About the University of Central Asia (UCA)

One University, Three Campuses

The University of Central Asia (UCA) was founded in 2000 as a private, not for profit, secular university through an International Treaty signed by the Presidents of the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, and Kazakhstan, and His Highness the Aga Khan; ratified by their respective parliaments, and registered with the United Nations. The Presidents are the Patrons of the University and His Highness is the Chancellor.

"By creating intellectual space and resources, the University will bring the power of education and human ingenuity to the economic and social challenges of mountain societies in Central Asia and elsewhere." His Highness the Aga Khan
Foundation Stone Ceremony for the UCA (Khorog, Tajikistan - 6 July 2004)

Located in scenic mountain settings, our campuses have world class academic and residential facilities. Nearby campus towns of Naryn, Kyrgyz Republic; Khorog, Tajikistan and Tekeli, Kazakhstan offer culturally and ecologically rich environments and communities.

UCA's campuses are deliberately located on the Silk Road, a historic trade and transportation route that facilitated the global exchange of goods, cultures and ideas. Each campus also lies within 150 miles of the contemporary economic and political powerhouse of China. By locating our campuses in mountain communities, UCA hopes to be at the heart of an intellectual and economic transformation.

UCA consists of:


UCA's mission is to promote the social and economic development of Central Asia, particularly its mountain communities, by offering an internationally recognised standard of higher education, and enabling the peoples of the region to preserve their rich cultural heritage as assets for the future.

UCA seeks to contribute leadership, ideas, and innovations to the transitioning economies and communities of the region through modern educational and vigorous research programmes that produce knowledgeable, skilled and creative graduates.

Education for a New Generation

UCA brings with it the commitment and partnership of the broader Aga Khan Development Network, offering an internationally recognised standard of higher education in Central Asia. UCA's conceptualisation and inception as a regional university is derived from recommendations set forth by the Commission on the Establishment of an International Institution of Higher Education, a panel comprised of distinguished international and regional members who met extensively from 1995 to 1998.

The Founders of UCA launched an ambitious and complex project responding to the need for new models of higher education institutions that strengthen Central Asian scholarship and attract international, regional, and local resources to enable the people of Central Asia to address their own economic and cultural challenges. UCA graduates will be empowered to contribute skills and leadership, as well as generate income and create jobs to enhance the participation of their communities in a global society. A core mandate of the University is to support Central Asians to enhance their roles as custodians of their environment and cultures to preserve and benefit from them.

The development of an international institution of higher learning - with an innovative curriculum to be taught in English and purpose built residential campuses in remote and mountainous locations - requires exceptional investments in planning, design, and implementation, as well as immense cooperation from all interested parties. Since its inception, UCA has made steady and important progress. With the generous support of His Highness the Aga Khan, the University has invested significant resources in all aspects of development including: securing land, developing a facilities plan, selection of architects and planners, designing campus buildings, conducting site investigations and site preparation works, and developing academic degree programmes. The School of Professional and Continuing Education, the Aga Khan Humanities Project, and the Research Programme are operational and contributing to the expanding learning opportunities in the region. In addition, UCA is proactively building its human resource and financial capacity to ensure that its contribution to social and economic growth in Central Asia can be sustained for generations to come.


  • UCA will be governed by a Board of Trustees to be appointed by the Chancellor and Patrons of the University.
  • Dr. Shamsh Kassim-Lakha Chairman of the UCA Board of Trustees is leading the planning and building of UCA's three campuses in Tajikistan, the Kyrgyz Republic and Kazakhstan.
  • The Management Executive Committee oversees the University's broad scale of operations, from academics and research to administration and construction.


UCA is an international endeavour built on partnerships that promote the exchange of information and resources, the creation of opportunities, and the promotion of excellence in higher education within and beyond Central Asia. Our partnerships cross political borders and sectors. Generous financial support from the region's governments, the international donor community, philanthropists, and His Highness the Aga Khan and have enabled the University to undertake this most unique aim.

The following institutional partners contributed financially or materially to UCA's programmes and curriculum. Many more contributed practically and intellectually to its work. All of these contributions are gratefully acknowledged.

Academic Partners

Funding Partners

  • Aga Khan Development Network
  • Asian Development Bank
  • Asian Institute of Technology
  • British Council
  • Bundesministerium für Wirtschaftliche Zusammenarbeit und Entwicklung (BMZ)
  • Canadian International Development Agency
  • Carleton University
  • Certified International Professional Accountant Examination Network (CIPA-EN)
  • Cornell University
  • DAMU National Enterprise Development Foundation
  • Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (UK)
  • Deutscher Akademischer Austausch Dienst (DAAD)
  • European Commission
  • Flora and Fauna International
  • Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ)
  • Government of France
  • Government of Norway
  • Government of Kazakhstan
  • Government of Kyrgyz Republic
  • Government of Tajikistan
  • Indian Council on Cultural Relations
  • International Computer Driving Licence (ICDL)
  • Japan International Cooperation Agency
  • London Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI)
  • Mountain Partnership
  • Michigan State University
  • National University of Singapore
  • National Centre for Competency in Research North-South (NCCR-NS)
  • Nur Foundation
  • Open Society Institute
  • Peace Corps
  • Seneca College
  • Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation
  • The Christensen Fund
  • The World Bank
  • United Nations Environment Programme
  • United States Agency for International Development (USAID)
  • United States Department of Agriculture
  • United States Department of State
  • University of Alberta
  • University of Bern
  • University of British Columbia
  • University of Cambridge
  • University of Exeter
  • University of Manchester
  • University of Ottawa
  • University of Toronto
  • University of Victoria
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