The New Economic University has received excellent rankings. What factors lie behind its success?
Our long tradition of 52 years has contributed to the high-quality education we have cultivated. Our graduates hold top positions in the country in politics and in business. In fact, many schools in the country have developed in the fields of economics, finance, and other fields related to business. We strive to look at what is happening in the global field of education on a yearly basis and adopt the methodology that works to stay ahead of others. For example, we are now developing a platform for a new format of courses for distance education that will allow people in remote parts of Kazakhstan to study at our university, much more effectively than in the case of traditional e-learning platforms. We are also looking beyond our borders; in our strategy for the next three years we stated that the goal is to become the best and most innovative economic university in Central Asia. In every step that we take, we adjust our programs in dialogue with our business partners.
How would you describe New Economic University's relationship with the local business community?
We have 21 specializations; we do not teach theory and want to be as close to the market as possible. Every specialization that we have has to have at least two business partners to involve their opinion on the programs and courses we offer. Our business partners send their people to work with students and to offer master classes for students. We have examined the competencies that are needed in the market, such as working in teams, the ability to make decisions and solve problems, understanding clients' needs, and so on. We source problems from the business community that our students solve as diplomas, as opposed to writing a thesis based a theoretical topic they or their professors choose, and the client gives them feedback on their work. If the results are good, the company that worked with them often offers the student a position. This is innovation on a global scale because the majority of students still write diplomas that nobody reads.
What role will New Economic University play in the president's vision to build an economy based on innovation and knowledge, including integration into the global educational space?
Our vision is to become more and more innovative. We want to lead and show other universities what can be done in Kazakhstan. To match the needs of the local economy, we have established a business incubator that is the first private commercial business incubator in Kazakhstan and is open to all people from Kazakhstan and beyond. We already have people coming from Kyrgyzstan and Russia. The incubator's focus is making money, without relying on government funding. We invited the most successful network of entrepreneurs to develop this program. We are investing KZT20 million per year in the incubator.
As the university's new rector, what goals would you like to achieve in the medium term?
Our university is a leader in the fields of economics, finance, accounting, and statistics, and we set the standard for others. This is an opportunity to not only transform one university into an internationally recognized brand in Central Asia and beyond, but also an opportunity to transform the entire higher education system in Kazakhstan, or at least contribute to this transformation. It is rare to have the opportunity to get a job that can actually influence something of that scale. For any rector or any manager of a university, there is one major goal that matters. I want 100% of my students to be employed or have their own companies. I want them to have income that is well above the income of graduates of other universities.