Types—Public & Private: Until 1990, the only university in Kyrgyzstan was Kyrgyz State University in the capital, Bishkek. However, in regional centers around the country, a large number of institutes affiliated with Kyrgyz State University offered a wide range of subjects and degrees upon graduation. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, Kyrgyz State University still exists, but the former institutes have invariably been transformed by title and courses into universities. Thus, for example, the Osh Pedagogical Institute founded primarily for linguistic study in 1951 was renamed Osh State University in 1992 and offers programs in business. The major change within higher education since 1990 has been the need to charge admission or tuition fees, in part to offset diminishing government subsidies.
Admission Procedures: Admission commences in the summer preceding September entry. Most institutions require an application form with particulars of the student's secondary or vocational record. Institutions that specialize in English subjects or teach in English may require TOEFL tests. In July, universities offer entrance exams, which are derived by the universities, and grant or deny entry based on the results.
Administration: Institutions administer themselves, with oversight by the State, which grants a license that reads:
University: has the right to practice teaching activity in the sphere of high professional education with a variety of majors, levels of education, duration according to the attachment of this license and on terms of considering all the basic requirements of this document and limited contingent of students.
Enrollment: In 1995 there were 33 institutes of higher education in Kyrgyzstan serving 49,744 students. The most significant are Kyrgyz State University with 15 faculties and 7,300 students; the Kyrgyz-Slavonic University; the Kyrgyz Technical University with 7 schools; the Kyrgyz Humanities University with 3,873 students; the new Manas Kyrgyz-Turkish University with 750 students in 2000 (its third year of operation); and the Kyrgyz-American School with more than 1,000 students.
Teaching Styles & Techniques: The principal language of instruction in these institutions is Russian, but with the proliferation of higher education institutions in Kyrgyzstan, instructors use a wider variety of source material.
Finance (Tuition Costs): Typical tuition fees at private universities range from $1,500 for Kyrgyzstan nationals to $2,000 for foreign students, but fees for Kyrgyz State University and other public universities are significantly lower, about 5,000 to 10,000 soms (US$100 to US$200) per annum. Scholarships in the form of fee waivers are available at most institutions to deserving students. Only Manas Kyrgyz-Turkish University has no fee structure.
Courses, Semesters, & Diplomas: Higher education in Kyrgyzstan usually lasts five years; the two-semester system commences in September and ends in May with a one month winter recess. As was noted earlier, institutions generally select the courses they wish to offer, and students graduate with a "Diploma of (Specialization in the field of study)." Students can pursue a "Candidate of the Sciences" for a further three years, during which they usually write a thesis and finally may obtain a doctoral degree, which requires another thesis. This last tends to be synonymous with postgraduate training.
Professional Education: The only professional education in the republic is offered by western-owned businesses to train their workers and managers. Most of this training is done "in-house," but there have been instances of workers being sent out of the country for professional development. A part of the U.S. AID monies of the mid-1990s was dedicated to middle management training, particularly for lawyers and government officials who, after a month overseas, returned to Kyrgyzstan to participate in privatization and democratization.
Postgraduate Training: There is a long history in Kyrgyz institutes of post-graduate teaching, which was usually linked with the award of the doctorate. Of necessity, this training is highly specialized and is found in institutes established under the Soviet system to produce an intellectual elite.
Foreign Students: Very few foreign students study in Kyrgyzstan, due almost entirely to the deteriorating state of the country's educational system. Typical of the extent of foreign student enrollment was Kyrgyz Humanities University and Osh State University with 44 foreign students (or 1.1 percent of total student enrollment) and 200 foreign students (3.3 percent) respectively in 1998.
Students Abroad: Given the difficulty of transition and the uncertain future of the nation, an ability to speak a foreign language—particularly English—with the resultant opportunities to study abroad, has become a major goal for students in higher education. Unfortunately, once students complete their studies overseas, they are often reluctant to return to Kyrgyzstan to become part of the labor force. Essentially a brain drain is occurring, and although it is on a small scale, it is enough to warrant concern. In 2001 there were 126 Kyrgyz students in the United States and fewer in Europe, with the majority of these in the United Kingdom. The major deterrent for Kyrgyz students to studying abroad is the high cost of tuition and living expenses outside Kyrgyzstan; hence most students studying outside Kyrgyzstan are on some kind of scholarship. Those few students whose studies abroad are funded with Kyrgyz money are required to return to Kyrgyzstan for a minimum of two years; however, often upon graduation, these students remain outside Kyrgyzstan to work.
Role of Libraries: Libraries have a reduced role in higher education primarily because they lack current books, texts, and periodicals. Much of the literature published before 1990 is considered by students and faculty alike to be tainted and hence of little use.
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