Статьи журнала "Современное образование"

Bolat Tlepov | Internalization of education in Abay University

The oldest university of the country, Abay Kazakh National Pedagogical University with its own rich experience of training personnel for education, never stops in its development, facing all modern challenges. And internationalisation of education is one of the inevitable and necessary directions in providing the country with high-level experts. Bolat TLEPOV, the Chairman of the Board and Principal of Abai University, talks about the university's international relations strategy.
– Abay KazNPU co-operates with many universities from all over the world, and the university has already gone far beyond just teacher training qualifications. What is the strategy for internationalisation of education in Abai University, future plans?

– The mission of internationalisation of the university is to contribute to this direction through the introduction of the international dimension in the scientific and educational process, export of educational services, creation of the image of the university as a centre of international scientific and educational activity in the global sectoral space.

The University annually strives to expand its geographical map of partnerships.
Our objective is to be the leader in teaching teachers in Central Asia, but we are not limited to this region only.
In addition to cooperation with higher education institutions, Abai KazNPU establishes links with various academic centres, participates in events dedicated to international rankings on a regular basis.

Internationalisation is carried out through certain settled aims: by increasing the number of partner universities; organising exchange programmes, language programmes, summer and winter schools for both students and tutors; seeking and developing new internships for faculty and staff; creating favourable conditions for foreign students; holding international education exhibitions, etc.
– According to the results of the Erasmus+ project “International Credit Mobility (ICM)”, grants were awarded to Abai University to study in 12 European universities. How is the mechanism of receiving such grants structured? What are the requirements for recipients?

– ERASMUS+ International Credit Mobility (E+ ICM) is a programme within the ERASMUS+ project that facilitates the exchange of students, tutors and non-academic staff with partner countries. That is, these grants are allocated not only for students, but also for faculty and staff of Abay KazNPU. The training will conducted between 2024 and 2027 in countries such as France, Spain, Italy, Romania, Turkey and others.

Every year Abay KazNPU participates in competitive bids, concludes agreements with partner universities, where the framework is written, within which academic mobility will take place. When funding is allocated, the Department of International Co-operation (DIC) announces a competition among students and/or tutors. In addition to that, both Bachelor’s and Master’s students, and in rare cases, doctoral students can participate.
To participate in the International Credit Mobility programme, an applicant must have a high academic performance (GPA) and excellent command of English, as the language of instruction is English, as well as an ability to write motivational letters.
Each host university has additional requirements, but the basic criteria are the conditions listed above.
– What else is required from students to participate in the Erasmus+ programme? Are there any difficulties with visa application, collection of documents?

– A student should be active, ambitious, be able to reveal himself/herself and show his/her best side, i.e. to show leadership qualities. Pro-active students have no problems with collecting documents, as it is the so-called standard package.

Erasmus+ provides visa support in document collection and preparation, but, unfortunately, it cannot accelerate the process. Therefore, you should not procrastinate in collecting the document, as there are cases when a student is late for his/her studies due to the long wait for the visa. It is true that the host universities are more sympathetic to such situations.
– Please, tell us about examples from the usage of experience of foreign universities in terms of teacher training.

– Abay KazNTTU tries to update, improve, develop its experience in teacher training both nationally and internationally. In order to achieve results, our teaching staff regularly participates in projects, winter and summer schools where they receive training from foreign colleagues.

The tools of internationalisation are the formation of the institute of tutors (mentors) for foreign students (like buddy programs); realization of “minor” programs; shifting from traditional learning modalities to innovative models, e.g. Honors College; and projects aimed at training teacher-researchers. Doctoral and Master’s students, participating in various international internships, have an opportunity to practise their acquired experience.
– Please, tell us about the internships of Abay KazNPU tutors in foreign universities. Is this process active and regular?

– Every year our tutors do internships in the USA, France, the UK, Poland, South Korea, Croatia, Russia, etc. Tutors of the Sorbonne-Kazakhstan Institute received professional development training at the University of Poitiers (France). Also, university lecturers travel to participate in workshops at Lomonosov Moscow State University (Russia) and internships as part of the project European Pedagogic Education Network (ETEN) “Pedagogical professionalism and internationalisation – a dialogue with educational space in post-Soviet Muslim countries” to the University of Nuremberg (Germany), for joint discussions on climate change within the framework of the project “Realization of the Sustainable Development Goals and retraining of geography teachers” to Okayama University (Japan), for participation in the International Professional Development Course “Creative Teaching Methods and Approaches” at Halic University (Turkey), for participation in Erasmus+ Staff Training Week at Vytautas Magnus University (Lithuania).

The teaching staff of the university attended a course organised by the Centre for Creativity “Golden Age” together with the International Institute “Iksad” (Georgia) for young researchers through grants to finance their scientific projects, discussed the results of scientific research work in the framework of the project “Investigations of Correctness of Boundary Value Problems for Non-Classical Equations of Mathematical Physics” at the Metropolitan College of Boston University (the USA), studied the experience of formal and informal research methods, systematisation of the world's best practices to enhance research activity of tutors based on Action Research at the University of Cambridge (the UK), participated in professional development and experience exchange courses within the Erasmus+ Staff Training Mobility programme at Pavel Josef Šafárik University (Slovakia).

Work to expand foreign internships will continue.
Tutors have an opportunity to go on internships at the expense of scientific projects of the inviting side or through scholarship programmes of the Bolashak project.
There are also other ways.
– 28 scientists of Abay KazNPU received grants for scientific internships in leading universities, research and production centres abroad within the framework of the “500 Scientists” project. How long will their training last and what specific results do you expect from it? What areas of expertise will be trained?

– If we take the 2023 results, 28 of our scientists became scholarship holders and received invitations to universities of the USA and European countries. A scientific internship can last from three months to a year. They are mostly accomplished scientists, research professors, experts in their fields. This programme gives them an opportunity to develop professionally, work in various laboratories, exchange experience with foreign colleagues, and improve language practice. In doing so, there is spiritual enrichment, which is also important.

Universities will run the following internships:

– University of Illinois (the USA);

– The George Washington University (the USA);

– University of California (the USA);

– University of Minnesota (the USA);

– University of Reading (Great Britain);

– Kazan Federal University (Russia);

– Akdeniz University (Turkey);

– Bremen University (Germany);

–Free University of Brussels “Université Libre de Bruxelles” (Belgium).

These universities are highly ranked in the QS World University Rankings.

We hope that on their return to Kazakhstan, our scientists and teachers will be able to realise their new knowledge and experience in Abay KazNPU and raise their professional level.
– Do tutors from other countries teach at the university?

– In 2023, the number of attracted foreign professors and scientists from European countries grew up to 32; 9 of them were funded by the MSHE of the RK. To attract foreign professors a programme is released annually through various grant and volunteer programmes. Involvement of foreign staff in the academic process of the university helps students to gain foreign knowledge without leaving the country, and teachers to exchange experience. Various initiatives of partner countries are also contributing significantly to the realization of the programme.
Thus, programmes of the Ministry of Science of South Korea and the Turkish and French embassies in the RK have been introduced, in the framework of which the sides send volunteer teachers to teach Korean, Turkish and French at our university for one academic year.
We also run an Erasmus+ academic staff programme, where EU lecturers come to teach lectures and seminars for one week.
– Your university is a member of the Union of Turkic Universities of the Turkic Council. What can you say about its work, how does the “Orhun” programme work?

– The Union of Turkic Universities was established for the purpose of co-operation in the field of higher education between the States- Turkic Council Members. Abay KazNPU became a member of this union and a participant of “the Orhun” exchange programme in early 2023.

“The Orhun” programme aims to promote the exchange of students and tutors between universities -TURKUNIB Union members. Bachelor's and Master's students of Abay KazNPU studied at Ege University in Izmir within the framework of this programme.
– You have a faculty of international relations. Is the competition big, and do all graduates find jobs according to their qualifications?

– The Sorbonne-Kazakhstan Institute includes three departments: “International Relations”, “International Law”, “Economics”.

In turn, the Department of International Relations presents the following educational programmes:

Bachelor’s Degree: “6B03101 – International Relations in the Globalised World” and “6B03119 - International Relations in the New World Order”.

Master’s Degree: “7M03114 – International Relations” with a double-diploma educational programme of “Global Challenges” in partnership with INALCO University (France) has been realized in this direction since 2014.

PhD: “8D03101 – International Relations”.

Enrolment to these programmes is based on the Unified National Testing and Comprehensive Testing.

The Ministry of Science and Higher Education of the RK allocated 80 grants for Bachelor’s Degree to the country’s universities on this educational programme in 2023. The maximum UNT score among the applicants to this programme was 137, the minimum score was 126. According to the approved rules of 2023 admission, Abay KazNPU, applicants with at least 75 scores were admitted to the fee-paying department. Foreign citizens were also admitted on an interview basis.

40 grants were allocated across the whole republic for the Master's Degree on the Educational Program “International Relations”. The maximum score among applicants was 126 and the minimum score was 101. Applicants with scores of at least 75 were admitted to the fee-paying department. Foreign citizens were also admitted on the basis of interview results.

Employment of graduates comprises: Bachelor's Degree - 95%; Master's Degree and PhD - 100%.
– The Sorbonne-Kazakhstan Institute marks its 10th anniversary this year since the moment of its foundation on the basis of Abay KazNPU. Tell us about its work. How has this project developed, how many graduates has it trained, how many students are studying now, in what qualifications?

– The Sorbonne-Kazakhstan Institute (SKI) was established on the initiative of the Kazakhstan’s side as a result of cooperation with Sorbonne Paris Cité University (Sorbonne Paris Cité), France.

The opening ceremony of this educational project, unique for Central Asia, took place on December 6, 2014 with the participation of the Presidents of Kazakhstan and France.

The main goal of the Institute's activity is to provide educational services of European quality level for Kazakhstan’s students and students of Central Asian countries. “European education itself comes to your house”- this is the slogan of the Sorbonne-Kazakhstan Institute.

The SKI works in accordance with Kazakh-French international programmes at three levels of education: Bachelor's, Master's and doctoral degrees. Professors from France teach most disciplines in French.
Graduates of the Institute speak several foreign languages and French at a level not lower than B2 in accordance with the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages.
Those Bachelor’s students who do not speak French can enter the university, but learning French is compulsory during their studies. From Term 2 of the second year, two French modules are added, each consisting of two disciplines. At the end of the studies, a national certificate of French programme with the received credits and grades are awarded to Bachelor's graduates. Professors from French partner universities are invited to teach these modules.

The ubiquitous study of French was launched for students of all educational programmes of the institute on September 1, 2018.

The SKI has a strong network with French partners (University of Lorraine, National Institute of Oriental Languages and Civilisations in Paris (INALCO), University of Poitiers, Aix-Marseille University). The Institute is also extending its co-operation with universities such as the University of Perpignan, the University of Lille, the University of Reims Champagne-Ardenne, the University of Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne, the University of Paris-Saclay, Paris XIII University, and Paris VII Denis Diderot University. All these partner institutions aim to form a consortium by 2025 to facilitate the exchange of best practices, harmonisation of existing regulations on joint educational programmes, and broad participation in the life and management of the SKI.

Students of the institute annually become grant holders of various scholarship programmes, academic mobility programmes (Abai-Vern, Erasmus+) and get an opportunity to study (1 Term or 1 year) in the leading universities of France, as well as undergo internships through the Agency of Francophone Universities, etc.
The Sorbonne-Kazakhstan Institute has prepared more than 1500 experts, 150 of them obtained Certificates of Higher Education from French partner universities since the moment of its establishment.
The SKI currently educates 625 students, including Bachelor’s Degree -597, Master's Degree- 27, PhD-1. The university accepted about 40 students in the first year, this indicator had grown up to 1500 students by 2018. The significant drop in the number of students is primarily due to the cessation of grant funding for dual-diploma educational programmes, as well as a significant increase tuition fee. In this regard, it is important (given the high enrolment rates for existing educational programmes in previous years) to resume grant funding for all dual-diploma programmes, including the pedagogical profile, planned with French partners.
– How will admission be handled this year? How many grants will be allocated? How much is a year of study at the Sorbonne-Kazakhstan Institute today on a commercial basis?

– Enrollment to SKI educational programmes is carried out in accordance with the current standard admission rules of the RK, according to the results of UNT for Bachelor's Degree, according to the results of CT for Master's Degree and according to the results of special comprehensive examinations for doctoral degrees. Tuition fees for SKI programmes in the 2023-2024 academic year: Bachelor's Degree - 933,121 tenge; Master's Degree - 1,539,912 tenge; Doctoral Degree - 2,166,659 tenge.

Questions asked by

Yaroslav Sagin

Bolat Tlepov, the Chairman of the Board – the Principal of Abai University, answers the editorial board's questions about internationalisation of education at the university. Students and tutors of the university have an opportunity to study by means of Erasmus+ international grants. University scientists actively participate in the “500 Scientists” project. The Faculty of International Relations is successfully operating. And the Sorbonne-Kazakhstan Institute, which runs dual-diploma programmes with the French side, is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year.
Председатель правления – ректор Abai University Болат Тлепов отвечает на вопросы редакции об интернационализации образования в вузе. Студенты и преподаватели университета имеют возможность обучаться по международным грантам Erasmus+. Ученые вуза активно участвуют в проекте «500 ученых». Успешно действует факультет международных отношений. А Институт Сорбонна-Казахстан, в котором ведутся двудипломные программы совместно с французской стороной, в этом году отмечает десятилетний юбилей.
Magazine articles - Modern Education (Kazakhstan)
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