Modernisation of higher education in Kyrgyzstan in the conditions of internationalization

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Section 5. Management

Section 5. Management

Adamkulova Chinara Usenbekovna, Professor of Kyrgyz National University E-mail: chadamkulova@gmail. com

Modernisation of higher education in Kyrgyzstan in the conditions of internationalization

Abstract: The article highlights the trends in the international educational area in the context of globalization, examines the impact of the internationalization on higher education, features of the processes of internationalization in higher education in Kyrgyzstan, the experience of Kyrgyz National University, identifies the problems and the prospects for the internationalization of education.

Keywords: educational environment, globalization, internationalization, higher education, credit system, student mobility, mobility of teachers, joint programs, double diplomas, the Bologna Declaration.

Today among the international tasks in the field of education much attention is paid to development of the high school in the conditions of globalization processes. And one of the major tasks to be solved from this perspective is the combination of international and national aspects in development of the university community. Statement of such problem it is not a mere coincidence. Since the Middle Ages universities were considered as the social and cultural phenomenon which purpose was the spread of knowledge out of borders of the territory. At the same time the majority of the higher educational institutions formed in 19 and 20 centuries carried out functions of formation of professional groups and local elite, and also development of science and equipment in the national environment.

New process of internationalization of the higher education begins with the second half of the twentieth century [3]. Higher education institutions are involved in the powerful movement of educational expansion and democratization of educational opportunities. Distribution of the higher education is considered as a guarantee of competitiveness of the state in new global economy.

Alongside with that, notwithstanding the fact that students in a lot of countries actively participate in movement for independance, development, modernization and democracy in their country, the majority of higher education institutions still are on governmental grant that causes their political dependence. Educational institutions work within the state policy and the existing system of the higher education, methods and order of their

regulation are adapted for national economy and culture of particular countries.

There is no international system of higher education in the world, even though a certain model — American, British or French — can be is used by other countries for creation of their own educational system. However today there are processes taking place, which have direct influence on education internationalization, such as globalization, decentralization and new techniques of international help.

Globalization in education reveals both positive, and negative tendencies [4]. On the one hand, it leads to growth of attention to quality where the last is understood as receiving good results at the international verifications. On the other hand, the state resources for education decrease, the inequality increases. Pressure upon education as a product, which has to be open for the external and market competition, amplifies. Increase in number of international and private educational institutions is the manifestation of this tendency.

Globalization brought to life activization and new types of international help that promotes on the one hand support and a development of education in the conditions of the decreasing or slowly growing resources, and on the other hand — puts many countries into dependence on technical assistance, subjects the countries to dictation of the donor organizations. Data of the tendency with all evidence can be observed in the system of higher education in Kyrgyzstan.

With development of the processes of globalization and internationalization of economy and business the

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Modernisation of higher education in Kyrgyzstan in the conditions of internationalization

higher education of the Kyrgyz Republic has faced a new task — training of the professional personnel, capable to work effectively in the fast-changing conditions of the global market. Moreover, higher educational institutions are now becoming market structures and behaving as units of the market.

For example, for the Kyrgyz National University (KNU), internationalization is connected with the solution of problems of increase of the competitiveness through updating of curricula and programs- with the growth of financial receipts through attraction of the donor help and foreign students on paid training- with the training of students in foreign partner higher education institutions- with the restructuring of the resources for their effective use- with the improvement of quality of education and researches through participation of students and teachers in the international process of knowledge exchange, etc.

Development of the international interuniversity cooperation allows us to organize joint research projects, exchange programs for students and teachers, special programs for foreign students.

And KNU is not an exception. The majority of higher education institutions of Kyrgyzstan are involved in the international activity, but this, as a rule, is the simplest level of internationalization, in the form of mobility of students and teachers.

At higher level internationalization of the higher education can be considered as a process of systematic integration of the international component into training, researches and public work of higher educational institutions. In this sense not many higher education institutions of our country (even taking into account large institutions) can be considered as in true sense international. Moreover, in separate higher education institutions, as well as in separate high school structures, the negative tendency of self-isolation, presented in the beautiful packing of national originality and national educational traditions, was outlined.

Now it is time of historical development of system of the higher education of our country when national isolation of higher education institutions more and more interferes with the consequences and prospects of internationalization and globalization. We can observe this conflict in various questions and problems: recognition of university diplomas, specializations and grades, development of the international forms of assessment of quality, issues of the international accreditation. To offer real steps on overcoming of this conflict, it is necessary to designate the main forms

and characteristics, problems and prospects of internationalization of the higher education. That is exactly what we are trying to do in KNU.

The most known form of internationalization of the higher education is the mobility of students — increase in number of students, who study abroad. Of course sending of students on training to other countries is not a new phenomenon, and it is used in Kyrgyzstan for a long while. Let us recall, how many citizens of Kyrgyzstan got education in the republics of the former Union and now study in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and other CIS countries.

Now, for example, KNU is trying to expand the opportunities in training of foreign students. We learn today not many foreign students, about 300 people from Turkey, China, Korea and other countries of the Central Asian region. So do many higher education institutions of Kyrgyzstan. On this wave in Kyrgyzstan there appeared a phenomenon of higher education institutions of double subordination. And it is not a mere coincidence that the biggest of such higher education institutions is the Kyrgyz-Russian (Slavonic) University. Our educational relations with Russia are as well a tribute to the general historical destiny.

Mobility of students of Kyrgyzstan, and students of the National University in particular, is stimulated with various state programs. We concluded bilateral and multilateral agreements with a lot of countries in this area. More than 15 years there is a program of exchange of students and teachers between the Kyrgyz National University and the Pierre Mendes-France University (Grenoble, France).

The international educational programs stimulate the exchange process. Most known to us programs are European. First there was «Erasmus Mundus» [1] (it started in 1987 with the purpose to promote creation of a common market in Europe), and then (since 1995) «Socrates». The Erasmus Mundus program and schemes of mobility associated with it, such as «Comet», «Ling-va», etc. set as the purpose creation of the European model of higher education. Thanks to these programs the student’s exchange is considered as a powerful tool of development of the all-European market of experts and skilled workers.

For more than five years the higher education institutions of Kyrgyzstan have had the opportunity to participate in Erasmus Mundus programs and more than 200 students from higher education institutions of Kyrgyzstan had opportunity to get an education at the leading European universities.

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Section 5. Management

Besides more or less organized schemes of student mobility, there is also a spontaneous movement of students out of programs.

This spontaneous mobility is the result of a number of factors: distinctions in access to education, quantitative restrictions in admission to certain specialties, difficulties with employment force young people to look for possibilities of education abroad. For example, economic and cultural reasons attract students to educational programs in Great Britain, France, the USA. Domination of English as basic language in modern science and as the most often learned foreign language, caused the fact that along with the USA and Great Britain the list of countries accepting the greatest number of foreign students included also Canada and Australia. These countries become more and more attractive for getting education for students in Kyrgyzstan.

The international mobility of students is not only the intercontinental, but also regional phenomenon. The process of integration of regional economies stimulates mobility of students, and in this regard such international agreements as NAFTA, ASEAN or APEC played a big role. Agreements within the CIS are of great importance for the Central Asian region and our country.

The fact that the flows of foreign students began to be perceived by the majority of host countries from the point of view of economic benefit is indicative, as in many cases foreign students pay for the complete course of their training. In many educational institutions accepting foreign students, especially in the English-speaking countries, the income gained due to full payment of training by foreign students is essential addition to annually reduced high school budgets. Without such additional income many higher education institutions simply could not exist.

I will make no secret that we at the KNU consider export of educational services as the favorable income item as well. For us the example of Australia was very indicative in this regard. There the policy of active marketing of high school programs and direct search and admission of foreign students was productive, at least, from the economic point of view.

Thus, the reason of growth of the number of students who are trained abroad is more market processes, but not state policy or issues of international assistance. The international market of educational services turns into promptly developing economy sector, which central elements are the international marketing of educational institutions and a purposeful admission of foreign students.

Not less significant characteristic of internationalization of the higher education is mobility of teaching staff. A lot of people consider it to be the second most important form of internationalization of the higher education. However, it isn’t so investigated, as the sphere of mobility of students. Traditionally international mobility of the academic teaching staff is connected with researches and scientific work. In the last decades the factor of visiting professorate spread (when universities invite prominent scientists for teaching of a course). In a number of regions and in certain fields of education, such as management and business administration, exist special schemes of regional and international training for young researchers and experts.

As well as in case of mobility of students, there are strong geographical distinctions in streams here. On the one hand there are countries with the high level of scientific immigration in this process as a result ofpurpose-ful attraction of the scientific staff for expansion of the higher education system (for example as it was in Hong Kong), and on the other hand — the countries with the low level of internationalization of the academic teaching staff. Such countries are generally the countries with the high level of national uniformity using only the native language in training, for which it is difficult to find the experts with the knowledge of foreign languages.

Until recently Kyrgyzstan was also one of such countries. However the situation promptly changes. Our teachers ofyoung generation quickly master foreign languages. Join in the international research projects. Only for the last five years more than hundred teachers ofthe KNU passed training in foreign higher education institutions.

Programs of student mobility hastened emergence of regional programs of mobility of teaching staff, such as the Fulbright program [2]. About 20 teachers from the USA worked in our university and as much our teachers visited America according to this program.

Programs of students and teaching staff mobility developed for the purpose of stimulation of internationalization of curricula, i. e. introductions of changes in curricula of the cooperating higher education institutions and faculties. I will tell frankly that developing students and teaching staff mobility, for example, at KNU, we strived to introduce the general international elements in curricula of the university. We can’t tell that the process of internationalization of curricula comes to us easily. These changes have met opposition of separate high school structures and teachers. However irreversibility of the processes of globalization forces even the opponents to become reformers.

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Modernisation of higher education in Kyrgyzstan in the conditions of internationalization

The strongest motivation of internationalization of the educational programs is strengthening of influence on the process of acquisition of professional education of the international professional associations. Rapid growth of international trade in professional services induces representatives of many professions to organize the activity at the international level, uniting in professional communities. These professional associations seriously undertook the solution of such issues as quality assurance, minimum standard requirements, criteria of professionalism, accreditation, etc. Representatives of the most different professions try to develop today the international standards that could result in bigger coherence of curricula and criteria of quality. Often similar professional standards are realized by the international organizations.

For example, the European Union considers questions of the standard minimum requirements to education, in connection with mobility of labor. Agreements on free trade, for example, in NAFTA and ASEAN, contain regulations on mutual recognition of procedures of licensing and certification of professional services. At a recent meeting in Tajikistan several CIS countries, in particular Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, agreed about mutually recognition of academic degrees and ranks. In connection with the developed agreements, many higher education institutions revise the curricula.

Not less significant factor of internationalization of curricula is the aspiration of the higher education institutions located in the centers of the academic world to form independently the contingent of students in those countries, where there is a demand on their educational services. They try to combine admission of foreign students with extension of the offer of the educational services in the perspective markets, organizing foreign offices and branches, which are completely submitting to the main educational institution. This tendency shows shift in the course of internationalization from demand to the offer. If the country, in which the branch is located, legally recognizes the foreign diploma, students can be trained according to the program of foreign higher education institution from the very beginning and up to graduation.

The similar form of internationalization of curricula is especially characteristic for countries with transition economics. For example, it is striking roots in Kyrgyzstan more and more. Such phenomenon as the prompt growth of higher education institutions of double subordination has already been noted. At KNU we

open faculties conducting preparation on the combined programs of higher education institutions of the USA, France, Poland. Functioning of such faculties is considered by the most part of pedagogical public of KNU as the catalyst of integration of processes of entry into world educational space. But there are also opinions that existence of such faculties is direct intervention in the national system of higher education and national policy. And nevertheless, we will continue to work in the direction of conclusion of contracts on cooperation, which concern various aspects of teaching and training, because there is a great experience of work within mutual agreements on the exchange of students and/or teachers.

In particular cases, these connections develop into consortia and high school networks. As a rule, similar associations of educational institutions have very limited rights. They are considered rather as voluntary associations of higher education institutions for carrying out specific educational projects. But the work on coordination of requirements and educational standards that is carried out by participants of consortia and high school networks, undoubtedly, promotes advance of the idea of internationalization of the higher education. There are various versions of interuniversity agreements: franchize, twin programs, mutual recognition of programs.

Some supporters of the international education consider above-mentioned options of internationalization as stages of the solution of more complex challenge of harmonization and international integration of national systems of higher education.

Sorbonne and the subsequent Bologna Declarations became important confirmation of this tendency. They were very attractive to educational community of Kyrgyzstan. Within several last years higher education institutions of Kyrgyzstan conduct active search of opportunities of entry into Bologna Process. In spite of the fact that it doesn’t create concrete practical obligations, its appeal is that the countries with various systems of national higher education strive to begin harmonization process. Higher education institutions of Kyrgyzstan including KNU, feel the urgent need for harmonization of their activity on the principles of the Bologna agreement.

Need of our transition to the European standards is dictated by a number of objective circumstances.

Firstly, strengthening of processes of globalization and interstate integration, activization of migratory mobility of youth. Bologna Process creates base to increase mobility of students and teachers repeatedly so

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Section 5. Management

that both had opportunity to change university and the country each semester if they please and finally to fit into the European labor market and the market of educational services.

Secondly, our entry into the European educational space is dictated by need of recognition of our educational programs and documents by other countries that is extremely important for our university and is the sphere of our direct interest.

It is easy to notice that both circumstances are interdependent.

In order that we could participate in the Bologna movement, take those advantages, which it gives, we need to introduce those principled stands, which are put forward in the Bologna Declaration, in university activity already today.

The two-level structure of the higher education was approved by the Resolution of the government of the Kyrgyz Republic as of August 23, 2011 No. 496 «On the establishment of two-level structure of higher education in the Kyrgyz Republic& quot-, also since September 1, 2012 introduction in educational process of the European Translation system and accumulation of the credits started.

The next stage of introduction of the principles of Bologna Process is activity in providing a quality assurance.

In our opinion, it is time for Kyrgyzstan to solve the problems connected with the education quality assurance. Without the adequate higher education and institutes of a quality assurance creating critical number of the qualified and educated people we won’t be able to guarantee a sustainable development, we won’t be able

to reduce the gap dividing us today from the developed countries. Globalization opens for us opportunities for the international education and creates conditions for the viable market. At the same time it conducts to the competition growth, emergence of danger from new providers of educational services (training companies, telecommunication companies offering remote programs, corporate universities) forces universities to develop new forms of the international cooperation. Many higher education institutions of Kyrgyzstan already try to unite and create the regional and international organizations, which are carrying out an assessment of quality and accreditation of educational programs and higher education institutions. So, for example, within the project Tempus «Creation of the Central Asian network of quality assurance of education» internal standards of quality assurance were developed, the group of experts on an external quality assurance was created, pilot external estimates of quality of educational programs in various higher education institutions of Kyrgyzstan are carried out now.

Each national higher education institution has the task to make the qualification degrees not only clear and acknowleged by students and employers in the country, but also attractive to foreign citizens and the organizations as export of education turned into exclusively favorable type of business. These objectives can be achieved only through purposeful actions for the internationalization of the higher education including mobility of students and teachers, internationalization of curricula and programs, creation of the international high school networks and conclusion of cooperation agreements, use of the international monitoring systems of quality.

References:

1. Eacea. Erasmus Mundus Program. EACEA. //[Electronic resource]. — Available from: http: //eacea. ec. europa. eu/erasmus_mundus/programme. php (14 May 2014)/

2. Cies. Fulbriht scholar programme. FULBRIGHT. //[Electronic resource]. — Available from: http: //www. cies. org (5 February 2015).

3. Oecd. Internationalisation and Trade in Higher Education: Opportunities and Challenges. — 2004. — Р. 227−240.

4. Shimko P. D. Management of processes of globalization of the higher education at the high school and regional levels. Reporter of INZHEKON. — Saint Petersburg State University of Engineering and Economics. Series: Economics. — 2008. — № 3 (22). — P. 337−340.

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