Uzbekistan's 'University of Future' - link to new industrial revolution (Exclusive)

Uzbekistan's 'University of Future' - link to new industrial revolution (Exclusive)

Baku, Azerbaijan, Nov. 13

By Fikret Dolukhanov – Trend:

The University of the Future in Uzbekistan will prepare specialists for qualifications that will emerge as a result of the upcoming Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), CEO and founder of the University Bekzod Hamzaev told Trend.

According to him, the 4IR will eventually end up with many jobs getting obsoleted.

“We carried out an analysis of the labor market of the country for eight consecutive months to find out which qualifications will be in demand in Uzbekistan. The thing is that the majority of universities, not only in Uzbekistan, but in the whole world, prepare students on qualifications that will not exist in the future. As a result of the 4IR, any job that can be replaced by a computer will indeed eventually be replaced. We will lose lots of jobs,” Hamzaev said, adding that expected changes in the labor market are the main reason why the University will focus on IT, programming, augmented reality and blockchain technologies.

Hamzaev also said that there will be no entrance exams at the University, as they are a deterrent to wider education coverage for the general population.

“There are so many people who want to study in here, and too few universities. In 2018, approximately 800,000 students applied for admission to universities, and only nine percent of them could enroll, due to restrictions. The University of the Future has no limitations in scalability, which is why there is no need for entrance exams. Everyone will just need to present the necessary documentation, the list of which is approved by the Ministry of Higher and Secondary Special Education,” the founder of the University of the Future said.

In the first year, the University is expecting to attract 50,000 students in the first year and gradually increase the number to up to 5 million students by 2025.

“The number of students has been determined, taking into account recommendations from foreign partners. We believe this is the optimal number to start things off. After the president of Uzbekistan signs the relevant decree, we’ll launch the internal alpha [first experimental version] test in the Spring 2019 and will accept the first students in the Autumn 2019. Such a phased launch will allow effectively eliminating all the bugs [software flaws], test the alpha and beta versions in order to provide the finished product in a timely manner,” said Hamzaev.

He also noted that the university will not have a certain time of admission, as students will be accepted to study all year round. The process will have individual approach taking into account the field of study.

Following the results of training, a state diploma will be issued.

According to Hamzaev, the University is already negotiating with European and US certification institutes for the accreditation of the University diploma. However, for this, a new university must work for at least three to four years, and only after that an independent certification body will issue accreditation.

In addition, the government of Uzbekistan will graciously provide the University with the premises of former vocational colleges in 14 regions so as to assure that the university can realize its vision of multipurpose education.

Hamzaev noted that all branches of the University will contain test, study and tutoring spaces, as well as maker-spaces, co-working spaces, startup incubators and business accelerators, so that students learn to put their knowledge into practice and will be better prepared for the real world.

“Creating a new job is easier than finding the right one. We aim at creating future entrepreneurs. Our goal is to create a startup ecosystem, which is currently absent not only in Uzbekistan, but in the whole of Central Asia. Such an environment will allow opening new jobs, small and medium-sized enterprises, scale-ups in Uzbekistan and in the region in general. Our main task is to make people independent, so that the students have an entrepreneurial mindset,” Hamzaev concluded.

Earlier the Ministry of Innovative Development of Uzbekistan has signed a $40 million agreement for the creation of the University of the Future.

The document was signed with an angel investor who will invest the $40 million for the creation of the first online University in Central Asia.

People behind the project are currently in active negotiations with the world's leading online universities as well as with Learning Management System (LMS) platform providers and other content creators, such as McGraw-Hill Education, Belouga, Minerva Schools at KGI/Minerva Project, City University of Hong Kong, edX, Udacity and iversity.

All local negotiations have been finalized and it is expected that Uzbekistan President Shavkat Mirziyoyev will sign the decree to establish the very first online university in Central Asia by the end of this year.

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Follow the author on Twitter: @FDolukhanov

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