TBY talks to Adalat J. Muradov, Rector of the Azerbaijan State University of Economics (UNEC), on the international aspect of the university and attracting the right faculty staff.

Adalat J. Muradov
Adalat J. Muradov graduated from the Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv, where he received his PhD in 1993. In 1999 he was appointed as a Professor at the Academy of Public Administration under the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan. He is the author of textbooks, monographs, education programs, and scientific articles. In 2002 he began working at the Ministry of Economy and Industry of the Republic of Azerbaijan, where he held senior positions. He supervised issues of macroeconomic analysis and forecasting, foreign trade policy, and WTO, and he headed the Department of Economic Policy, Analysis and Forecasting from 2009 to 2014. He is also an advisor to the public service.

What are the current main strategic targets of UNEC?

Modern universities have three main functions: to prepare educated graduates to satisfy labor market demands, to carry out research oriented to solve the problems of society and to gain new knowledge, and to build up efficient university-economy cooperation, hence contributing to economic development. Currently, UNEC's main strategic target is to become a truly modern and world-class university, which can fulfill the aforementioned functions.

English language programs are expanding quickly along with demand. How is UNEC approaching this?

English has become a global language. English is also the common language of business in the world economy. Our approach to this matter is that all students studying at UNEC must learn English to a high level. We also do a lot of work in terms of English language specialization. For this purpose, we have established a new school at UNEC called the International School of Economics. This school boosts both English-language capacity and strengthens UNEC's global integration. We hope that the school will increase the flow of international students to UNEC and enhance its participation range in international programs. The same expectations lay on our English MBA programs, built up according to world standards. Today at UNEC, a joint bachelor's degree program is realized with the University of London/London School of Economics in English and, this year, we have started a dual diploma program with Montpellier University.

What are you doing to strengthen your teaching staff?

For the past two years we have been recruiting young professional and experienced specialists with educational backgrounds in the US and Europe, as part of our Young Teacher project. We hope that this project will help us to bring on board at least 10 professors under the age of 40 within the next few years.

What are some of the international cooperation networks that connect UNEC with other universities across the world?

UNEC is enhancing its global research competitiveness through cooperation with international universities and research institutions as well as student exchange programs. The international relations of UNEC are visible in various areas. Currently, within direct cooperation agreements, UNEC cooperates with more than 100 universities from all over the world. We have recently signed bilateral agreements with 14 universities from 12 countries. Our bilateral cooperation and partnerships with foreign universities was established in two directions: student and staff mobility and the creation of joint education programs. If students pursue part of their education outside Azerbaijan, they can choose an exchange program with one of our partner universities. In parallel with that, UNEC encourages more staff to take advantage of education within international cross regional capacity building projects such as Erasmus+, and supports staff trainings abroad. Within the Mevlana Exchange Program funded by the Turkish government, UNEC cooperates with 36 universities.

What are some of the ways UNEC works to compete with the quality of education offered by Western universities?

For the last two years UNEC has taken first place in the Webometrics ranking of world universities among Azerbaijani higher education institutions evaluated for their presence on the web. This is an important step toward becoming international. In fact, we are the first ISO-certified Azerbaijani public university. 2016 has been declared the Year of Quality at UNEC and we are working on improving quality standards.

What plans does UNEC have for the coming year?

In the field of internationalization, we will expand our relations with leading universities. Our first goal is to complete integration into the European Higher Education system to meet the demands of the Bologna process. Our second goal is to modernize the curricula, teaching materials, and subjects. In accordance with labor market demands, we are going to continue to find new opportunities with companies for internships and training for our students. Our strategic plan includes the application of scientific and technological achievements and the introduction of advanced systems for university management. We plan to expand our research activities to strengthen the position of UNEC in the international rankings.