Five o’clock Tea with Professor Abraham Atta Ogwu

 07 June 2019

The meeting of Professor with journalists was held in an unusual format – five o’clock tea, according to an English tradition. Five o’clock Tea or afternoon tea is nearly the most well-known English tradition which you recall when speaking about the country and its traditions.  Leisured talk is the indispensable attribute of the English tea party. During the tea time in a relaxed atmosphere, the journalists got to know a unique person and learned about why a professor with a world-known name chose exactly EKSTU for work and how internationalization issues were dealt with in the world and much more.

For three months now, Professor Abraham Atta Ogwu is performing duties of Vice Rector for Internationalization of the D. Serikbayev EKSTU.  This position is equivalent to “Vice President” in the American and “Deputy Vice Chancellor” in the British educational system. Professor Abraham Atta Ogwu is a citizen of Great Britain and has extensive experience in the international education system.

Professor Abraham Atta Ogwu is a member of the British Institute of Physics (FInstP); he was a member of the election commission of the Institute from 2007 to 2011. Professor Ogwu is also a member of the British Institute of Materials, Minerals and mining (FIMMM).

In 1998, he was invited by Professor Tom Coyle to work as a visiting scientist at the Department of Material Sciences and Engineering of the University of Toronto in Canada. Additionally, he was invited by Professor Hose Gracio to work as a visiting professor at the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Aveiro in Portugal from 2003 to 2004.

From 2002 to 2018, Professor Ogwu worked at the University of West of Scotland (former Paisley University), Paisley, Great Britain, as a professor of material sciences and engineering. He was a member of the Governing Council (governing body in Scotland) and the Committee on Strategy and Resources of the university from 2005 to 2008.

During the meeting, Professor Ogwu tried to give full answers to the journalists’ questions. So, what was discussed at the five o’clock tea?

Traditional question for a traditional English five o’clock tea:
What are your impressions about Ust-Kamenogorsk?

- I have a lot of impressions. To begin, this is my first visit to Kazakhstan, and accordingly, this is my first time in Ust-Kamenogorsk. I immediately noticed that Ust-Kamenogorsk is a structured, beautiful, and a cozy city with friendly people. Wherever I go, I get asked about who I am, where I am from, and what I am doing here. And when I say that I am from Scotland, everyone for some reason recalls Scotland Yard. But actually, Scotland Yard is in London (laughs).

I very much like national music and cuisine. I also noticed that people here leave for lunch and come back very precisely. Ust-Kamenogorsk is a city full of industry, and in this regard, the EKSTU is located very conveniently, to raise the economy and train personnel for Kazakhstan and other countries.

Professor on EKSTU students

- I am now learning Russian, and when I am in the EKSTU’s main building and attempt to speak in Russian, students start to actively communicate with me in English! As a result, we have a multilingual dialogue. Regarding the quality of education, educational standards of the EKSTU’s students is similar to those of European students. I see that the knowledge level is similar. I always get feedback from those who studied abroad and see their assessment. Our students successfully go to study in other countries including Germany, Japan, Hungary, and Russia. Our master’s and doctorate students successfully work in laboratories of universities in other countries. When I visited our laboratories for the first time, I met there a postdoctoral student from Minsk who was working on a special equipment at our laboratories, i.e. I want to say that our training is conducted according to world standards, and our students have a good foundation through which they are also successful abroad. To ensure that we are successfully integrated to the global system, we are integrating to the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System in the Bologna process.

On foreign lecturers and students

Our university is attractive for foreign lecturers and students as a center of excellence in the sphere of metallurgy and material science. For this year, we invited sixty three foreign lecturers that in different time of the year will teach various disciplines. These people will participate in research projects. We are now hosting Martin Strecker, an international professor from the University of Toulouse in France. Dr. Strecker is an expert in the field of computer science and artificial intelligence.  Besides lectures, he will hold two workshops during his stay at our university. His stay is being financed by the program of the Ministry of Education for invited foreign lecturers. When I asked him about our students, and he said that they were just as those in France. To the question whether he would stay if we gave him a permanent position, he said “yes”. 

As for foreign students – they are very important for us. After graduating from our university, they become the EKSTU ambassadors in the whole world. Why do they choose us? The quality of our education is comparable to those in Europe and costs less. Average tuition of a European university is 4-5 times higher than ours.

On the process of globalization in education

When I started working at the EKSTU, I realized that everything here was oriented towards internationalization. The university was already international and very popular within the CIS countries. Now the university is going up to the second step of internationalization, which is globalization. The main strategist and ideologist of this process is the Rector of the EKSTU Professor Zhassulan Shaimardanov. We have all the prerequisites for the EKSTU to appear on the educational world map: our students are trained to global standards and learn foreign languages. Without a doubt, the university has one of the best programs in metallurgy and material science with world class laboratories. We have strong educational programs in such directions as engineering, IT, and business. We cooperate closely with industrial enterprises of the region. Professors from world class universities want to work with us. The university projects are being conducted jointly with foreign companies. For example, we now have an interesting project with France – developing lithium batteries. Our Rector visited a company in Grenoble which produces such batteries. You know that we obtain lithium as an accompanying element, i.e. it is stored as unusable. And this is exactly the project where it is used for production of batteries. Lithium batteries are used everywhere, including cars and planes. The language of science is one in the entire world. The EKSTU speaks this language perfectly.

Press Service of D. Serikbayev EKSTU