The British Council invited me to participate in a roundtable as part of their Study UK Fair 2019. The discussion took place in the beautiful Youth Creativity Palace in the center of Tashkent. “Transnational education” means an educational program that is delivered in a country other than the awarding institution is based. Transnational education is a growing trend in higher education with universities setting up schools in a range of countries. For example, Westminster University (UK) and Webster University (USA) have programs here in Tashkent.
The roundtable started with a presentation by an education minister. He talked about the education reforms taking place in Uzbekistan. The big issue here is a demographic one, with 37% of the population under that age of 19. There are a lot of young people coming up through the school system requiring higher education and jobs. For example, last year over 1 million students applied for only 100,000 places in local universities. The demand here is overwhelming the supply. The British Council is promoting UK higher education and it is the second most popular destination for university study after the USA. Some of the educational reforms taking place here in improving vocational education, creating Presidential Schools that teach STEAM through the medium of English, raising scores into the Top 30 of PISA and revising the university credit system to match international standards. With an economy growing at over 5% per year, it is an exciting time to be here.
There were probably 50 people around the table and most being in education, they love talking. It was difficult to get a word in, but I did get a chance to make one comment that gave the perspective of foreign families living in Tashkent and university admission trends for our school. More of our families are choosing to study in the Netherlands because of the high quality of education, low cost and ease of visa and living in the country. The Netherlands is smart to try to attract foreign students to their country in a time of Brexit and anti-immigration sentiment in the USA, more students are looking elsewhere for higher education in English.