The effectiveness of the Kazakhstani higher education system will continue to be a critical determinant of the country’s future. Kazakhstan is fortunate to have a highly literate population that appreciates the value of education and is proud of the country’s high-technology achievements in the nuclear and space fields. The prospect of benefiting from the increased resources available to the government has been a strong incentive for many Kazakhstani specialists to search for their niches in private business with or without the benefits of higher education. As the economy continues to improve, new professional opportunities for the nation’s children are important motivators for many families, and public support for education at all levels is therefore widespread. According to colleagues in Kazakhstan, interest in S&T education is on the rise.
The government has been establishing a variety of mechanisms to improve the integration of education and research (e.g., upgrading student laboratories, creating programs for students to spend more time in research settings) and to transfer technologies from universities to commercial enterprises (e.g., student internships in companies, university technology transfer offices, incubators). But these mechanisms, however well designed, will be useful only if significant research activities are integrated into the education system and if competitive technologies are developed that are of interest to the commercial sector. Only the human resources that are available in Kazakhstan can ensure that R&D activities are meaningful and that competitive S&T products flow through the system.