EUA outlines path towards greater autonomy for Kazakh universities

17 January 2019

EUA mobilised its expertise in university governance and autonomy to assist Kazakh universities in assessing their current regulatory framework and in pointing to opportunities to enhance autonomy in the sector.

In the framework of the EU-supported project “Transition to university autonomy in Kazakhstan” (TRUNAK), EUA carried out an analysis of the state of play in the country, based on the Autonomy Scorecard. The assessment per dimension of autonomy (distinguishing organisational, financial, staffing and academic matters) allowed the identification of shortcomings as well as opportunities for improving the governance of the university sector. The findings are summarised in a publicly accessible report.

EUA presented the analysis and recommendations at the International Conference “Transition to University Autonomy in Kazakhstan: Challenges and Perspectives” on 20-21 November 2018. The event was held at Karaganda State Medical University, Erasmus+ National office in Kazakhstan with the support of the Ministry of Healthcare and the Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Kazakhstan. A wide array of policy makers and higher education stakeholders gathered together to discuss pressing challenges in the context of legal reforms intending to improve university autonomy, and which will need to be implemented in the course of 2019.

EUA’s analysis highlights that the higher education sector in Kazakhstan remains insufficiently funded and critically over-regulated; reform processes maintain a top-down profile, limiting proactive strategic approaches from universities to exploit available opportunities. The Association recommends investing in the development of a strategic policy dialogue, design a coherent policy frame for reform, streamline and simplify rules, consider the balance between autonomy and accountability and finally pay due attention to the implementation phase of the reforms. A detailed assessment, analysis of challenges and opportunities for reform, as well as a complete list of recommendations, can be found in the summary report.

The TRUNAK project was also featured at the 2018 annual HERE conference, which gathered together experts supporting the modernisation of higher education in countries neighbouring the EU. The inclusive approach to governance and autonomy - focused on strengthening capacities at both institutional and sector level - is a characteristic that EUA brought to the project, building on previous experience in other neighbouring countries (ATHENA project covering Armenia, Moldova and Ukraine). The 2018 annual SPHERE conference report will be made available soon.

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