On June 16, President Shavkat Mirziyoyev chaired a video conference on the priority tasks in the higher education system.
The consistent work is being carried out in the country to ensure quality education to the youth, train specialists who keep pace with progress. The early reforms in the sphere of higher education were aimed primarily at increasing coverage, improving the financial condition of institutes and universities, material support of professors and teachers.
In particular, over the past 3 years, the number of universities has increased from 65 to 117, the admission quota – from 66 thousand to 181 thousand. The material and technical base of the universities has been improved. As a part of joint educational programs with foreign countries, training of specialists in 64 new specialties has started. The salaries of professors and teachers were increased to an average of 3,5 times.
The absence of noticeable quality changes was noted at the meeting. The Ministry of Higher and Secondary Specialized Education and rectors do not pay a due level of attention to improving the quality of education and organizing academic work based on the needs of the market.
For example, today 55% of 815 fields of study do not meet the requirements of the labor market. The universities are not provided with textbooks on about 2 thousand subjects, and curricula are based on the subjects and fields of study from forty years ago. In addition, corruption is widespread in this sphere.
In general, according to the results of the survey conducted on the ground, 65% of the respondents noted that they do not feel the results of reforms in higher education.
Therefore, the President has outlined four priority tasks in this area at the meeting.
The first is to enhance the role of governing councils and expand the powers of the departments of higher educational institutions.
The second is to bring the learning process in line with the requirements of the market, link it with production and create an environment for students’ self-work.
Third, increasing the scientific potential of universities, developing science and innovation.
Fourth, to decrease the paperwork of teachers and students, as well as considerably reduce the bureaucracy and corruption due to the digitalization of the sphere.
It was noted that in order to effectively fulfill these tasks, the higher education institutions will be mandated to independently make academic, organizational and managerial decisions.
That means that from now on, the governing council of the university will make the decisions on the introduction of curricula, plans and literature, determining the workload of teachers and forms of education, as well. Now the work done by each department will be assessed according to its scientific potential and the indicators of youth involvement in scientific activities.
The academic supervisors who regularly publish articles in prestigious foreign publications, as well as whose students uphold their scientific work on time and in a quality manner, will be given the right to accept up to 5 doctoral students and up to 3 independent applicants. The practice of sending one young scientist from each department for internship abroad will also be introduced.
The rectors of universities have been tasked with creating research centers at the departments and providing them with educational, laboratory equipment and the necessary facilities. The need to establish interaction between the departments and the enterprises is indicated as well as create conditions for teachers to conduct research at enterprises.
The existing huge discrepancy between the directions of higher education and real needs were criticized. Today, there are 40 thousand vacancies in the service sector, 38 thousand in industry, 12 thousand in construction, 10 thousand in agriculture and 4 thousand in the communications and information technology. However, the graduates do not meet this demand either in quantity or in qualifications.
The process of education is conducted according to the standards approved in 2001. However, during this period, the international education standards were revised and re-adopted twice. Some subjects do not meet the requirements of the time and the market, but do fit professors and teachers. The students also take subjects that are not related to the acquired specialty.
In this regard, the responsible executives were instructed to bring state educational standards in line with international ones, to transfer the educational process at all universities to a credit-modular system. The need to revise the content of the subjects taught, eliminate duplication, increase the number of specialized subjects, as well as to create an opportunity for the students to conduct independent research is indicated. The task is to optimize the list of professions requiring higher education and introduce new professions that are in demand by the sectors of the economy.
A particular attention is paid to the issue of the scientific potential of higher education institutions.
As the international practice shows, a prestigious university is the one, where the scientific potential is at least 70%. In our country, this figure is very low. Thus, the scientific potential of 24 universities does not even reach 25%, while 19 universities do not have a single professor or doctor of science. Over the past 30 years, only 208 professors and teachers have received their degrees abroad.
Therefore, the President instructed as from next year to double the number of quotas for doctoral studies, and in the following years to increase them by 50% annually.
For these purposes, an additional 100 billion Uzbek soums will be allocated annually from the budget. In addition, each industry will allocate another 10 billion Uzbek soums for doctoral studies for universities in the relevant specialties.
The need for the direct purchase of educational and scientific literature from abroad, the transfer into electronic form of about 4 million publications in the higher education institutions was noted. The task was set to connect all libraries into a single network and create round-the-clock access to it for the students and researchers, and introduce the IT anti-plagiarism programs.
It was emphasized that the risks of bureaucracy and corruption are high in higher education institutions, and the complete digitalization of the whole educational process and management will be a perfect solution to avoid it.
This year, the number of quotas for admission to higher education institutions has increased by 13% compared to last year and reached 181 thousand. More than 1,5 million young people are expected to apply for admission. At the meeting, it was instructed to conduct this process in well-organized manner in compliance with quarantine and safety requirements.
The issue of increasing the number of accommodations in dormitories was also discussed. At present, there is a need for 149 thousand student housing. It is scheduled to allocate the land plots on the territory or near the universities through an auction to provide with dormitories by means of private partnership with entrepreneurs. The students will cover 50% of their dormitory accommodation costs.
At the meeting, the Ministry of Higher and Secondary Specialized Education was instructed to approve a list of educational directions and professions, prepare textbooks and teaching aids, staff the managing boards of the universities with qualified personnel.