Bulat Utemuratov Driver Of Quality


Bulat Utemuratov – a driver of quality changes in education in Kazakhstan

Kazakhstani Forbes names Bulat Utemuratov as one of the biggest private investors of the country. It should be noted that alongside with successful business projects Bulat Utemuratov is actively involved in social ones, aimed at the quality changes in quite diverse sectors. Public work of Bulat Utemuratov touches upon healthcare, sports, culture and arts, and of course education. Thanks to the powerful investment support, it is the Narxoz University and Haileybury Schools that have an opportunity to become the centers of pulsation of fresh ideas in Kazakhstan.

As for Bulat Utemuratov, he finished a secondary school in Kzylorda and set off for the Almaty Institute of National Economy to get his higher education. Having graduated from the institute he lectured there in economics for about a year. Having left lecturing he started building his career, and found many answers in practice. He immediately understood the value of good education as an investment in the future, which is why he always paid attention to opportunities for implementing educational projects in the country.

Having analysed the in-country situation, Bulat Utemuratov decided to develop and improve education in Kazakhstan. The large-scale reform of the Narxoz University and the launch of private British partner schools Haileybury were implemented through the efforts of the Verny Capital group of companies, which supports these educational institutions through the corporate social responsibility programme.

Oxford, Harvard, Narxoz 

Bulat Utemuratov returned to his alma mater in the role of a successful businessman, diplomat and politician in 2006 when Verny Capital has acquired 35% of shares of the Kazakh University of Economics named after Turner Ryskulov. The share of Verny has increased up to 58% within three years and has been comprising 100% since 2011.

The University was in the depression when the reformation programme started. Lack of financing and large-scale corruption exhausted the University’s resources: all departments suffered from the shortage of skilled staff and lack of proper logistical support. The University did not make it to the top lines of the country’s educational institutions ratings and was sweepingly losing traction among applicants.

The new team did not stay idle and started to radically change the current standing. They set a course for the essential improvement of the quality of teaching, mastering and introducing the best world practices and propelling the University to the status of the flagship of economic and business education in Kazakhstan. Bulat Utemuratov announced the decision to start overarching changes from the launch of a comprehensive programme to improve the University corporate management. A system of financial discipline and improvement of the institution management efficiency was developed, based on modern business models. This empowered elimination of the corruption element and staff motivation.

The next step was to set up the University’s facilities and resources in compliance with the European standards. The stadium, residence hall, canteen and all lecture halls were renovated. A new, ultramodern swimming pool was built; furniture and computer equipment was purchased. Shareholders are committed to make the University comfortable, stylish and attractive. In parallel with this, a concept of promoting the University on Internet was developed, a logo was designed, and a full-fledged website and social media accounts were launched. On 17 September 2008 the Turar Ryskulov University of Economics signed the Magna Carta Universitatum that gave birth to implementation of academic mobility programmes. The same year the University launched an e-learning system. There is an endowment fund where the Narxoz graduates of various generations help talented students from low-income families and support the University lecturers and projects. Speaking at the endowment fund opening, Bulat Utemuratov said that every million tenge donated by graduates will be complemented by one more million from his own assets. The initiative was highly welcomed, and on the very first day Serik Primbetov, Kazakhstani statesman and diplomat, contributed 1 mln tenge to the fund.

Involvement of the best teachers was the third stage of changes. The University faculty staff got the opportunity to undergo training abroad for adopting the experience of foreign colleagues. At the end of 2014 the New Turar Ryskulov University of Economics got a new rector - Krzysztof Rybinski, former Vice-President of the National Bank of Poland. He gave an impetus to the new strategy of the University development with a view of bringing this educational institution to the leading positions in Central Asia. In 2016 the University was re-incorporated as the JSC Narxoz University. The University also became home for the International Business School (IBS) and the business incubator MOST which are platforms for innovation business projects, business research and training of new MBA cadre.

Andrew Wachtel, the member of the US Academy of Science, became the rector of Narxoz in 2018. He is a Harvard graduate and the head of the Association of American International Colleges and Universities. With his appointment, it is planned to essentially revise approaches to teaching and to modernize the University buildings.

Applicants to Bachelor’s programmes can be eligible for the Narxoz University grants. Partners of the University – the Verny Capital group and FirstBank support talented and promising applicants and grant 100 scholarships annually. Thus, young people who cannot pay for their education in a private university now have an opportunity to get quality higher education. The idea of this scheme is to raise a new generation of economists and brainy managers who will take on leading roles in the near future. The scholarships fully cover education expenses.

In addition, Bulat Utemuratov’s personal scholarships “Future Business Leaders” are granted to the brightest students who win the Narxoz Challenge competitive admission. Each scholarship covers costs of 4-year education and the opportunity to annually participate in the Summer School abroad. The Narxoz University scholars are taught according to an individual special programme. Every student who won the scholarship is assigned a mentor out of the entrepreneurs cooperating with the MOST business incubator located in the University.

Bulat Utemuratov regularly visits the University to talk to students and to watch presentations of the most promising projects. For 10 years of his curatorship of Narxoz, the University has got over 40 mln dollars of investments. The businessman emphasises that transformational changes in this educational institution are a marathon which may require a lot more investments.

Those wonderful school days

This year marks the tenth anniversary of the Haileybury Almaty School set up by Bulat Utemuratov jointly with initiative entrepreneurs of Kazakhstan. It’s a British school in Kazakhstan partnering with the Haileybury and Imperial College in the UK. The history of Haileybury dates back 150 years of rewarding work, the school enjoys the highest authority in the world. The school in Almaty became the first one in the territory of the former Soviet Union countries.  Getting on the Haileybury and Imperial College’s good side became possible due in no small part to Bulat Utemuratov’s active efforts in education, culture and health care sectors. In 2011 Haileybury Astana was opened.
The schools are a charity project; philanthropists allocated over 50 million dollars for their construction and operation. Profit from the work of Haileybury is spent for the school development and internal expenses only.  The school offers quality education according to the British independent schooling system. Curricula are based on those adopted in England and Wales; they are adjusted to the facts of life in Kazakhstan and children’s needs. The five stage scheme suggests education starting at 4 and finishing at 18 years. The language of instruction is English. 

Like with the Narxoz University, Bulat Utemuratov pays a lot of attention to the teachers’ professional level. For example, Haileybury Almaty employs 60 teachers from the UK who have been selected rigorously. There are also local teachers there, they teach the Kazakh language and the history of Kazakhstan. Haileybury supports bright pupils whose financial situation does not allow to study on the fee paid basis. They are granted 10 scholarships annually. As of May 2018, the schools have about 1,200 pupils.

The logistical support of the school complies with the European standards. Patrons of the project, including Bulat Utemuratov, keep a close eye on this. Musical classrooms have instruments that suit any taste: from a dombra to a drum set. There is a small recording studio. An Olympic swimming pool is equipped for physical culture lessons, in winter children go skiing at the Shymbulak ski resort.
In March 2018 the Haileybury Astana School hosted an official opening of the Centre of International Bachelor’s Diploma Programme (IDBP). Now the school leavers will be able to be admitted to over 2,000 universities all over the world without exams as this programme is recognised by leading higher education institutions, such as Harvard, Princeton, and Cambridge.

Pupils and school leavers of Haileybury in Kazakhstan already demonstrate high achievements. In October 2017 the Haileybury Astana pupils won prizes in the autumn round of the fifth tournament of the “Maths Without Borders” Academic Olympics held in Bulgaria among 16,000 schoolchildren from 21 countries. At the turn of the year the school team also took part in the international maths competition COBIS Maths Challenge taking the eighth place. In November 2017 twelve schoolchildren won 5 gold and 15 silver (individual and team) medals in the World Scholar’s Cup international competition held at the Yale University. Outstanding academic achievements of school leaver Vladimir Kisselyov won him a grant amounting 25,000 dollars a year from the Polytechnic Institute of New York University.

But the main value taught in the schools and supported by Bulat Utemuratov is responsibility of young citizens and respect for each other. Investments in education made by the businessman prove his strive to bring Kazakhstan up to the world level.

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