Lack of housing, leisure facilities holding back Baku State University

Fri 10 Dec 2010 07:47 GMT | 11:47 Local Time

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News.Az interviews Abel Maharramov, rector of Baku State University and an MP from the ruling New Azerbaijan Party.

What is your view of the International Institute of Academic Perspectives' ranking of the best universities of the world, which put Baku State University in 1,951st place?

Baku State University outstripped all other universities of the South Caucasus because of our university's scientific potential and the high level of education. However, Baku State University is lagging behind in other parameters - the availability of sports complexes, canteens, hostels, leisure and other educational facilities. European teaching methodology pays attention to quality of life and student leisure outside the lecture halls as well as to science and education standards. The living conditions created for students in hostels are taken into account. According to calculations at universities worldwide, 30-50% students live in hostels and hostels are an integral part of student life. Education in Azerbaijan is developing, and radical reforms and major programs are under way.

Why did Baku State University come near the bottom of the 2,000 universities ranked?

As I said, the lack of hostels played a negative role for Baku State University in the rating. Though 1,500 foreign students study at Baku State University, we are unable to provide them with accommodation in hostels, since some 8,000 refugee families live in our hostels. However, these families will soon be moved to other accommodation and then the hostels will be made ready for students. As a result, Baku State University will climb up the rating.

Meanwhile, it should be noted that Baku State University is probably the only university in the South Caucasus that is relatively advanced in the ranking. For example, Baku State University is even ahead of Kiev State University.

We believe our efforts will push Baku State University into the top 500 most prestigious universities in the world. We are taking effective action on this, including the creation of the technology park. This project, which envisages the application of science to industry, has already been submitted for consideration to the Presidential Administration. Baku State University has a great chance of getting into the top 300 universities in the world if these projects are seen through.

Do you agree with the International Institute's recommendations that Baku State University should be more persistent in applying the Bologna system?

We certainly are quite persistent on this, but we can see differences in values. For example, the Bologna process envisages two semesters, that is 36, or 70 academic hours for English language in higher education. But it should be taken into account that the majority of the countries taking part in the Bologna system conduct their education in English in secondary schools. However, we study in our native language. How can we study a foreign language for 70 hours? Therefore, this year we demanded that English be taught from the first to the fifth year at Baku State University. This is our commitment to the Bologna system.

At the same time, we should not apply the Bologna system as dogma in Azerbaijani education. We are ready to integrate with the Bologna system but with the preservation of national and moral values.

Does Baku State University have plans to tackle shortcomings indicated by the rating's authors?

Action to improve Baku State University's ranking includes the preparation and release of news about Baku State University in English and the creation of groups to study English in all university faculties from 1 January 2011. Only 40% of the Baku State University's 16 faculties have groups to study English. From the new year 18,000 students in 16 faculties will be able to attend these groups. In addition, we are applying other educational projects, in particular, student participation in applications for international grants.

I repeat that this is all about improving the international ranking of Baku State University.




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