly quantitative indicators.

3) Considering the opinion of only one member of the education market - the higher education institution.

Before determining the best approach to the assessment of the competitiveness of the university in the field of international partnerships, it is important to determine the parties interested in the assessment, and the purposes for which the assessment may be used. In our opinion, the results of this assessment may be interesting for the following parties:

- the Ministry of Education and Science, while considering the placement of state order, and funding of public university;

- the employers, while considering information about the institution in the process of staff selection and hiring;

- Students and their parents, when choosing a school;

- University, for analytical work and effective management decisions.

Therefore, an integrated approach to assessing the competitiveness of the international education services of the university is recommended which integrates the parameters of internal and external evaluation.

Speaking of competitiveness of educational services, including that in the field of international cooperation, it is imperative to consider the fact that it is largely determined by the assessment of the degree of customer satisfaction, which involves, primarily, the conformity of knowledge and skills of public and professional nature to the needs and expectations of the environment.

Thus, to evaluate the competitiveness of international cooperation it is appropriate to use a methodological approach that includes:

1) Consideration of internal and external evaluation.

2) Evaluation of both quantitative and qualitative indicators.

3) Involvement of participants of not only the education market, but also employers.

As a result of this methodological approach, the integrated value of the results can be obtained. The procedure of a comprehensive assessment of competitiveness in the sphere of international partnership involves:

1) Defining the purpose of evaluation. The purpose of evaluation is sustainable increase in the university’s competitiveness in the field of international partnership based on the study and analysis of the needs of the environment, processing the results and creating a plan of strategic and tactical activities. Higher education institution itself is a subject of assessment; it has access to the information, collects the information, analyses it and gets the results.

2) Planning the assessment procedure in the field of international partnership includes setting appropriate objectives, determining the sources of information, doers and terms of performance.

Among the required set of objectives the priorities are: identifying components, positive or negative influence on the subject of evaluation, identification of key resource reserves to increase competitiveness, development of the action plan.

The sources of information for the evaluation are both internal (documentation in accordance with the approved list of documents) and external (derived from the survey) data.

3) Collection and processing of information using all possible sources and validation of information, information processing and grouping by components (depending on the method of evaluation).

4) Analytical work, the calculation of the integral index of competitiveness and the analysis of the results.

5) Development of the recommendations based on the performed analysis: determining factors that contributed to these results, designing measures to improve competitiveness of international partnership and defining promising areas of the university activity to ensure its achievement.

As for the methods of assessment, they require having two necessary components:

- Quantitative internal evaluation in accordance with the system of balanced indicators we developed;

- High-quality external evaluation based on a customer survey.

There are the following priorities in the field of international partnership in higher education at the present stage of development of the educational system in Kazakhstan:

1) Implementation of public policies to promote international cooperation in the field of education, in accordance with the laws and other legal acts of the Republic of Kazakhstan, international (interstate, intergovernmental and interdepartmental) treaties in the field of education.

2) Development and implementation of comprehensive programs on improving international cooperation in the field of education.

3) Preparation of highly qualified personnel from among the most talented Kazakh youth in the best foreign universities.

4) Education and training of specialists for foreign countries from among foreign citizens and stateless persons.

5) Assistance in meeting the educational needs of young people from foreign Kazakh Diaspora.

6) Exchange of scientific-technical and scientific-pedagogical achievements.

Strategic objectives in the field of international cooperation between higher education institutions should include:

- Increasing the number of the existing international treaties, agreements, memoranda and partnerships, as well as improving their effectiveness;

- Achievement of international competitiveness of the results of educational and research activity;

- Increasing the competitiveness of the university at the regional, national and international education market;

- Attraction of funds to the university budget for the development of international activities and generation of income from international partnerships.

The above mentioned strategic goals lead to setting the following strategic objectives of higher education in the field of international partnerships:

- Promoting academic mobility of students and teachers in accordance with the principles of the Bologna Declaration and the establishment of a common European educational space;

- Expansion of cooperation with foreign universities and organizations in the traditional areas of partnership and the creation of new forms of cooperation;

- Use of the achievements of foreign scientific schools and international research and methodological expertise;

- Creation of international research groups and consortia to conduct collaborative research in basic and applied problems;

- Distribution of information on advances and capabilities of universities in the field of joint educational and research activities;

- Activization of export of educational services [9].

Obstacles to the development of international relations are:

1) Insufficient funding of international activities of the university.

2) Insufficient level of R & D facilities.

3) Lack of financial attractiveness of the university for foreign scholars.

4) Bureaucratic obstacles in the process of attracting foreign teachers for long-term periods.

5) Low level of teacher motivation to participate in the programs of international partnership.

6) Difference in domestic and foreign educational standards.

7) Language barrier.

Thus, implementation of the measures described above to promote international co-operation will contribute to the competitiveness of the university, to improving its image, both in the local and international markets of educational services, will increase attractiveness of the institution of higher learning for international educational and research institutions. They will increase its attractiveness to students from other countries, will promote the integration of the university into the international educational space, which is an indisputable priority for the university in the context of globalization.


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Table of contents: The Kazakh-American Free University Academic Journal №4 - 2012

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