VIII Annual Eurasian Higher Education Leaders’ Forum at Nazarbayev University

Today the VIII Eurasian Higher Education Leaders’ Forum opened in Nazarbayev University. This year, the organizers have prepared interesting sessions, discussions, and seminars related to the main topic of the forum “Future Ready Graduates”. About 300 delegates from 12 countries participated in the Forum. Gulshara Abdykalikova, Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of Kazakhstan, and Shigeo Katsu, President of Nazarbayev University, delivered welcoming speeches to the Forum participants.

 At the plenary sessions, participants discussed the readiness of higher education institutions to prepare students for the changing nature of the work environment and their capacity to develop future leaders and good citizens. Today institutions face numerous challenges such as how to maximize the value they bring to students, how to successfully internationalize learning experiences, how to provide opportunities to participate in research and encourage lifelong learning, and how to create a strong portfolio of trusted partnerships with leading industry players. Discussions and interviews with Forum speakers are organized as part of the event.

“Today, we live in a changing, unpredictable, complex and ambiguous world. We live in the era of digital progress, development of computer technologies, artificial intelligence, big data. In an era when artificial intelligence systems, on the one hand, replace human resources, but on the other hand, create needs for new professions. The world is changing, so it is important for us, the universities, to identify answers to the question posed by the theme of the Forum in order to improve the services we provide to students as our clients,” said the President of Nazarbayev University Shigeo Katsu.

Charles Zukoski, Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs at the University of New York at Buffalo, noted the rapid development of digital technologies: “When we speak about younger generation, we should keep in mind that these young people were figuratively born with mobile phones in their hands. We live in an era of digitalization, where collaboration and interaction between cultures and communities occur quickly and rapidly”. 

The speaker of the Forum, Director of BCG Kazakhstan Leyla Abdymunova noted the attractiveness of remote professions and freelancing among young professionals. She also added that a great challenge for educational institutions is the ability to anticipate and prepare staff for future professions, which do not yet even exist.

Provost of Nazarbayev University, Dr. Ilesanmi Adesida emphasized that today Kazakhstan is implementing a reform to introduce the principles of academic freedom and integrity in universities. “I would like to draw attention to the important role of effective cooperation between the state in terms of financing, industry in terms of professional component and universities in terms of academic component. These are mutually influencing components. For example, we are now training students in artificial intelligence technologies. Coming to industrial enterprises, students not only gain practical skills but can also contribute to the production processes in these companies,” said Dr. Adesida.

 On the first day of the Forum, the Graduate School of Education hosted a presentation of books by international and Kazakhstani authors on key issues of higher education. Among them are “Education System Reform and Internationalization: Case Study of School Reform in Kazakhstan” edited by David Bridges (2014); “Higher Education Reform and Development: Case Study of Kazakhstan” edited by Matt Hartley and Alan Ruby (2017); “Sustainability of Universities in Respect of the Model of Financing Higher Education System in the Republic of Kazakhstan in the Period of Transition” (2019) by the authors Ali Mhammed, Rita Kas, Aida Sagintaeva, Hans Vosenstein.

 In addition, today within the framework of the Forum Nazarbayev University Library opened the VIII annual international conference for librarians “Modern global trends in the development of the university library” on “Services and resources of university libraries for science and innovation”. Annually the Nazarbayev University Library holds the conference jointly with the Scientific Library of the Eurasian National University named after L.N. Gumilyov and the Association of University Libraries of Kazakhstan. This year more than 120 people from 15 countries of the world, including China, Germany, India, the Netherlands, the Philippines, Poland, Russia, Turkey, the USA, etc. take part in it.