Monday 15 July 2013

UK-Kazakhstan education partnerships

Following the Prime Minister’s trade delegation to Kazakhstan at the start of this month, the UK Higher Education International Unit and British Council are actively exploring opportunities to develop links between UK and Kazakhstani universities and higher education institutions. Both Martin Davidson, the Chief Executive of the British Council, and Dr Joanna Newman, Director of the UK Higher Education International Unit, accompanied the Prime Minister to Kazakhstan.

The Prime Minister commented during the visit “I was very struck by Nazarbayev University and with the growth of your population and young people who want good education, good training, I think there’s much more participation we can do together… I think the Educational opportunities are both Kazakhstani students coming to Britain, British universities partnering with Kazakhstani universities, vocational and educational training opportunities.

Prime Minister Cameron added “The President and I were talking over lunch about his next visit to Britain and how much he wants to see our best universities and how they turn technology into businesses. So I’ll be looking for some competitive bids for the best place to take him on his next visit to the United Kingdom.”

A special education roundtable was held in Astana, and the members of the UK’s trade delegation who have committed to host Kazakhstani trainees as part of the Bolashak Fellowship Programme was revealed. The Bolashak Programme (Bolashak = “the Future”) is the Government of Kazakhstan’s flagship programme to support the acquisition of new skills and qualifications by Kazakhstani citizens through international study. Since its launch in 1993, more than 3,000 Bolashak scholars have studied in the UK on under-graduate, post-graduate and doctoral programmes, representing 39% of the total number of 9,233 scholars funded (the rest split across 26 other countries). The UK is by far the favourite destination.

Sir David Wallace, Master of Churchill College, Cambridge, said “ We discussed in our roundtable the need to promote greater study mobility between the UK and Kazakhstan. In this context, I am delighted to announce that several of the members of today’s trade delegation have offered to host trainees under the Government of Kazakhstan’s flagship Bolashak Fellowship Programme, which funds work-based training in other countries for mid-career specialists in engineering, science, medicine and education.

We are extremely grateful to Invensys, Lloyds Register, the University of Warwick, Kilfrost, East Malling Research Institute, University College London and the Camborne School of Mines for their very generous offer to host a number of Bolashak Fellows over the next couple of years, which I know will make a valuable contribution to the further development of Kazakhstan’s skills base as well as supporting enhanced people-to-people cooperation between our two countries.”

Dr Joanna Newman, Director, UK Higher Education International Unit said: “The strength of the UK higher education sector is its autonomy, variety and diversity. We have world class institutions and expertise in subject areas of vital importance to Kazakhstan in engineering, oil and gas and training and this visit has enabled us to begin discussions on developing partnerships and programmes.

 “The UK is the number one destination for Bolashak scholars and over 140 Fellows have visited the UK since the introduction of the fellowship programme last year for mid- career professionals. We are actively exploring how the programme can work with more UK institutions.”

Martin Davidson, Chief Executive of the British Council said: “The British Council looks forward to exploring more opportunities with our strategic partner, the Centre of International Programs [which administers the Bolashak scholarship programmes]. In addition to that we will support cooperation between the UK and Kazakhstani researchers and research institutions through our Researcher Links project. The project will provide a forum for early career researchers from the UK and Kazakhstan to learn from each other and explore opportunities for building long-lasting research collaborations.”