Officials from the Republic of Kazakhstan and the University of Arizona Discuss Joint Initiatives in Higher Education

Nov. 10, 2021

Representatives from both government and education participated in talks aimed at strengthening and fostering collaboration between the University of Arizona and North Kazakhstan State University.


November 10, 2021---The University of Arizona recently hosted two delegations from the Republic of Kazakhstan to explore a partnership to advance public higher education in Kazakhstan. 

The first visit, on October 28, 2021 included Kazakhstan Ambassador Yerzhan Ashikbayev and the Consul General Azamat Abdraimov, of the Kazakhstan Consulate in San Francisco.  The delegation met with state officials, including Governor Doug Ducey, and spent a full day at the University of Arizona exploring the campus and discussing partnership possibilities with university leadership and faculty.

“This partnership between the University of Arizona and the Republic of Kazakhstan is an opportunity to create a unique and robust model of excellence in higher education, and I am very excited for this collaboration,” said University of Arizona President Robert C. Robbins. “I am looking forward to the completed project, which will showcase an internationally important university that will provide Kazakhstan’s young people and students from around the world with the skills, energy, creativity and innovation to fulfill their dreams.”

Kazakhstan is the world’s largest land-locked country and the 9th largest by land mass overall. The nation of 18.8 million people declared its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.

The ambassador’s visit to Arizona was followed in early November by a visit to the University of Arizona by Vice Minister of Education & Science Kuanysh Yergaliyev, Kazakhstan’s Deputy Governor of North Kazakhstan Oblast Gani Nygymetov, Rector of North Kazakhstan University Yerlan Shulanov, and other key representatives from government and higher education. 

The delegation toured the University of Arizona and met with campus and college leadership to discuss collaboration between the University of Arizona and North Kazakhstan State University (NKSU), a public university that sits near the country’s northern border with Russia.

During their visit the delegation met with over 40 university faculty and staff, including meetings with the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, College of Education, College of Engineering, Honors College, College of Humanities, College of Law, College of Medicine, College of Pharmacy, Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, College of Science, and the College of Social & Behavioral Sciences.

They also visited Arizona’s Laboratory of Tree Ring Research, the Bartlett Academic Success Center, the Student Success District and CATalyst Studio, the Richard F. Caris Mirror Lab, and the Health Sciences Innovation Building and Arizona Simulation Technology and Education Center (ASTEC).


Talks focused on a potential capacity building collaboration with North Kazakhstan University to help it become a model of academic excellence for public universities throughout Kazakhstan. North Kazakhstan State University, a public university established in 1937, is one of the oldest educational institutions in the country. Located in Petropavl, a city of just over 200,000 people near the northern border with Russia, NKSU enrolls over 7000 students annually in bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs.

Given its strategic position in the north of the country, its location in an important agricultural region, and its long-standing recognition as one of the country’s top public universities, NKSU is strategically positioned to continue to grow its regional and national influence and to have a lasting positive economic and social impact on Kazakhstan. “The leadership of North Kazakhstan is committed to making this project between our two communities successful,” said Deputy Governor Nygymetov.

Together, Arizona and NKSU are undertaking what Rector Shulanov called “an ambitious project to develop a model of excellence for state universities in Kazakhstan, that focuses on capacity building in the areas of curriculum, research, and faculty development.”

“We are excited about the energy and momentum driving this developing partnership with North Kazakhstan State University,” said Arizona’s Vice President for Global Affairs and Dean of Global Education Brent White.

“Supporting ongoing curriculum, pedagogy and research development in Kazakhstan will utilize the historical strengths of our university, and create opportunities that will engage both institutions,” White said.

In a July 2021 visit to Kazakhstan, University of Arizona leadership met with the Head of State to discuss a strategic partnership. During these talks, President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev stressed that Kazakhstan is committed to further developing its public universities to provide high-quality public education to students regardless of their economic ability to pay. He further stressed that the partnership between NKSU and the University of Arizona is of paramount importance for creating a model of excellence for public education in Kazakhstan.

Dialogue between the University of Arizona, the Kazakhstan Ministry of Education and NKSU about the contours of a partnership is ongoing.

“These visits,” said University of Arizona Provost Liesl Folks, “along with visits by University of Arizona leadership to Kazakhstan, signify a shared commitment by the Republic of Kazakhstan and the University of Arizona to empowering future generations of students and educators to be prepared to meet global challenges.”

“I’m looking forward to seeing this partnership develop, knowing that it will benefit both institutions and both nations as it evolves and grows future generations of students and faculty at both institutions,” Folks said.

Media contact:

Brent White
Vice President, Global Affairs
University of Arizona