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Kyrgyzstan|opinion & analysis|March 13, 2024 / 11:23 AM
Osh State University Rector Kudaiberdi Kojobekov: Transforming Universities for a Sustainable Future
Osh State University Rector Kudaiberdi Kojobekov

AKIPRESS.COM - The Osh State University is on the path of restructuring classical education. This is one of the country's oldest universities having serious educational, research and innovative potential.

Osh State University Rector Kudaiberdi Kojobekov shared his article on transformation of the university below:

The Need for Transformation

In today's rapidly changing world, characterized by increasing globalization, heightened international competition, and emerging risks and challenges, traditional universities are facing a decline in relevance. They appear to be falling behind in development and failing to meet the demands of the times. This situation necessitates the restructuring of the higher education system to align with current economic realities, emphasizing knowledge and innovation. Universities are now taking on more significant roles in national life, positioned as drivers of advanced knowledge and technology, essential for future innovation, job creation, sustainable development, and economic growth. This entails the transformation of traditional universities into national research universities of the 4.0 generation.

Place of Traditional Universities

We must acknowledge the rich educational, research, and practical experience of traditional higher education institutions. These universities have undergone a challenging journey of establishment, growth, and development to attain their current status. Alongside the country and its people, they have overcome challenges and strengthened over time. Osh State University, tracing its roots back to 1939 when it began as a teacher's institute, holds a rightful place in this narrative. Established as the Osh State Pedagogical Institute in 1951 and later transformed into a university in 1992, it has been a key source of personnel for 85 years. During the Soviet era, OSPI ranked among the top seven pedagogical universities in the USSR, producing thousands of educators. These traditions continue today as the university trains highly qualified specialists across various fields to meet regional, national, and even international needs. Recognized with the Order of “Dank” in 2017 for its contributions to the intellectual and spiritual development of Kyrgyzstan, Osh State University remains committed to its legacy in this anniversary year, with both faculty and students determined to uphold its esteemed history.

In today's rapidly evolving technological landscape, the role of traditional universities is undergoing significant scrutiny. While these institutions have been pivotal in shaping multidisciplinary education, the relentless pace of technological advancement demands a new approach to talent development. The digital economy and rapid technological progress necessitate universities to evolve beyond their traditional roles of education and research. They must now foster direct engagement with industry, driving innovation and commercialization of research projects. This shift is vital for universities to remain relevant in the modern economic landscape. While leading foreign universities have successfully adapted to these challenges, transformation processes in Kyrgyzstan are still in their nascent stages. Unlike European and Russian universities with centuries of experience in adaptation, Kyrgyzstan's higher education system is relatively new. However, recent initiatives by the Kyrgyz government, such as granting special status to select universities, including Osh State University, signal a commitment to transforming these institutions into national research universities. These measures aim to align Kyrgyz universities with global standards and foster innovation-driven development. Osh State University, recognizing the importance of this task, has embarked on a Strategic Development Program aimed at achieving national research university status by 2026. Leveraging its strong educational and technical infrastructure, the university is poised to lead the way in fostering innovation and driving sustainable development in the country.

One of the Three Best Universities in Eurasia

Osh State University, recognized as one of the top three universities in Eurasia, serves as a prominent center for education, science, and culture in the Central Asian region. With a comprehensive curriculum spanning various fields, the university boasts an extensive array of educational offerings, including 37 vocational education programs, 12 specialties, 70 bachelor's degrees, 39 master's degrees, 100 postgraduate programs, and 7 PhD programs. The university enrolls approximately 48,000 students, including 15,000 international students from neighboring and distant countries such as Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Russia, India, Pakistan, Iran, Syria, and Palestine. Osh State University has 20 faculties, 3 institutes, 6 colleges, 105 departments, 6 gymnasiums, 27 educational buildings, 10 student dormitories, medical and student clinics, boarding houses, sports complexes, and an extensive library with electronic resources. With a faculty comprising 2,469 highly qualified faculty members, including 108 professors, 475 associate professors, and 4 PhD holders, the university is committed to fostering education, research, and innovation. Osh State University focuses on knowledge generation, research, effective personnel training, international recognition, and active participation in global rankings. By commercializing scientific achievements, the university aims to address socio-economic challenges in the region. In pursuit of academic excellence, the university is adapting its educational standards and programs to meet modern labor market demands and international standards. New educational programs in emerging fields such as nanotechnology, robotics, and artificial intelligence are being developed to align with industry needs. Through flexible teaching methods, individualized learning, and digital platforms, the university aims to offer a personalized learning experience to students. The university has embraced credit-based learning technologies and student feedback mechanisms to ensure transparency and accountability in education.

Science and Research

Science and research are top priorities at Osh State University, aimed at addressing socio-economic challenges in the city and region. Collaborative agreements with local administrations facilitate projects in areas such as hydroelectric power, alternative energy, tourism, and environmental conservation. Over the past 4 years, joint projects totaling 197 million soms have been implemented, with significant contributions from international funds. The university's publication activity has surged, with a notable increase in articles published in reputable international journals. Monetary rewards incentivize publication, with bonuses awarded to authors based on their contributions. Osh State University actively recruits foreign professors to facilitate joint publications and scientific exchanges. Internationally, the university maintains partnerships with over 300 institutions across 30 countries. Over 20 international double-degree programs offer students opportunities for global education experiences. Through academic mobility initiatives, hundreds of students and faculty members engage in exchanges and training programs worldwide each year. The university's efforts in international education have bolstered its reputation abroad and contributed positively to the local economy.

Rating and Feedback

Osh State University places significant emphasis on fair, objective, and constructive evaluation and feedback systems to aid student progress and skill enhancement. Active participation in national and international rankings facilitates the university's integration into the global educational environment and ensures compliance with international standards.

Collaboration with independent international organizations like IAAR (Independent Accreditation and Rating Agency) enhances educational and scientific activities, incorporating global quality assurance practices. Since 2017, Osh State University has partnered with IAAR, receiving its first institutional accreditation in 2018 for 5 years. Subsequent accreditations have further improved educational quality, with the university becoming the first in Kyrgyzstan to receive a 7-year accreditation.

Osh State University's participation in international rankings, such as IAAR EUR, reflects its commitment to excellence, with recognition as the best multidisciplinary university in the Eurasian region. The university's consistent ranking among the top universities in the Eurasian space underscores its dedication to global recognition.

Domestically, the university's performance in IAAR's national rankings solidifies its position as a leader in higher education. Recognition in both institutional and program rankings guides prospective students and parents in selecting the university.

Digital Environment

The pandemic necessitated the rapid adoption of distance learning technologies, prompting Osh State University to implement the “digital university” project. This comprehensive digital transformation encompasses infrastructure, management, educational processes, and student interactions, transitioning all university activities to a digital format.

Since 2020, various digital platforms have been developed and deployed, including electronic journals, curricula, archives, report cards, libraries, and hospital systems. These platforms enhance efficiency and accessibility, with internal professor assessments conducted via electronic personal sheets.

Efforts are underway to develop an electronic campus (e-Campus), integrating existing digital platforms with online learning to facilitate full-fledged online education. Collaboration with the Internet Society of Kyrgyzstan led to the establishment of an Internet exchange point, improving internet speed and affordability.

Modern Infrastructure

Significant investments have been made in infrastructure development, with the construction and renovation of over 20 educational buildings and dormitories in the past three years. These modern facilities, including sports complexes, educational buildings, and clinics, meet contemporary standards and enhance the learning environment for students and faculty alike.

Integration of Education, Science, Production, and Commercialization

Osh State University is committed to seamlessly integrating education, science, production, and commercialization to drive innovation and entrepreneurship. The university envisions a continuous cycle of innovation spanning education, research, production, and commercialization. This approach is exemplified by initiatives like the training and production plant, where students gain practical experience while producing goods. Similar complexes will be established across faculties to ensure a cohesive link between education, science, and production.

The university's medical clinic epitomizes this integration by providing comprehensive medical services. State-of-the-art facilities enable complex surgeries, including kidney transplants, with plans for liver transplants in collaboration with Turkish specialists. A new 7-story medical clinic will further enhance the university's capacity for medical education, research, and advanced surgeries.

The veterinary clinic extends these principles to animal healthcare, offering a range of services and supporting student-led projects. Additionally, creative workshops and the film academy provide platforms for students to develop entrepreneurial skills while pursuing creative endeavors.

To foster entrepreneurship among students and young scientists, the university established the Youth Business Park in 2022. This business incubator nurtures innovative ideas, provides entrepreneurial training, and facilitates startup development with the support of local and international partners.

The university's agricultural center promotes entrepreneurial activities in agriculture, empowering students to implement business projects. The integration of education, science, and production prepares students for their chosen fields and cultivates entrepreneurial spirit.

Students are at the forefront of university activities, supported by various media resources and social initiatives. Financial aid, including scholarships and cash prizes, rewards student achievements and ensures social support. The university prioritizes sports development, with professional sports teams and modern sports facilities contributing to student well-being and campus life.

Osh State University embraces a new brand identity reflective of its rich history and future aspirations. This brand symbolizes the university's transformation into a modern, forward-thinking institution, committed to excellence in education, research, and innovation.

Road Map

Osh State University has devised a roadmap to transition into a research university model, prioritizing research activity and commercialization of research outcomes. This roadmap outlines specific steps to enhance the university's scientific potential, increase citations of scientific articles, and attract large scientific communities.

The expected outcomes of implementing scientific collaborations include generating income from various activities to improve university operations and infrastructure, ensuring high-quality education meeting international standards, fostering holistic development of students, faculty, and staff, and actively monitoring global developments in education and science.

Amidst fierce competition, universities must adapt and align their development with market and economic needs. Osh State University aims to play a pivotal role in regional and national development by strengthening security, nurturing human potential, and preserving cultural traditions while meeting intellectual and innovative demands.

To address systemic challenges, the university aims to advance high-tech sectors, enhance healthcare with innovative methods, and minimize risks across socio-economic, financial, political, environmental, and cultural spheres.

Osh State University, with its rich history and dynamic growth, is evolving into a modern university complex with significant educational, research, and innovation potential. Aligned with global standards, the university sets ambitious goals for achieving breakthrough results and continuing its trajectory of progress.

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