In the majority of countries around the world, governments recognise that all citizens have a right to education. In Kazakhstan higher education is obtained by citizens who have undertaken secondary, TVET or further education after secondary school.
The majority of universities in Kazakhstan are national, corporate, international or they have been assigned Autonomous Organisation of Education (AOE) status. They are separated into two distinct categories; private or public depending on the source of their funding.
Currently, there are 131 higher education establishments, with 10 being national, 32 public, 14 of which are non-civil, there is 18 corporate, 55 private, 1 AOE and 1 international university. The Ministry of Education are responsible for university regulation.
2010 marked the start of numerous changes to the higher education system when the Bologna Declaration was signed. At this time a three level framework was introduced focused on a credit system. Long term plans from 2011 through to 2020 were formulated. It was in 2012 that Kazakhstan formally adopted the National Qualifications Framework. A credit transfer system which is compatible with ECTS is used by most of the universities in the country. Credits correspond to 45 hours study spread out over a period of 15 weeks.
Under this new model, the first level of education that students can access is a Bachelor programme of study which is completed over a period of 4 years. Students can only complete the bachelors degree if they obtain 129 credits at least in theoretical elements of the course and then a further 6 credits focused on practical areas. 2 credits are assigned to the creation of a thesis and a single credit is awarded for passing the state examination in whatever speciality the student is studying for. The amount of credits required for each degree will vary with arts based subjects requiring anywhere between 160 to 180 while in more complex subject areas such as medicine, students need to obtain between 190 and 224 credits.
Kazakhstan is still an emerging destination for university study but its educational establishments are becoming increasingly recognised as some of the best places to study. Fees for university study range from $200 to $4000 a year depending on the university. If you study at the Nazarbayev university you won’t have to pay any fees because they are currently covered by the national budget. The majority of universities in the country offer students an increasing number of scholarships and loans particularly for high calibre students or those who are experiencing financial difficulty.
There have been a series of educational reforms at university level including:
Developing the quality of higher education through the creation of accreditations and developing partnerships in relation to educational programmes and research.
Strengthening the research capacity of key universities in an attempt to encourage skilled scientists and research institutes to teach at universities in the country
Increase autonomy in relation to the management of higher education institutions
Strengthening educational programmes and promoting collaboration between universities and employers
Creating educational courses which are based on professional standards
Further work on the National Qualification Framework
It is hoped that these changes will further enhance the quality of educational provision in Kazakhstan in the years to come.