Kazakh university students with C grades studying on state grants will retain stipends

ASTANA – The Ministry of Education and Science and the Kazakh League of Academic Integrity, which includes the country’s leading universities, proposed cancelling the older system of depriving Kazakh students from a monthly stipend for a “3” (the equivalent of “C” or “satisfactory”) grade during a Feb. 15 ministerial board meeting.

Photo credit: facultyfocus.com.

The league members believe the academic regulation that should support high performing students no longer serves its initial purpose. Instead, it is the main reason for the problem with grades considered to be too high. A recent analysis showed more than 55 percent of students receive “good” and “excellent” grades. In some classrooms, no student receives a lower grade.

The teaching faculty has a tendency to show empathy towards students, who often happen to be in critical financial situations, but such mercy results in artificially high-performance averages, according to KazGUU President Talgat Narikbayev.

“This situation creates an imaginary impression of the real achievements of students who, after completing their studies, are not able to compete in the real sectors of the economy,” he said.

He supports the new proposal, stressing a stipend “is mainly a means of social support for students.”

“This would allow introducing a median of grades in all higher educational institutions and teachers would more objectively evaluate the results of student work,” he added. “We expect all members of the League of Academic Integrity to fully implement the median of ratings by June 1, 2019.”

“In general, the idea of awarding scholarships regardless of academic performance is reasonable if it reduces corruption and increases the strictness of student assessment,” said Minister of Education and Science Yerlan Sagadiyev.

The ministry is also planning to support student volunteers with 1,000 tenge (US$2.65) per hour for their work, which, if applicable, might also be converted into academic credits. Students will receive additional payment for volunteering in inclusive education, tutoring (Kazakh and English language and computer literacy), working with children with deviant behaviour, organising sports clubs and being involved in social work with older people.

“We plan for students to be offered two types of vouchers: for two and five academic credits per semester, which is 20 or 50 hours,” said Sagadiyev.