Статьи журнала "Современное образование"

Kazakh-German University is pushing the boundaries. The future lies in innovation, quality and research

Today, the internationalization of education is the trend of higher education in Kazakhstan, and Kazakh-German University (DKU – Deutsch-Kasachische Universität) in Almaty City is a pioneer in this respect - the university has been internationally-oriented since the moment of its establishment in 1999.
Later, when the governments of the Republic of Kazakhstan and the Federal Republic of Germany signed an agreement on the development of DKU, the university's activities took an official intergovernmental form.
DKU has been under the patronage of two states since that time and has gained a formed reputation as a university with quality knowledge. Few Bachelor’s and Master’s programs are aimed at practice-oriented training in modern professional fields that are attractive to young people, as well as taking into account sustainability and future technologies. The programmes are popular with those who desire to acquire quality European education in our country. Here, students' theoretical knowledge is backed up by intensive research work, internships and even an opportunity to launch their own entrepreneurial start-up. The university provides a system of financial grant support for the most talented students. A special competitive advantage of DKU is its dual-diploma programmes generated in cooperation with leading universities of Germany. The editorial staff of “Modern Education” magazine have scrutinised the university's activities to tell readers in detail what makes it so attractive to applicants with very serious ambitions.
From diplomacy to specific projects
In 1999, the establishment of this university in Almaty on the basis of international Kazakh-German ties became a landmark event in our country. Today, the international relations of universities have become a common occurrence– numerous international agreements between universities are signed, mutual academic exchanges take place, and branches of renowned foreign universities are opened. And at that time such large international educational projects were sporadic. Yet, Kazakhstan is not a participant of the Bologna process, and it will take more than 10 years before it officially joins it.
The initiator of the project on the establishment of the university was the public foundation “Kazakhstan-German education-related cooperation”. If nowadays international co-operation is primarily determined by practical goals, at that time the opening of the DKU was also intended to strengthen the development of bilateral relations between Kazakhstan and Germany. The location of the university in the historical centre of Almaty says about two buildings - one, where the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany used to be located before moving to the new capital, and the second - referred to the Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Kazakhstan. This advantageous position, first of all enabled the University to establish close partnerships with many German universities and companies, such as the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), and major employers, to become the nucleus of their ideas and projects in Kazakhstan and the whole Central Asian region. Following international experts’ approval, the Kazakh-German University has become the largest successful educational and scientific project in Central Asia. The University receives financial support from the German federal budget and is a cornerstone of German scientific and cultural policy in Central Asia as part of the European Union strategy.
The focus lies on achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals with particular emphasis on energy, water, environment, climate and the supply of raw materials for the global economy.
Another key topic of the DKU is the preservation of cultural identity in Central Asia and the realization of the Silk Road idea taking into account European and Kazakhstan’s interests regarding China.
“We want further development of the international network university format and expansion of our institutional network with German universities to at least 20 German partner universities. We see our objective in Central Asia as bringing together science, society and culture in connection with the education and research modelled on German universities for the benefit of society. We endeavour to inspire our students, tutors and researchers to contribute to the socio-economic prosperity and sustainability of Kazakhstan and Central Asia. We are committed to our bi-national heritage. We are an independent academic organisation based on a German-Kazakh intergovernmental agreement,” says Dr Wolrad Rommel, the President of Kazakh-German University.
The priority is high quality in everything
The agreement between the governments of the Federal Republic of Germany and the Republic of Kazakhstan was signed in 2008, it enshrined the countries' intentions to further co-operate on the development of the Kazakh-German University. It was ratified in 2010. And while DKU was intensely supported by both states, the university did not seek to grow massively and become a mass stamping conveyor belt of graduates.
DKU has always kept the club format of a small excellent European university in our country, raising really qualified experts, confidently covering not only Kazakhstan, but also the international labour market.
Only in recent years has the university administration begun to think about expanding the project. Thus, due to the acute need for engineers in Mangistau Region, the university together with Yessenov University established a joint institute in Aktau. Last autumn, the Kazakh-German University of Sustainable Engineering (KINI) was founded with the support of the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Science and Higher Education of the Republic of Kazakhstan. KINI is working closely with the German-Swedish company SVEVIND, which will build one of the world's largest green hydrogen plants in Mangystau, a critical energy source for achieving climate neutrality in the future.
“We know all our students by sight, observe their development, celebrate their successes and try to keep the programme on track. Although we adhere primarily to the principles of student-centred education, where the main thing, surely, is the students’ desire to learn, to achieve their goals, to become true professionals in their field. The quality of activity is the primary task of each and every person in our university,” says Asel Azhibayeva, the Principal of DKU. – The university development plans include expansion to a campus university in Almaty, creation of a technological campus in Aktau and Ust-Kamenogorsk together with local partner universities with statutory projection of obligations to ensure high quality of education in these cities’.
The University regularly enhances its performance level by going through internal and external procedures of quality assurance of system assessment, such as institutional accreditation and accreditation of all educational programmes by international accreditation agencies IAAR (Kazakhstan) and ACQUIN (Germany).
In consortium with German universities
The university established really close partnerships with many universities and organisations of Germany and major employers such as Siemens, BOSCH, Efes Kazakhstan, Red Crescent of Kazakhstan, Friedrich Ebert Foundation, Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, Carec, Ancor Central Asia, Atasu Logistics, Halyk Market, Arbuz.kz and others.
On 11 November 2019, a group of German universities signed a consortium agreement to actively support DKU. The consortium included the Free University of Berlin, Bochum University of Applied Sciences, HAW Hamburg, Rhein-Waal University of Applied Sciences, Schmalkalden University of Applied Sciences, University of Applied Sciences Wildau, Zittau/Görlitz University of Applied Sciences and Mittweide University of Applied Sciences. This agreement became a new stage in the development of Kazakh-German co-operation and in the development of DKU. New strategic partners from German universities have been added: Technical University of Berlin, Technical University of Darmstadt, Technical University of the Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Technical University of Freiberg Mining Academy and Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg.
Focus on trends and labor markets of the future
Heeding European and global trends,
the DKU management and team have focused their educational goals on a few of what they see as the major trends of the future: the energy transition, the provision of raw materials and mining, the development of agricultural systems, and issues of cultural identity and social fluctuations in society.
All educational programs of the university are designed taking into account these trends and the development of innovative technologies.
“Generally, the university's development strategy consists of interrelated transdisciplinary areas, each of which includes a goal and activities to achieve it,’ comments Dr Wolrad Rommel. – For example, the formation of the Kazakhstan-German Institute for Sustainable Engineering (KINI) in Aktau will make a notable contribution to the issues related to the development of green hydrogen at national and international level. The objective of securing raw materials and sustainable extraction of minerals will be achieved through the establishment of a research institute in Ust-Kamenogorsk, which will make a notable contribution to securing raw materials and developing a stable and modern mining industry in Kazakhstan. Agricultural goals are realised through the establishment of a DKU branch together with the Kazakh National Agrarian University and German partner universities. In addition, the main goals of the university's development strategy are to strengthen scientific activities and integrate research results into the educational process, as well as to co-operate with companies and public institutions to convey knowledge to society and the economy.”
The agreement between the governments of Germany and Kazakhstan on cooperation in the development of DKU consolidated its status of an international university and opened the possibility of performing educational programs according to German standards, taking into account the structure and rules of programs of Kazakhstan’s universities.
Today, the university prepares Bachelor’s Students with focus on:
– “Social Sciences”;
– “Business and Management”;
– “Information and communication technologies”;
– “Engineering”;
– “Transportation Services”.
They include 10 Bachelor's programs.
“Our Bachelor’s educational programs have very good indicators in the rating of National Chamber of Entrepreneurs “Atameken”. Thus, the educational programme ‘International Relations’ took the second place, ‘Transportation Logistics’ - the third. We are among the top ten educational programmes in Kazakhstan in terms of graduate employment and salary levels.
This academic year, in cooperation with Yessenov University, joint Bachelor's Degree programmes, which are also dual degree programmes, have been launched (with Technical University of Applied Sciences Wildau и University of Applied Sciences Hamburg). Several more new innovative Bachelor's Degree programmes are scheduled to open next year”, – says the Principal.
Foreign languages and support for talented students
DKU pays a great attention to the language training of students, for this purpose the Institute of Language Training and Certification has been formed. In the first and second years of study, the tuition is conducted in German and English for levels A2 to C1. By the end of the second year, students should achieve a B2 level of German. DAAD-funded summer language courses are organized for this purpose.
“Some applicants have the misconception that they need to know German when applying to us or that the language requirements are very high. The university educates in both German and English. Yes, a certain level of proficiency in one of the languages is required on entry, but we scrutinise a student's potential and refer them for additional training if necessary. This training can be held both at the preparatory stage and for the first and second courses” explains Maria Bachurka, Head of the Institute of Language Training and Certification.
The Institute of Language Training and Certification is a certified testing centre for the German language TestDaF (Test Deutsch als Fremdsprache) as well as TestAS in Kazakhstan. This enables DKU students to take the exam without travelling to Germany.
The TestDaF is recognised as a language certificate by all German universities regardless of the place and subject of study and is valid indefinitely. For DKU students there is a free preparatory course for the TestDaF exam, which is held three times a year.
DKU administers an academic policy aimed at supporting able and talented young people. Depending on the student's academic performance, DAAD and MFA of FRG scholarships of €2,500, €1,500 and €1,000 are available, as well as living expenses of €150 per month for Bachelor’s students and up to €500 per month for Master’s students.
International Master's Programs
Master's Degree programmes at DKU are conducted only in two directions: “Transportation Services” and “Business and Management”, they include six educational programmes. Master's programmes have a strong international component. All programmes are supported by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), which funds the teaching of visiting foreign lecturers. For example, Master's Programs “Integrated Water Resource Management”, “Strategic Management of Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency” are supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Republic of Germany (MFA), USAID, German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD).
“Since today large companies are looking for experts with a high level of theoretical and practical skills, after completing the Bachelor's Program I decided to continue my studies on the Master's Program. I was very happy with the evening study option, as I needed to be able to combine work and studies by eluding overlaps. Thanks to my good academic performance, as well as during my undergraduate studies, I received grant support from the German side during my Master's Program. I do the Master's programme focusing on “Finance” with a scientific and teacher training incline. Generally, the disciplines were a continuation of what was at the undergraduate level, but at a deeper academic and professional level. I would like to emphasize the experience of studying with German professors. In my opinion, this is the excellent knowledge that you can only acquire at DKU. The level of our tutors is also very high, with non-standard interesting approaches that motivate you to study", - shares Master's student Nurzhan Buketov.
Master's students actively participate in the university's sustainability activities such as Eco-Picnics, Student Research Competition, Renewable Energy Education Trip, Seminar for civil servants on key aspects of IWRM, Eco-Talk project, Aral Sea Summer School, Gender Aspects of Water Resources Management.
The last academic year saw the launch of a new dual degree Master's programme on «Industrial management – innovation & business expansion» together with the University of Applied Sciences Mittweida.
The programme is at the border between economics and engineering, and aims at training experts for industrial companies with the technological level of Germany.
“A special feature of the Master's programme ‘Industrial management - innovation & business expansion’ is an opportunity to do both a Bachelor's degree in economics and an engineering. The educational programme of studies reflect economics modules for those who have completed a Bachelor's degree in engineering and technical modules for economists, i.e. an interdisciplinary set of courses that include a spectrum of research and teaching. The first term of studies takes place at DKU, the second term at the University of Applied Sciences Mittweida. In the third term, students do internships at German companies or other EU countries, and in the fourth term they complete their thesis and defend their work before a joint committee from two universities," says the Head of the Master's programme, Professor, PhD Arsen Tleppaev.
The university is also planning to open new Master's programmes on “Green Finance” supported by GIZ, “Sustainable Mobility Management” together with Technische Universität Berlin, Technische Universität Darmstadt, “Public Management”.
The future of dual-diploma programs
As mentioned above, a particular competitive advantage of the university is its dual degree programmes. The well-rounded reader will say that today dual-diploma programmes are in almost every higher education institution of Kazakhstan. However, DKU programmes have a number of undeniable advantages. Above all, they are deeply developed and integrated with partner universities and major companies and employers of Germany. Professors from partner universities regularly conduct lectures at DKU and work on improving the curricula together with the faculties. In addition, support for the university's dual degree programmes has become one of the goals of DAAD's educational projects.
To date, DKU has signed agreements on dual degree education with the following German universities: University of Applied Sciences Mittweida, University of Applied Sciences Zittau/Görlitz, Schmalkalden University of Applied Sciences, Technical University of Applied Sciences Wildau, Hamburg University of Applied Sciences, University of Applied Sciences Rhine-Waal. Under these agreements, both parties recognize students' learning results and provide them with and opportunity to obtain Bachelor's Degrees in Germany and Kazakhstan.
“In total, the university has signed 55 agreements with foreign partner universities, 6 of which are currently closely involved in dual degree programmes and 11 in academic mobility programmes.
This programme gives students an opportunity to obtain two equivalent diplomas: a Kazakhstan’s diploma and a diploma from a partner university. Participation is free of charge for students who have passed the competitive selection. Students receive a scholarship during their studies at partner universities of Germany. When enrolling on a commercial basis, the tuition fee comprises 1.5 million tenge per year.
Graduates of the dual degree programme show an excellent level of theoretical knowledge and practical skills. Many of them continue their studies in the Master's Programme of a partner university,” says Asel Azhibayeva.
In addition to the dual-degree programme, DKU offers students additional study opportunities through financially supported or self-funded academic mobility. For example, the university participates in ERASMUS and DAAD scholarship programmes. These programmes provide scholarship support for the academic mobility of students, tutors and staff of the university. 118 DKU students have studied in universities of Germany, Hungary, Lithuania since 2019 up to present day within the framework of academic mobility.
It should be noted that many foreign students study at DKU: 207 people enrolled in DKU from Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Russia, Afghanistan, Turkey, 63 students from German universities.
The Kazakh-German University annually organizes an international summer university where students, Master’s and PhD students from Central Asian countries and Germany are invited.
Science and practice - focus on sustainability
The distinctive feature of DKU is the close intertwining of research activities and practice-oriented learning. Since its establishment, the University has been actively working on expanding fundamental and applied research within faculties in priority scientific areas, as well as on the basis of its scientific research institutes. Special attention in the scientific activity of DKU is paid to the issues and problems of sustainable development of Kazakhstan with a focus on the efficient use of natural resources, energy efficiency and development of renewable energy sources. This topic is the main focus of the scientific research at the Institute for Natural Resources and Sustainable Development, which was founded in 2015 on the initiative of Kazakh-German University with the support of the German Federal Government.
“The mission of the institute is to conduct basic and applied research on climate change, supply of water resources and management, and conservation of biodiversity. With the support of the Institute, two Master's Degree programmes were successfully introduced on the basis of our university: “Strategic Management of Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency” and “Integrated Water Resources Management”,’ says Serik Beymenbetov, Vice-President for Science and Innovation at DKU, PhD.
The effectiveness of the institute's work is also demonstrated by the fact that it has been able to attract more than five million euros of grant funding for research, various scientific events and scholarships for students.
In this term, DKU also actively co-operates with Sh.Yessenov Caspian University of Technologies and Engineering in Aktau,
on the basis of which, as already mentioned, the Kazakh-German University of Sustainable Engineering was opened. By 2026, one of the biggest European green hydrogen plant will be built here. In addition, the institute will prepare experts in the field of green energy. Along with it, solid steps are currently being taken to build a university-based Center for Thermodynamics. Its aim will be to develop practical recommendations for the introduction of standards for heat conservation in public buildings of our country, to conduct applied and experimental research in the field of heat conservation and transmission.
An important place in the scientific activity of the university is occupied by the issues of delivering the raw materials to the enterprises of the processing industry.
DKU has forged an excellent relationship with D. Serikbayev East Kazakhstan Technical University in Ust-Kamenogorsk, on the basis of which a joint mining research institute has been established.
Its aim in the future will be to carry out breakthrough research in the mining and processing industry and to insert German know-how in the production, processing and transportation of mining ore.
Another promising research area is agricultural systems, namely the development of supply networks for agricultural and other food commodities. In this regard, our university has started a successful co-operation with the Kazakh National Agrarian University.
The key place in the scientific life of the university is occupied by social sciences on the basis of the Faculty of World Politics. In this term, in particular, the university has been ranked among the leading universities of the country in providing quality research on security, nation-building, civil society, social movements and migration issues. The research papers of the faculty tutors of this department have been published in ranked international journals such as Central Asian Survey, Europe-Asia Studies, Central Asian Affairs, and others.
DKU itself publishes two scientific peer-reviewed electronic journals: “the Сentral Asian Journal of Water Research” (CAJWR) and “the Central Asian Journal of Sustainable Development and Climate Research” (CAJSCR). These are bilingual, open-access publications, the first focuses on water and environmental aspects in Central Asia and the Eurasian region as a whole, the second covers areas such as climate, energy, land and agriculture, sustainable logistics and others.
DKU also tries to create favourable conditions for students, young researchers and entrepreneurs to realise their entrepreneurial ambitions. For example, the International Green Business School “ECO-TALK” offers young entrepreneurs of Central Asia an opportunity to develop their eco-business from scratch or make their existing business more environmentally friendly. Mentoring is provided for young eco-entrepreneurs to “accelerate” a working business and present it favourably to investors.
We must confess to our readers that what is described in this article is only a small part of the information about the Kazakh-German University, which we would like to share. But even an impression can be easily formed from this about the work of the university, the scale of research, pragmatic approach to the formation of educational programmes, wide international relations of the university and, surely, great prospects for graduates. Yes, a high standard of quality requires a certain increased results from learners, but everyone determines their own priorities. It is fair to say: once you have gone through such a school, you will not want to live and work any other way. Today, DKU already is a recognisable network university in Central Asia and Germany, but the university continues its active development. DKU can be compared to a battery that over a long period of time has gathered energy, expertise, connections, outstanding faculty staff, strong management, in short, everything that may be essential in bringing a world-class research university-campus to the next stage. Let’s hope that the DKU is on the way to such a transformation. We wish the university success in this and assure our readers that we will continue our acquaintance with its most interesting aspects of activity.

25 жыл бұрын Алматы қаласында ашылған Қазақстан-Неміс университеті Қазақстандағы алғашқы халықаралық білім беру жобаларының бірі болды. Университет өз қызметін жетекші неміс жоғары оқу орындарымен және компанияларымен тығыз байланыста жүзеге асыра отырып, алған білімі мен ғылыми-зерттеу жұмысы дағдыларының жоғары деңгейін қамтамасыз етеді. Бүгінгі таңда DKU Қазақстан өңірлерінде қазақстандық әріптес университеттермен бірлесіп институттар ашып, Алматы, Ақтау және Өскеменде орталықтары бар кампустық университет құруға ұмтыла отырып, өзінің дамуының жаңа кезеңіне аяқ басты.
Magazine articles - Modern Education (Kazakhstan)
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