Internationalization of Kyrgyzstan universities: double degrees and digitization of higher education

The scientific and practical conference "Internationalization of Universities: Challenges and Prospects" was held in the capital of Kyrgyzstan. The experts from many countries analyzed the influence of internationalization on higher education policy and practices in Kyrgyzstan and consider all possible scenarios of development of Kyrgyzstan universities taking into account the main world trends.

Dr. Svetlana Sirmbard, Rector of ADAM University and a member of the National Team of Higher Education Reforms Experts, told about the importance of taking education to a new level and the role of digitization of education in enhancing competitiveness of Kyrguz students.

The key issue is the development of double degree programs, one of advanced forms of international cooperation. They are taught and certified equally by two universities in different countries. Dr. Sirmbard offers double degrees as a cost-effective alternative to studying abroad, noting that an increasing number are organized not by two universities in the format "one foreign partner and one domestic partner", but by a larger consortium, allowing each to draw on its strengths and tap into the resources already available elsewhere. One of such consortia comprises 12 universities.

The second area for development is digitization. Several years ago, ADAM University became the winner of the large international e-learning project. Further expansion of online learning will widen access to higher education (for those with good internet connections), especially for women at home with young children who have no opportunity to go to university. Massive open online courses (MOOCs), that are widely used all over the world, are also being developed in Kyrgyzstan.

A challenge that remains on the way to internationalization of higher education is how to make digital learning opportunities available to everyone. Online learning and MOOCs are two ways to open or extend access to higher education, but challenges remain for students with different disabilities. Special programs are needed to adapt the educational process for students with hearing and vision disorders. Dr. Sirmbard notes that they do not have such programs yet but that's what they are going to think over at the next stage.

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