SIMPLE IDEAS BIG RESULTS

Kazakhstan 2018 | HEALTH & EDUCATION | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Darkhan Akhmed-Zaki, President of the University of International Business (UIB), on the philosophy of the university, keeping students employable, and objectives for the year ahead.

Darkhan Akhmed-Zaki
BIOGRAPHY
Darkhan Akhmed-Zaki is the author of 80 scientific works published in the leading scientific magazines in Kazakhstan and abroad. In 2002 he graduated in applied mathematics from Al-Farabi Kazakh National University. Over 2002-2006 he did postgraduate studies in mechanics and mathematics at the same institution. In 2010 he defended the doctoral thesis in mathematical modeling, numerical methods, and complexes of programs. From 2013-2016 he was the Vice Rector for Scientific Work at Al-Farabi Kazakh National University. He also has outstanding experience in scientific work as the leading specialist at the Mechanics and Mathematics Research Institute at Al-Farabi Kazakh National University. He is currently the President of UIB.

Can you tell us about the history of the university and the philosophy upon which it was conceived?

The basic idea of the university is to provide knowledge of business practices, thus creating new generational enterprises. In 1992 the government of Kazakhstan initiated a policy for the growth of labor markets. At the time there was an economic restructuring of the country and our university was created to establish businesses and help people be better prepared for this trend. Today, we are transferring this idea into the new generation, providing knowledge in the digital space, e-commerce, and so on. For people who want to start a business, they must understand the rules, the new business models, and more, and in the next five years our university will provide fresh recruits who can design or redesign businesses according to today's market demands. Our basic focus area is on the new generation of knowledge based on multi disciplines, such as finance plus management, ICT plus marketing, and more; that is the basic core of our educational programs. This program is helpful for our alumni and it also helps the research activities of our teaching staff. We work closely with a number of top companies in these fields, for example Alibaba, Yandex, and so on because collaborating with these companies is helpful in terms of case studies. In the future, our students will also have the opportunity to do an internship with these companies, thus enhancing their employability.

How active are you in ensuring that your students are employable?

The employability of our students currently is 73%; however, no university in the world can provide 100% employability of its students, because this is not the role of a university per se. We have a specific center that provides a special service for our students in our university. Every year we organize activities such as job fairs, internship placements, and the like. Our work with partners from the private sector consists of two components: we invite the staff of these companies to give lectures to our students, and we also design educational courses that cover the cases of those companies. As an ICT specialist, I know many people who work in this sector, so I invite them for sessions in fields such as e-commerce or digital marketing. We offer our students special digital-oriented educational discipline, which is helpful and attractive, while companies and enterprises help us provide these services and, crucially, a sense of direction about where the industry is heading.

Around 40-60 UIB students are sent annually to East Asia or European universities for programs. How important is this aspect for you and what is your strategy going forward?

Internationalization or international work is extremely important for our university; it is today's main activity. International business depends on the activity of the entire region, and Kazakhstan's location, between Asia and Europe, is our main strength. We want to work together with Asian, South Korean, Japanese, and Chinese universities, as well as those from Europe, Canada, and the US, to establish those links and have a better understanding of these markets for our students. Currently, we have a special strategic project from our ministry, which is an educational hub in Central Asia. We have a home program designed as a special educational program for Chinese or East Asian students. This is because if we can organize educational programs with international students, it becomes helpful to design special communities that are attractive to our Kazakhstani students, who mainly want to study abroad but may not have the means because it is expensive. Thus, our relations with companies and other universities in Asia, Europe, and even America are essential for us.

What are your key objectives and expectations for the year ahead?

Our university's strategy is close to the country's development plans. Recently, our president presented a new economic policy for the next five years, and we want to prepare our students to face these new challenges and help the country develop at a faster pace. If we can organize all our activities well, we can transfer the knowledge from China, Europe, and so on. We must access all this knowledge and apply it here in our country, and this is what we are aiming at for our students in the near future.