22 SES 14, The Impact Of Study-Abroad Programmes On Students' Academic Achievements And Employability In Eurasia: The Case Of Kazakhstan
Over the course of the last 20 years the five Central Asia Republics – Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan – have faced common challenges originated from the same, previously highly standardized and state-controlled education system. Each of these countries has come up with different development strategies. This created a naturally occurring experiment that allows for an examination of the efficacy of differing policies and implementation strategies (Chapman et al., 2005, p.515). Drawing on international immigration theories (Enders 2004, Knight 2004, Kondakci 2011), the papers discussed in this symposium present the research findings of a one-year study 'Internationalisation and Education Reform in Kazakhstan' which has been conducted by the Centre for Educational Policy, Nazarbayev University in partnership with the Graduate School of Education, University of Pennsylvania. The main goal of the study was to investigate the impact of the academic mobility of outbound students on their academic achievements and employability upon their return to the home country. The study involves data collected during two field trips to Astana in April and September 2012. The fieldwork led to 24 interviews with the students, faculty, administrators and employers. As secondary sources of data, the research uses official documents reflecting the role of internationalisation of higher education in Kazakhstan (the Conception of Academic Mobility 2011, Strategy of Academic Mobility in Kazakhstan for 2012-2020). Also, the study presents the analysis of the performance indicators of the internationalisation of higher education set by the Kazakshstani government for the period of 2012-2020 and draws on the data of the comparative analysis of the study-abroad programmes initiated on the national level in the countries of Eurasia including Azerbaijan, Russia and Kazakhstan. The first paper discusses the role of international scholarship programmes focusing on outgoing students as the key contributors to the social and national identity development and economic growth. The second paper discusses the role of the academic mobility programme of Erasmus Mundus, (the European Commission) in internationalising the higher education sector in Central Asia. The paper takes a form of the case study of the Eurasian National University and elicits students and faculty's attitudes towards Euro-centric approaches to academic mobility development. The third paper presents the employers' attitudes towards the Kazakhstani students who studied abroad and returned home to contribute to the economic growth of the nation. The papers of the symposium attend to the question of internationalization of higher education on the national, institutional and cross-sectional levels. The papers consider the benefits of the study-abroad experiences for the students' employability perspectives. In the regional context of Eurasia, the rationales for internationalizing higher education are at the same time social, political, economic and academic, as these rationales for driving internationalization are not mutually exclusive and indeed cross-cutting (Knight, 2004). In the case of Kazakhstan and other countries of the former Soviet Union, the rationales are based on the idea of nation-building, national identity of citizens, knowledge production, economic growth and competitiveness, international recognition of academic institutions.
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