Nazarbayev University calls for international applicants, seeks to diversify student body

ASTANA – Nazarbayev University (NU) is committed to becoming a leading research university recognised internationally. One of its main priorities is promoting international diversity and academic mobility. With admissions underway, NU is calling for international applicants to diversify its student body and promote cultural exchange.

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“Internationalisation is a global trend in higher education and NU makes every effort to follow the trend. The university aims to become a world-class international research university. Our faculty is already international, as there are more than 450 professors from 55 countries. However, the student body is still not diverse. Therefore, we are interested in international recruitment so our students can experience intercultural communication,” said director of NU’s International Cooperation Department Aliya Kaymoldinova.

To date, there are 25 international students at NU from 13 countries.

“Initially our main task was to gather the best talents across Kazakhstan, however we were able to attract best talents not only from Kazakhstan, but from overseas as well. We assume that quality education ensured by our strategic partners was a main decision-making factor for our international students to choose NU. They come from neighbouring countries, namely Russia, China, Mongolia, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. There are also students from distant areas, such as the U.S., Mexico, Bangladesh, Iran and Nepal,” she added.

“Currently, in accordance with our internationalisation strategy, during recruitment we mainly focus on Central Asian countries, China, India and ASEAN member states,” noted NU Admissions senior manager  Gulden Shokatova.

Nazarbayev University offers wide variety of undergraduate and graduate programs in science, engineering and mining and all of them are in demand of international applicants.

NU has 19 undergraduate programmes at four schools: the School of Humanities and Social Sciences (SHSS), School of Engineering (SEng), School of Science and Technology (SST) and School of Mining and Geosciences (SMG).

There are also 24 master’s programmes offered by those four schools and also the Graduate School of Public Policy (GSPP), Graduate School of Business (GSB) and Graduate School of Education (GSE).

Developing research, University established PhD programs in Education, Public Policy, Science, Engineering and Technology. There is also Medical Doctor program in School of Medicine.

Apart from undergraduate and graduate programmes, NU also offers NUFYP, the Nazarbayev University Foundation Year Programme, a one-year programme meant to prepare students for rigorous academic studies. Although the deadline for state-funded scholarships passed, application for fee-paying education is still open until June 8.

Different programmes have different application deadlines and for some the admissions process is still underway.

“GSPP and GSB have finished the application process. As of today, there are four international applicants for those programmes and more than 100 across all programmes,” said Shokatova.

The deadline for applications for the School of Engineering and School of Science and Technology is open until June 1, so there is still time to apply. More detailed information about programmes at NU, admission deadlines and requirements is available at

Recruitment team regularly attends educational fairs abroad to present NU and promote academic programs.

“For this year, we are planning to visit about 15 educational fairs. Half of them we have already attended as spring recruitment is almost done. For the next year we will have to reconsider the plans based on the application results of this year,” noted Shokatova.

NU offers comfortable conditions for international students to study and live in Astana. Moreover, there are several financial aid opportunities available.

“We have a separate team working on international students’ recruitment and admissions. We are thinking about a number of measures to create comfortable conditions for international students. For now, there is a small number of state scholarships and the special Abai Kunanbayev NU scholarship, which is merit-based and covers only tuition fees. There are also discounts for undergraduate students. For example, oralmen, ethnic Kazakhs returning to the homeland, can get a 40 percent discount,” said Kaymoldinova.

“We also provide competitive social packages for doctoral candidates. To be specific, this year we have decided to give all candidates tuition fee waivers, provide them with monthly teaching or research allowances and accommodate them on campus. It is important to support doctoral candidates as they mostly come with their families,” she added.

All applicants can apply for financial aid after they have been shortlisted and recommended for admission.

The Admissions Department first reviews all the applications to ensure that a candidate meets minimum entry requirements and prepares applicant packages for the Admissions Committees of each school for their consideration.

“We also make sure that an applicant is very ambitious and motivated to study at NU. However, admissions to our university are, first of all, merit based. We consider the scores of entry examinations, such as the NUFYPET, [the International English Language Testing System] and international standardised tests, IELTS, TOEFL, GMAT and SAT. For candidates applying to graduate programmes, each school has their own admission requirements,” said Shokatova.

Once an international student is admitted, University provides visa support and information about the city. While attending the university, international students, who are required to have medical insurance, can use the University Medical Centre (UMC) on campus for medical treatment and the Career and Advising Centre (CAC) for workshops and job opportunities on campus.

Apart from international recruitment, another scope of work in terms of international cooperation is academic exchange.

“Several schools provide for academic summer semesters abroad at partner-universities. Some programmes have international residency as a part of their curriculum. Our doctoral candidates are even required to have research international semester,” added Kaymoldinova.

The Internal Cooperation Department is working on increasing the number of exchange programmes.

“We work on the Erasmus+ exchange programme to send our students to Europe for one semester. As of today, we have a successful programme with the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy as four of our students from GSPP went to study in Singapore for a semester and four students from there spent a semester here at NU,” she noted.









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