The landlocked, mountainous nation of Kyrgyzstan, officially known as the Kyrgyz Republic, is located between China and Uzbekistan, with Kazakhstan to the north and Tajikistan to the south. Its mountainous terrain has isolated it from the world, helping to preserve its 2,000-year-old culture. The national language, Kyrgyz, and the dominant religion, Islam, stem from contact with Muslim Turkic traders as early as the 7th century. The nation became part of the Russian Empire in 1876 and did not gain its independence until 1991, and Russian is still widely spoken in the region. Kyrgyzstan is now a unitary parliamentary republic, although political and ethnic conflicts continue to plague the nation.
Higher education in Kyrgyzstan consists of 37 state run and 18 private institutions, which includes universities, academies, specialized HEIs and institutes. Not all institutions offer the opportunity to study business in Kyrgyzstan, and not all have received international accreditation, however, the Ministry of Education is working to increase the number of programs recognized by the international educational community.
While the specific dates vary by program, in general the academic year in Kyrgyzstan begins on the first of September and continues until early June. The year includes two semesters that are 17–18 weeks long for undergraduates and 15–16 weeks long for post-graduates, with days off for religious and national holidays and exam preparation.
The cost of higher education in Kyrgyzstan varies depending on the school chosen. In general, private institutions are about 25 percent more expensive than public ones. Few students receive government scholarships, and no scholarships are offered for master’s level students. International students can expect to pay higher tuition regardless of the school. However, tuition and cost of living expenses are modest when compared to the expense of higher education in other parts of Europe and Asia.
Students can typically earn a Bakalavr, or bachelor’s degree, in four years, which is required before pursuing a Magistr, or master’s degree. Universities may also offer a specialist degree but these are not recognized internationally. Students may choose to study part-time, which can be less expensive but extend the time to graduation.
While the culture of Kyrgyzstan is thousands of years old, as an independent nation it is quite young. The government appears committed to continuing the transition to a market economy, and a great deal of emphasis is being placed on improving and globalizing their educational system by attracting high quality educators and forming partnerships with universities around the world. Students who study business in Kyrgyzstan have the opportunity to experience a unique culture and landscape, and to join a nation poised for growth and prosperity.