According to the Center for International Programs, about 1.1 million Kazakhstani citizens are currently students of colleges and universities, including about 100,000 Kazakhstanis studying abroad.
"In September 2016, the functions of the Center for International Programs were significantly expanded. Earlier the Center only dealt with the administration of the Bolashak International Scholarship, at present, tasks have been added to implement intergovernmental agreements, the development of educational scholarship programs abroad, as well as the internationalization of Kazakhstan's education," Meldeshov said.
The number of grants allocated under intergovernmental agreements has increased 2.6 times since 2016 (from 171 to 890 in 2018). One of the most important tasks of the Center is to assist graduates of schools, colleges and universities in obtaining quality free education in the leading universities of the world. Thus, as a result of direct negotiations with foreign universities this year, about 20,000 grants have been attracted to citizens of Kazakhstan in countries such as Germany, France, Spain, Italy, the Czech Republic, China, Korea, Malaysia, etc. By the end of the next academic year, it is planned to increase the number of grants to 40,000.
Meldeshov said that in order to inform the people of Kazakhstan about the opportunities and conditions for studying abroad, the Center has been holding the International Education Fair since 2017. In November this year it is planned to hold four exhibitions in Astana, Almaty, Shymkent and Atyrau, in which more than 200 leading universities of the world will take part.
In addition, as the head of the Center noted, an important task is the internationalization of Kazakhstan's education, the so-called educational hub. In order to attract foreign students to enter Kazakhstan universities in 2017, exhibitions "Days of Education in Kazakhstan" were held in the countries of Central Asia, China and India. This year similar exhibitions were held in Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. As a result, the number of foreign citizens studying in Kazakhstani universities increased to 14,000 people. In the academic year 2018/19 it is planned to bring this figure to 20,000.
Answering journalists' questions about employment of Bolashak graduates, Meldeshov stressed that more than 99% of the graduates of the Bolashak program are employed, they are in great demand among employers.
As for their impact, the Center's head explains, it is very difficult to assess the real contribution of each. For example, according to the World Bank, $1 invested in a foreign education, subsequently brings $15 return. The head of the Center also cited the graduates of the program working in the medical field as an example.
"At present there are 32 Bolashak graduates who work in cardiosurgery. They conducted 32,000 complex operations. If the savings from each operation are $3000, then it is not difficult to calculate what the total is. Another important thing is that before the implementation of the Bolashak program in Kazakhstan, the mortality from cardiovascular diseases was in the first place, but now — the third. And this is one of the concrete results of the program," Meldeshov stressed.
According to him, the greatest contribution the Bolashak graduates make to the development of health care, education and science. About 400 graduates of the program currently work in the laboratories of the Nazarbayev University. Experts in the IT sphere, cyber security and other new areas will be in demand in the coming years.