- Why do we need universities today and what are the challenges facing higher education in Uzbekistan?
- The whole world is moving towards the knowledge economy, where knowledge and human capital are the main factors of development. Universities in the knowledge economy are flagships and environments where science and practice merge, and where innovation and technology enter mass production. The challenge is that the speed of change is so fast that some areas of knowledge become obsolete within 3-7 years, and the industry is not prepared to wait for educational institutions to transform themselves. Here too, universities have to prove their relevance in education. They must not only be able to respond, but also be able to predict what skills graduates should have in 3-5 years. For Uzbekistan, this task is twice as difficult. Together with the challenges listed above, the higher education sector needs to undergo a transformation of the entire environment, with a multiple increase in the coverage of higher education and a transition from elite to mass higher education. Most universities should switch from centralized management to a more independent management, starting with the independent development of courses and curricula, determining the number of students to be recruited, and ending with an independent financial and economic department of the university.
- What is " entrepreneurial university"? It sounds like "commercial." What will be taught there and can one teach to be an entrepreneur at all?
- The concept of an entrepreneurial university is not new in itself and has been actively used in the university environment of developed countries since the end of the last century. An entrepreneurial university is a natural incubator, it tries to provide an enabling environment in which the university community can explore, evaluate and use ideas that can be transformed into social and economic entrepreneurial initiatives. Business universities engage in partnerships, networks and other relationships to create an umbrella for interaction, collaboration and cooperation.
Hence, our goals are to raise graduates with a systematic, entrepreneurial mindset. We aim to prepare competitive and technologically advanced graduates who will be able to create startups and bring domestic products and services to foreign markets. The curriculum of our university will be based, on the one hand, on the development of "soft" skills (entrepreneurial thinking, leadership, creativity, information analysis) and, on the other hand, will provide solid fundamental knowledge and consolidate it in practice.
With the support of our foreign partner universities, we will implement the most relevant approaches and methods, such as project-based learning, when training takes place in the course of a specific project, game simulations, with the help of which it is possible to simulate the work of a real company, as well as case studies. We plan to attract the best local as well as foreign teachers and practitioners, bringing the latest challenges and industry solutions to the curricula.
In parallel with the opening of the university in Tashkent, a branch of TEAM University in Termez will be opened. It will be the first foreign branch of a higher education institution in Surkhandarya Province. We plan to initially launch mirror programmes similar to those in Tashkent, but with capacity development, the branch will be more focused on local scientific and socio-economic needs in the region.
TEAM University is a synergy of academic representatives and entrepreneurs who are ultimately employers of graduate students. The business community in Uzbekistan thus contributes to the development of higher education in our country. It is led by leaders of companies who know what tomorrow's business environment in the region will look like, what kind of personnel are needed to be able to work and manage business processes, who can be entrusted with developing business ideas and their implementation.
- At what stage are you now? When do you expect TEAM University to open?
- The draft decree establishing TEAM University has been publicly discussed and we hope that it will be signed soon. Over the last six months, large-scale studies have been organized, meetings have been held with rectors of local and well-known foreign universities, with many foreign experts, including Andrey Volkov - the first rector of the Skolkovo business school, Deputy Chairman of the Council 5-100 on improving the competitiveness of Russian universities; Frederick Starr - Professor, Director of the "Institute of Central Asia and the Caucasus", former rector of the Oberlin Institute, USA; Elena Bondarenko - Director of entrepreneurial programs at the Skolkovo business school and many others. Dr. Randall Rhodes, First Vice Rector of the American University in Armenia, visited Uzbekistan as part of the facilitation session on this project. Also in the framework of the conclusion of the strategic partnership over the past year, meetings were held with a dozen representatives of British universities. Final negotiations are currently underway on the strategic partnership and the opening of a British curriculum at TEAM University in Tashkent and Termez.
We plan to have the first intake of students for the BA programmes by the end of summer 2020.