Study in Kazakhstan


Gargi Tomar
Updated on Feb 17, 2022 8:04 PM IST


Officially the Republic of Kazakhstan, Kazakhstan is the largest country in Central Asia and the ninth largest territory in the world. In the north and the west, the country shares a border with Russia, with China in the east, with Kyrgyzstan, with Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan in the south. According to the 2020 estimate, the country is home to over 18.7 million people. Since Kazakhstan’s independence in 1991, per capita GDP has increased 20-fold – from USD 700 to USD 14,000.

The country has around 150 universities, 14 of which are featured in the QS World University Rankings 2022, of which the top four are Al-Farabi Kazakh National University (KazNU), L. N. Gumilyov Eurasian National University, Auezov South Kazakhstan University (SKU) and Satbayev University.

In the overall Times Higher Education World University Rankings as well, four universities are featured in the 2022 edition. These are Al-Farabi Kazakh National University (KazNU), L. N. Gumilyov Eurasian National University, Satbayev University and Kazakh National Pedagogical University Abai.

Every year, the country welcomes around 18,000 students from different countries, most of which enrol in medical programmes. In 2011, the country joined the European Higher Education Area and has been a part of the Bologna Process, which aims at ensuring comparability in the quality and standards of higher education qualifications. 

A three-level model was introduced based on a credit system in order to measure acquired knowledge. Today, all the universities in the country grant three levels of degrees: bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral. In January 2019, Kazakhstan transferred to a new credit system, fully compatible with ECTS, with 240 credits for Bachelor’s, 60-120 for Master’s and 180 for Doctoral (PhD) programmes.

See What Kazakhstan Offers International MBBS Applicants

The largest landlocked country boasts its rich cultural heritage, a combination of a multitude of religions, ethnicities, traditions and cultures while being entirely unique and different from the Western world. Only 66% of the total population is made of locals, making it a truly international country. The cities of Almaty, Astana and Shymkent, which have the highest number of higher education institutions, particularly offer a perfect blend of ancient culture and modern development and infrastructure. 

Why Study in Kazakhstan?

Universities in Kazakhstan strive to create an effective model of a competitive and innovative environment, rendering high-quality education across all fields of study and presenting new knowledge by interacting with the global community. Here are some of the reasons why students should consider studying in Kazakhstan:

Affordability: Compared to other international study destinations, Kazakhstan has more affordable Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees on offer. Overall, the country is an affordable living and study destination for international students, where the cost of living is relatively cheaper. According to Numbeo, the cost of living in Kazakhstan is only around 19% higher than in India, whereas it can go up to 50% higher in countries like Ukraine or Russia.

English-taught degrees: Almost all universities in Kazakhstan offer degrees in English that are accredited by the national government and are fully or partially recognised across the world. These 223 academic English-taught degrees at 21 universities and 301 programs run jointly with international HEIs are also a great opportunity for students to build a professional network not only with industry leaders in the country but all around the globe. This, further, can be a great source of potential collaboration and employment opportunities post graduation. 

Well-Established Education System: The Kazakhstan education system works on a number of reforms and policies aimed at strengthening the research capacity and quality of higher education. Also, in 2010, it signed the Bologna Process which is a mechanism to promote intergovernmental cooperation among 48 countries in Europe in the field of higher education. Additionally, the universities ensure professional learning is carried out by highly reputed and experienced teachers.

Availability of Scholarships: While education in Kazakhstan is already inexpensive, universities in the country also offer a number of scholarships to international students including those from India. These may either be full or partial scholarships covering tuition along with living and other expenses.

Multicultural Environment: Kazakhstan is a diverse country comprising more than 130 ethnicities, including Russians, Kazakhs, Tatars, Ukrainians, Germans, Uyghurs, and more. Ethnic cultural centres have also been set up across the country to support the ethnic identity of different nationalities.

Economic Potential: According to the BBC, Kazakhstan has vast mineral reserves and huge economic potential. Since its independence in 1991, major investments in the oil sector have brought about rapid economic growth in the country and led to the reduction of stark disparities in wealth among the people. Kazakhstan was ranked 25th out of 190 countries in the World Bank's Doing Business 2020 report. This placed it ahead of countries like Iceland (26th), followed by  Austria, Russia, Japan, etc.

Medical Universities Approved by NMC: For Indian students willing to study medicine abroad, this is a huge plus point. All medical universities in Kazakhstan are approved by the National Medical Commission (NMC; formerly known as MCI), thus allowing students to appear for FMGE  (Foreign Medical Graduate Examinations) upon their degree completion.

Education System In Kazakhstan

The education system in Kazakhstan can be divided into five levels including kindergarten, primary school, lower secondary school, higher secondary school and higher education.

Kindergarten: The country’s constitution protects the right to access to kindergarten for all children. Children usually start kindergarten at the age of 5.

Primary School: Primary school in Kazakhstan usually starts at the age of 7, although many prefer to admit their children when they turn 6 or sometimes even 8. The same runs from years 1 to 4, wherein classes are conducted in two sessions. Primary schools are state-owned and the curriculum for both primary and secondary schools is set up by the Ministry of Education.

Lower Secondary School: In Kazakhstan, lower secondary school refers to grade 5 to grade 9, which corresponds to junior high school or middle school in the US. Students, at this level, are in the age group of 11 to 15 years. 

Higher Secondary School: After lower secondary school, students transition to higher secondary school which includes three tracks. The first track is general secondary school covering grades 10-12 and the second and third are vocational education. Vocational education, further includes initial training schools, lyceums and colleges. 

Higher Education/Tertiary Institutions: The country has three stages of higher education. These include: 

  • University level first stage - Bachelor’s degree or Diploma of Specialist -- four years

  • University level second stage - Master’s -- two to three years

  • University level third stage - Doctoral (PhD) -- a minimum of three years

Our Comprehensive Search Highlights Why Kazakhstan Is Perfect for You!

Medical Education System In Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan is one of the most sought-after international study destinations for higher education in the field of medicine and particularly for the MBBS course. Along with offering high standard medical education, the universities in Kazakhstan make sure students get good practical exposure through high clinical practice at affiliated hospitals. These universities are approved and recognised by the National Medical Commission (NMC), WHO, USMLE, IMED and other organisations. 

In the field of medicine, the specialities covered are dentistry, general medicine, pharmacy, nursing, public health, among others. Usually, an MBBS course in Kazakhstan lasts for five years with an additional year of internship training. 

On-Campus Student Life, Athletics & Extra-Curricular Activities In Kazakhstan

All students including Kazakhs and international students actively participate in all student activities conducted by the university whether it is at the regional, national or international level. Apart from providing students with opportunities to develop their academic skills and knowledge, they are also encouraged to take part in professional development opportunities and extracurricular activities.

Typically, universities in Kazakhstan are also equipped with a sports complex consisting of a gym, a multifunctional hall and other halls for yoga, fitness, dance, gymnastics, martial arts and more. This motivates students to lead a healthy lifestyle, raise physical and psychological health awareness among students. 

In addition, student clubs at the universities allow students to engage in various areas of intellectual development such as school-based clubs, creativity, civic engagement, entertainment, performing arts, sports, culture, scientific and research activity and so on. 

Top 3 Places To Study In Kazakhstan

Here are the top three student cities in Kazakhstan: 

Almaty: Almaty, the largest city in Kazakhstan, was formerly known as Alma-Ata. Of the 14 ranked Kazakhstan universities in the QS World University Rankings 2022, eight are housed in Almaty. It is also home to the independent KIMEP University, which delivers American-style education in English. It is located in the south of the country and is a thriving centre for business, education and culture, with a lot to offer in terms of clubs, ski resorts, museums, fine dining, transport links and more. 

Astana: Astana is the capital city of Kazakhstan. Higher education has been playing a key role in the city’s development, which is delivered entirely in English and courses are being offered and developed in partnerships with renowned universities around the world including the UK’s UCL and Cambridge University; the US’ Duke University and Carnegie Mellon University among others. 

Shymkent: Shymkent is the third most populous city in Kazakhstan. With an international airport and a strong transportation network, the city is known to be a major cultural and industrial centre. It is home to one of the renowned universities in the country, South Kazakhstan State University.

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