New Uzbekistan UniversityA bold vision for higher education in Central Asia

A bold vision for higher education in Central Asia

At New Uzbekistan University, educational reforms will foster the innovative and entrepreneurial mindset demanded of the modern workforce

Uzbekistan is prioritising education, science and research for the development of the country and its young population. As Uzbekistan’s education and research sectors mature, there is an opportunity for academics to make a lasting impact on the country’s future, contribute to its growth and be a part of a transformative journey.

Wolfgang Herrmann, honorary president of New Uzbekistan University (NewUU) and an academic with decades of experience in the higher education space, has witnessed first-hand the great strides that Uzbekistan has made. “I am convinced that the initiative that the president of the Republic of Uzbekistan is spearheading – and which gained a major boost with the establishment of NewUU in 2021 – will be a success,” Herrmann says. “The university was created to serve as a flagship institution of tertiary education in Uzbekistan, providing students with modern and comprehensive education and activating the talents that this country has to offer.”

The establishment of NewUU is a major milestone for the country’s entire education system, with president Shavkat Mirziyoyev launching a programme to remodel and improve the secondary school system in Uzbekistan, using Western standards as a guide. It is hoped this development will pay dividends across higher education and beyond.

“NewUU offers a range of programmes designed to meet the needs of students with different backgrounds and diverse career aspirations,” Herrmann says. “The university places great emphasis on interdisciplinary teaching, bringing together experts from various fields to provide a comprehensive education that prepares students for the challenges of the real world.”

With the traditional boundaries between disciplines set to be eroded at universities around the world, NewUU’s programmes are designed to equip graduates with the skills and competencies to thrive in the workplace, whether they choose to pursue industry, academia or entrepreneurship. “NewUU is committed to serving society through innovative solutions and cutting-edge research,” Herrmann says. “In doing so, NewUU places great value on collaboration with industry partners and has recently established an industrial advisory board.”

According to Herrmann, NewUU stands as a testament to the government’s commitment to investing in education and Uzbekistan’s future. The country is rich in resources, including gold, silver, copper and many other metals, which could help to fund a future-looking economic strategy. “Given the country’s substantial resources, taking the money derived from these and investing in young talent is a great way of safeguarding the country’s future,” Herrmann explains. “Uzbekistan is an important country in central Asia and the geopolitical situation suggests that this importance will only grow in the future.”

Despite only being founded in 2021, NewUU has many ambitions for the future. These include the catalysation of economic growth through education, setting new international benchmarks of modern university education and research, and introducing spin-offs from research. “The Technical University of Munich [TUM] produces around 100 spin-offs a year,” Herrmann says. “Some of these spin-offs have developed into billion-dollar businesses. Of course, it will take some time for Uzbekistan to achieve these heights, but the entrepreneurial ethos being embodied by institutions such as NewUU stands the country in good stead.”

Part of NewUU’s long-term vision involves the creation of international connections with other leading institutions around the world. This will make Uzbekistan’s talent more visible, as NewUU sends its students to partner institutions and its graduates achieve global impact in various industries. NewUU aims to become an integral participant in the academic exchange programmes that are so important for young people’s development – in terms not only of their academic knowledge but also of their cultural values.

“NewUU will become a driving force in the Uzbek economy by fostering an entrepreneurial mindset among its students,” Herrmann says. “As an independent institution, NewUU seeks to advance global knowledge through interdisciplinary teaching, bringing together experts from various fields and integrating theoretical knowledge with practical experience. This is one of the success stories of Western technological universities such as TUM, Imperial College London and others.”

Research is also a key focus at NewUU and, here, the interaction between the university and industry partners is driving innovation and contributing to the economic growth of the entire country. Although countries such as Uzbekistan, as well as the central Asia region generally, might have seemed incredibly distant to Western audiences until relatively recently, modern technologies have brought these places much closer, allowing them to take part in the creation of fascinating new ideas that can have worldwide impact.

“NewUU has done extremely well despite being relatively new,” Herrmann says. “The university has already faced several challenges and made significant strides in its short existence. One of the challenges that affected the entire sector was the Covid-19 pandemic, which forced universities around the world to pivot to remote learning. Crucially, Covid was a chance for greater equilibrium between new and old universities.”

Another challenge faced by NewUU was the need to establish itself as a leading institution in Uzbekistan. There was competition in this regard, of course, but with the right government support NewUU is now aiming to serve as a role model for existing universities in the country.

“NewUU has worked hard to attract top faculty and develop a rigorous academic programme,” Herrmann says. “The university is committed to the selection of students according to fair principles and objective criteria. Despite its challenges, progress at NewUU has been significant. The university has also evolved with changing circumstances and demands, including creating new academic programmes to meet the needs of a growing Uzbek economy.”

Looking to the future, NewUU sees research as a key focus. To establish a leading university that is recognised by the academic community, you need to present accurate, peer-reviewed scientific research. “NewUU has begun investing heavily in research and development, starting with modern laboratories, with the aim of creating an environment that encourages collaboration with researchers from different disciplines and countries,” Herrmann says. “In addition to research, NewUU plans to expand its academic programmes, with a current emphasis on disciplines such as engineering, business and social sciences. The university plans to introduce new programmes in areas such as artificial intelligence, data science and renewable energy.”

NewUU’s aims will provide students with the skills and knowledge to succeed in the 21st-century workforce. By fostering entrepreneurship and partnering with other leading higher education institutions, NewUU has a bright future ahead. “These plans might be ambitious, particularly for such a young institution,” Herrmann says. “But although they might be bold, they are realistic.”

Find out more about New Uzbekistan University.

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