Tuition of the East Kazakhstan tuition is four-five times lower than in Europe. And this benefits everyone
How a foreign professor can help to develop Kazakhstan’s economy and why do foreign students come to study in Ust-Kamenogrosk? Professor Abraham Atta Ogwu, who has already been fulfilling responsibilities of Vice Rector for Internationalization of the D. Serikbayev EKSTU for three months, answered these and other questions from “Kursiv”.
– You have an extensive experience of working in the international education system. What attracted you in the East Kazakhstan State Technical University?
– I studied in the University of Manchester, which is one of the best universities in the world in the field of metallurgy and material science. This is my specialization. East Kazakhstan is a center of nonferrous metallurgy, and the EKSTU plays a key role in preparing human resources for this field. When I came here, I saw that this was a very progressive university in terms of equipment and technologies. This is a place of modern laboratories of the international level, and research projects are being developed that are in demand and relevant in the world. And this means that there is a room for development.
– Professors from Scotland and England worked here before you and they were tasked with the university development strategy in terms of competitiveness. What task is facing you?
– I am tasked with internationalization of this university, i.e. attracting foreign professors to work, recruitment of foreign students to study, and search for investment funds for realization of joint projects. For that, the university has all the necessary conditions and potential. In this regard, it is very important to get an objective external evaluation or, so to speak, a view from the prism of foreign colleagues.
– Does the university in Kazakhstan have advantages in comparison with European universities?
– Of course. It is the geographical location. The university is located on the junction of Europe and Asia – and this is an enormous advantage in attracting students, to say the least. In terms of culture, language, and other points, it is quite comfortable to live and study here for students both from Europe and Asia. And this is an opportunity not only for the university, but for Kazakhstan to become more competitive. And it must be used.
– What is your evaluation of the educational programs and preparation of students and faculty?
– The educational standards are similar to the European standards, and this is proven by the fact that local students continue studying in foreign universities, ex. they go to Japan, China, Europe, USA, and worthily represent there the university, and students from Europe and Asia come here. When I visited a local laboratory for the first time, I met a student from Minsk. I know that students from Germany intend to come here to study metallurgy. I can say full confidence that many professors are ready to work here, and currently, there are negotiations underway.
– The benefit for the university from foreign students studying here is clear, but why do students, say, from Europe, come here?
– It is the advantageous location of the university. I have already mentioned that East Kazakhstan is a metallurgical center. Studying here is an opportunity to receive an enormous experience in this field, additionally, this is a place of laboratories with modern equipment, and projects of international significance are being developed in the field of renewable energy and metallurgy. I would also add as “plusses” climatic qualities of the region, whereby experiments and tests could be held in natural conditions – cold winters, deserts, and high lands. Everything is here – and that is a big advantage. One very important moment is tuition fee. Here it is four-five times lower than in universities in Europe. And this is beneficial for everyone. Eventually the university will gradually increase tuition and in this regard, will reach foreign universities. To achieve this, it is necessary to internationalize – attract students and faculty from abroad. Here, everything is interconnected.
– What is your opinion about the place of preparation of HR resources in this system?
– It is very organic. Europeans know how to look far into perspective. First of all, this concerns receiving education and preparing qualified human resources. Many state programs are directed to this purpose. It is investment in human resources. This is how industrialization is underway in Singapore and in the whole world.
– Turns out, this is realization of some sort of a joint strategy, the result of which is interesting for both public and private sector. The final result is developed economy, and this benefits everyone.
– Exactly. Government funding and funding of industrial enterprises can and must work together. Companies want to engage only where qualified resources are being. Besides, no entrepreneur wants to spend money on retraining of personnel. And that is why it is necessary to train human resources targeting international requirements right from the start. If the country has oil but lacks trained specialists who know how to make gas, then there is little use out of oil. Human resources who know how to use modern technology can find a job somewhere else. As a result of this approach, 20% of students become, so to say, global.
– If to think in such global terms, the role of different funds that direct money to youth education, without consideration to geographical factors, becomes clear.
– Here the government position is also important. Ten years ago I worked as rector of a university in Rwanda. During the genocide, entire intelligentsia was destroyed. There were no teachers – no one taught students. In that time, the President of Rwanda did a lot to invite as many professors from abroad as possible – including United Kingdom and Korea. Then a lot of funding was directed from international funds – UN, World Bank, JICA, Japan - $5 mln was spent towards such purposes as well, as for example, on building an innovative library.
– What is your opinion on such situation in Kazakhstan?
– As far as I know, the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Kazakhstan finances educational programs well. For example, from this source, funds are allocated to invite four professors to work at the EKSTU.
– Students from which countries come to study in our university most often?
– The majority is, of course, from the Central Asia and CIS. We hope that this year, we for the first time accept 10 female students from Afghanistan. The European Union pays for their tuition in the framework of the gender policy. There are ethnic Kazakhs from Mongolia and China.
–How active are local companies in the education process?
– In the last several years, industrial enterprises have been purposefully preparing specialists here, paying for their tuition. Currently we have about one hundred of such students. Recently representatives of one major enterprise came here to take measurements of an auditorium for equipment installation. We are waiting a response from Russia, a mining company from Rubtsovsk is interested in the university opportunities. Currently they are preparing personnel in Yekaterinburg, and it is far and expensive.
– In your opinion, which projects being developed at EKSTU will be in demand around the world?
– An interesting project in the area of developing lithium batteries is being realized together with French scientists. Alternative energy sources have future, it is now relevant. I would advise students to learn languages and computer technologies, especially in their field. We need to remember that the language of science is the same all over the world.