Population (2018, January 1st estimate): 32,653,900
Uzbekistan is a landlocked country in Central Asia that borders with Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan and Turkmenistan. It is Central Asia’s most populated country and most of its population are ethnic Uzbeks. It has an area of 447,400 square kilometres mostly covered by deserts and mountains. Its capital city is Tashkent. The Uzbekistan’s economy is in a gradual transition to the market economy. Uzbekistan is a major producer and exporter of services, food products, energy products, ferrous and nonferrous metals, machinery and automobiles2, it has become the largest electricity producer in Central Asia. Uzbekistan has an estimated GDP per capita of USD 1,533. Since 2016, major reforms are taking place in the framework of Uzbekistan’s Development Strategy for 2017-2021. These reforms concern all sectors of the economy and education is not an exception. Reforms are profound in their nature and assume total reconsideration of the governance principles, liberalisation of the economy, enhancement of healthcare and education quality and access and others.
There are currently 96 higher education institution in Uzbekistan out of which 24 are universities, 35 are institutes, 1 academy, 21 branches of HEI, 1 conservatory, 1 highest school, and 7 affiliations of foreign institutions. HEIs report to the Ministry of Higher and Secondary Specialised Education (MHSSE), additionally specialised HEIs are coordinated by other sectoral ministries. As of 2017, there were seven representations of foreign HEIs in Uzbekistan – the Plekhanov Russian Academy of Economics, the Westminster International University in Tashkent, the branch of Lomonosov Moscow State University, the Management Development Institute of Singapore, the Gubkin Russian State University of Oil and Gas, the Polytechnic University of Turin, and the Inha University. All of them are located in Tashkent city. As of 2017, there was no registered private HEI in Uzbekistan.
In the light of reforms in the educational sector, the government has opened its educational market to foreign educational providers. In 2018, Webster university has launched a programme on the basis of Tashkent University of World Languages, NCUK has launched admission to its foundation programmes, Amity University has announced plans to open campus in Uzbekistan in 2019-2020. Moreover, five major universities of the Russian Federation, namely National Research Technological University ‘Moscow Institute of Steel and Alloys’, Bauman Moscow State Technical University, Sechenov First Moscow State Medical University, Moscow Architectural University, Russian Technological University, have announced intentions to open affiliated branches in Uzbekistan.
One of the considerable reforms in 2016 is the full modernisation of bachelor and master curricula, in consideration of the best practices of successful universities of the world. The modernisation considers new requirements for teaching staff and study programmes have been revised and updated taking into account changing labour market requirements. This reform is based on sustainability principles and programmes are being reconsidered on a yearly basis.
The number of vocational colleges has grown rapidly, from under 50 in 1998 to over 1,500 in 2014. Until 2018, the secondary VET education was coordinated by the Centre for Secondary Specialised Vocational Education under the Ministry of Higher and Secondary Specialised Education, after 2018 by the Centre for Professional Education under the Ministry of Higher and Secondary Specialised Education. Both the government and international partners have made significant investments in infrastructure in recent years, particularly in the secondary specialised education sector, to enhance the quality of vocational training.
Since 2016, the vocational education and training system has been going through major reforms. Together with the overall system, the transition between secondary and secondary specialised education has been reviewed in order to provide opportunities for students to choose between school/ lyceum/ college as opposed to lyceum/ college after completion of the first nine years of schooling starting from 2017/18 academic year. In 2018, a Decree of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan On Measures for Cardinal Improvement of the General Secondary, Secondary Specialised and Professional Education has been adopted. There are two major changes provided for in the decree. The first one is that from the 2018/2019 school year, compulsory general secondary and specialised secondary education is carried out in general education schools, including boarding schools, specialised schools, and academic lyceums on the basis of continuous and 11 years cycle. The second one is that starting from the 2019/2020 school year, admission to vocational colleges will be carried out from among graduates of 11th grade of general education schools on a voluntary basis in order to obtain the relevant specialty (profession) with a term of study from six months to two years. In 2018, Centre of Vocational Education has been created to replace the Centre for Secondary Specialised Vocational Education in order to further enhance the quality of vocational education in the country and support the implementation of the decree.
The Central Asia HE and VET Briefs are intended to provide a review and update of the current education policies in the CA countries with a clear focus on the thematic priorities identified both in the Riga and Astana Ministerial Meetings in 2015/2017 respectively, in order to summarise and share the findings from the CAEP 2 with education practitioners and experts both in the EU and CA countries for further discussion among policy makers, education practitioners and related stakeholders in HE and VET.