A meeting was held to discuss new financing mechanisms of higher education institutions under the chairmanship of Ramiz Mehdiyev, the chair of the Education Commission under the president of the Republic of Azerbaijan and the head of the Presidential Administration of Azerbaijan.
Delivering an opening speech, R. Mehdiyev informed participants about the execution of President Ilham Aliyev’s order on “Application of New Financing Mechanisms in Higher Education Institutions” issued on February 10, 2010. While talking about the works carried out as per the order, R. Mehdiyev stated that starting from the current year, the financing in higher education institutions would be addressed toward each student.
The participants of the meeting were told that, under the special paragraph of the Decree, the Ministries of Finance, Economic Development, and Education, by studying the experience of the foreign countries in the educational sphere, prepared and presented the draft normative legal acts, reflecting the financing mechanism per capita in the higher education facilities of the republic, to the Cabinet of Ministers within two months. Based on these proposals, the Cabinet of Ministers prepared an appropriate draft decision. The draft determined the education expenses of the specialists in different specializations to be qualified in undergraduate and master's degrees by the order of the government.
Aside from this, in connection with the application of the new financing mechanism in the higher education facilities, the Cabinet of Ministers prepared the financing rules for training of specialists in undergraduate and master's degrees by the order of the government. Some of the main points of the draft project were revealed to the participants of the meeting.
Minister of Education Misir Mardanov briefed about the work done by the ministry for the implementation of the Decree. He said the new financing rules would be applied in 29 state-run universities and 8 private universities from the current year. One state-run, six specialized, and eight private institutions would not participate in the implementation of the state order. Giving information about various specialties and institutions, Misir Mardanov expressed his confidence that such mechanism would produce positive results in the development of education.
Chairperson of State Students Admission Commission Maleyka Abbaszadeh gave information about the current year's admission rules. Based on the estimations of the results of the previous tests, Abbaszadeh stated that in order to ensure high level competition, very well-prepared graduates are expected to partake in the admission process. According to her, the analysis of the application for various groups shows that along with the current year's graduates, alumni of the previous year would also take exams. Maleyka Abbaszadeh said proper changes were made in the admission rules in connection with the application of the new financing mechanism and necessary program provision was prepared in order to implement the new admission process.
Finance Minister Samir Sharifov highly assessed the Decree as well, regarding it as a progressive step for formation of common development of education and a rivalry atmosphere. He said that the new financing mechanism would be applied only to freshmen. The minister gave detailed information on problems due to passing into new financing mechanism, told presidents of the universities that per capita financing gave good opportunity to all higher education facilities to gain total autonomy.
Minister of Economic Development Shahin Mustafayev spoke about Ministry's prognoses on preparation of high-level specialists conforming to the development strategy of the country. Noting that such prognoses would be more organized in next years, he said that per capita financing was a remarkable fact for education system as a whole.
Speaking at the meeting, the rector of the Azerbaijan Art Academy Omar Eldarov, rector of Baku State University Abel Maharramov, rector of Azerbaijan State Economic University Shamsaddin Hajiyev, rector of Khazar University Hamlet Isakhanly, rector of the Azerbaijan Institute of Tourism Jafar Jafarov, rector of Azerbaijan University of Teachers Agia Nakhchivanli, noted that application of new financing mechanism was a very positive case and would positively affect the increase of the quality of the education.
Summing up the conference, Ramiz Mehdiyev noted that though Azerbaijan was one of the countries developing dynamically, it was in need of highly skilled specialists. However, examinations held for admission to state service, as well as tests held by appropriate companies had demonstrated that standard of knowledge of graduates did not meet the demands of the time. All these problems show existing flows in the activity of higher education facilities. One of the main problems is that educational staff is aging quickly and there are not enough young people to establish European education standards in Azerbaijan.
According to Ramiz Mehdiyev, though all higher education facilities announced their joining to Bologna process, only very few changes have been reflected in their programs that are remnants of the Soviet period. Most of the students are not able to demonstrate enough knowledge meeting standards of international test systems in English language and informatics. These are clear evidences of negative cases existing in higher education facilities.
“Investigation of Professional Licensing Board's work shows that the number of presented dissertations for gaining an academic degree is increasing continuously. However, we rarely come across articles of scholars working in Azerbaijan's education system in world-known scholarly journals. Furthermore, we still have not witnessed the necessary turning point with regards to teaching of public sciences in universities.
Closing the meeting, Ramiz Mehdiyev also talked about the future tasks in education.