Miras Daulenov, President of Narxoz University: How to get a profession of the future?

Miras Daulenov has been the President of Narxoz University since June 1. Previously he worked as the Vice-Minister of Education of Kazakhstan. In an interview with Informburo.kz the newly appointed head of the university talked about the main trends in education, how universities have adapted to distance-learning format and their return to offline.

- Miras Mukhtarovich, the pandemic has become an ordeal for the education sector. However, it gave a powerful impetus to the development of remote technologies. How can you evaluate these changes? What is the future of distant education?

- These one and a half years have become a stress test for the higher education system of Kazakhstan and not only Kazakhstan. We must admit that our system has passed this test. I was impressed by the level of support provided by universities to each other during this difficult period, they were sharing experiences and technologies. For example, the IT university helped to establish LSM. And when Satpayev University could not hold practical classes for students living in Aktau, Yesenov University opened its laboratories for them. This collaboration between universities demonstrated importance of interaction during hard times.

– What about the return to offline – how are the universities coping with that new stress?

- Now, when universities are returning to the traditional learning format, it is not about rolling back to March 15, 2020. It would be a huge mistake to abandon the achievements of the pandemic period. Now, for example, there is no need to demand printed theses with blue seals again. For example, lectures, as we learned, are very difficult to conduct in the video conference mode, because the teacher cannot fully capture the students’ attention. However, for large cohorts of 300-400 people, it is more reasonable to conduct lectures in an online format.

– Do you think that the distance learning is the thing from the future?

– No, I rather support traditional learning formats, but with elements of distance learning. Remote study is suitable for people who already have a university degree, and are aiming for a second degree or a master's or doctoral degree. For young undergraduate students, it is very important to dive into the academic process. The university does not only pass the knowledge, it solves a much more important task of socializing a person, educating them to become professionals. That is why the world's leading universities, such as Oxford or Harvard, were postponing the introduction of the distance-learning format until the very last moment.

- How will Narxoz students study in the new academic year?

- Almost all students of the Narxoz University are vaccinated. They understand the importance of vaccination for protecting themselves and other people.
Firstly, only students with a "green" or "blue" status in the Ashyq application can enter the university. We will organize distance learning for those who will have a "red" or "yellow" status. Secondly, both teachers and students will be wearing face masks during the classes. Thirdly, we introduce a floating schedule: one cohort of students starts studying at 8 am, the second - at 8.15 am, and so on. This will help students avoid meeting each other during the breaks. In addition, lectures for large groups of students will be held online.

Follow the link to read the full interview.