TBY talks to Damir Shynybekov, Rector of International IT University, on the history of the university and its student body, as well as the institution’s relationship with other schools around the globe.
TBY How did International IT University (IITU) come into existence?
DAMIR SHYNYBEKOV It opened on the initiative of President Nazarbayev in April 2009, and IITU has already been widely recognized as a successful breakthrough university. It has been called upon to boost the industrial innovative development of Kazakhstan. IITU has established extensive links with educational and commercial leaders of the world, such as its main partner iCarnegie, a structural unit of Carnegie Mellon. IITU is actively implementing numerous projects with Malaysian IT universities, including the University of Kuala Lumpur, University Tenaga Nasional, as well as the London Academy of Management and Business, Riga Technical University (RTU), ITM-St. Petersburg, and other universities around the world. Top-ranking IT companies such as Microsoft, Cisco, Huawei, and IBM have all opened laboratories at IITU.
What is the background and scope of IITU’s collaboration with Latvia’s RTU?
In May 2012 members from RTU’s administration made a friendly visit to IITU. RTU is a very large and important university, which has two Nobel laureates among its graduates. With its ample educational experience in electronics and computer technologies, this EU partner raises the international profile of our university. Our Latvian colleagues have extensive experience in the field of radio electronics and robotics, particularly in robot-sumo and underwater robots under development for NATO orders. In the framework of our cooperation, RTU will train our specialists in Master’s and PhD programs under our exchange programs. We are also planning to do joint research. There is also a preliminary agreement about an IITU faculty member visit to RTU in Latvia in January 2013. Our partnership envisages offering joint training courses that facilitate our students’ integration into the global professional community and therefore increase their global employment opportunities. In fact, organizing courses from leading vendors is a very important part of the learning process for us. Such courses are not only of practical, but also of methodological value.
How do you see IITU’s competitive advantage vis-à-vis other private higher education institutions?
The main competitive advantage of IITU is that it is an industry-oriented university, which is the reason why the state provides substantial support to us largely in the form of grants. In the first year we received 300 grants, and now we have 312 grants in addition to 30 grants for the Master’s program. The government supports us by allocating state orders; for example, we are now engaged in creating an e-government system. We are striving to train highly qualified IT specialists that meet international standards. An important facet of such support is our cooperation with state holding Zerde.
How does IITU seek to bring innovation to Kazakhstan’s IT industry?
As a young university we are meant to develop new IT technologies. In the second and third year, IITU students create their own innovative IT projects. For example, 12 IITU student projects were presented in Astana at the recent “Innovative Kazakhstan: A Look Into the Future After 20 Years of Independence” forum.
How do you see the state’s role in economic development?
The role of the state is very important for national economic development. For example, look at Malaysia and Singapore, which set a suitable example for us not only because we have a similar mentality, but also because they are the leading economies of Asia where the role of the state has always been very important.
What are some highlights from your future plans?
We plan to develop three-stage education and introduce undergraduate, graduate, and doctorate programs; open three faculties in software engineering, information systems, and computer science; create a university college; expand our digital library; offer e-teaching and e-learning opportunities; and establish a special e-learning portal and new research laboratory, in particular for Open-Source 3D graphics.
In which sectors do you see growth potential?
Compared with developed countries, our market is still emerging, but the IT market may potentially grow two fold in a matter of years. Telecommunications, satellite communications, the oil and gas industry, and the public sector are growing at an impressively fast pace, showing our immense untapped potential.
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