Frequently Asked Questions about the University of Central Asia (UCA)

1What is UCA?
Founded in 2000, UCA is the world’s first internationally chartered institution of higher education. UCA will offer rigorous and internationally recognized degree and non-degree courses on its three residential campuses in Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, and Tajikistan.

2Why was UCA Created?
UCA was created to offer an internationally recognized standard of higher education and create knowledgeable, skilled and creative graduates who will contribute leadership, ideas and innovations to the region. UCA programmes focus on key social and economic issues facing the region and particularly, mountain communities.

The mission of UCA is to promote the socio-economic development of Central Asia’s mountain societies, while at the same time helping the diverse peoples of the region to preserve and draw upon their rich cultural traditions and heritages as assets for the future.

3Where will UCA be located? Why?
UCA’s three campuses will be in Tekeli, Kazakhstan; Naryn, Kyrgyz Republic; and Khorog, Tajikistan. These sites were selected because they are hubs of substantial mountain communities at regional crossroads.

4 Who will attend UCA?
Most UCA students will come from the mountain communities surrounding each of the three campuses, and others will come from communities all over Central Asia including Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, China, and other neighboring countries. As we establish ourselves as a centre for regional and mountain studies, UCA will also attract scholars of Central Asian studies and culture from around the world. Through our School of Continuing and Professional Education and our Distance Education Programme, UCA expects to reach students beyond the borders of our host communities and countries.

5What kind of courses will UCA offer?
UCA will offer internationally recognized undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degree courses. It will also offer non-degree preparatory courses for incoming degree candidates, and vocational, professional development and distance education courses for students and professionals beyond the three UCA campuses.

6 Who are the Founders of UCA?
An International Treaty and Charter establishing UCA was signed by His Highness the Aga Khan and the Governments of Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, and Tajikistan, ratified by their parliaments and registered with the United Nations. The Presidents of each country are the Patrons and His Highness the Aga Khan is the Founding Patron and Chancellor of UCA. UCA is a private, independent, self-governing institution which will be governed by a fully independent Board of Trustees and led by a Rector.

7 Who is His Highness the Aga Khan?
His Highness the Aga Khan, a direct lineal descendant of the Prophet Muhammad, through his daughter Fatima and her husband Ali bin Abu Talib, the Prophet’s cousin, is the 49th hereditary Imam, or spiritual leader of the Shia Ismaili Muslim community. The Ismailis are a culturally diverse community spread across the globe, including South and Central Asia, China, the Middle East, Iran, Sub-Saharan Africa, Western Europe and North America. A statesman and philanthropist, His Highness the Aga Khan represents a centuries-old tradition of leadership associated with his office to encourage human development through individual self-fulfillment as the key to social harmony and progress. The Aga Khan is the founder and Chancellor of The Aga Khan University (AKU) in Karachi, Pakistan, the first private university in the country. Founded in 1983, AKU is now a thriving academic and training institution with a range of facilities and programmes. His Highness the Aga Khan is also the founder of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN).

8 What is AKDN and how does it relate to UCA?
The Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) is a group of private, non-denominational development agencies addressing a range of development issues including health, education, architecture, rural development and the promotion of civil and private sector initiatives all over the world. The AKDN’s agencies collaborate in working towards a common goal - building institutions and programmes that can respond to the dynamic challenges of social, economic and cultural change. Active in over 30 countries in Europe, Asia, Africa and North America, the Network’s institutions work for the common good of all citizens, regardless of origin, gender or religion. UCA is an active member of this network, focusing on education, culture and economic development.

9 Is UCA a Religious University?
No. UCA is a secular institution of higher education embracing no religion or creed and open to men and women of all faiths and traditions, or no religious beliefs, purely on the basis of merit.

UCA operates within a framework of values that espouses academic excellence, individual rights and security, responsibility to community and public service, and ethical and transparent operations of government and business.

10How is UCA structured?
UCA is Central Asia’s first regional university, with a single mission and three campuses. Each campus will have equal, world-class resources and students and faculty will be encouraged to move between campuses. Administration will be spread across the campuses. This One University - Three Campus model promotes the exchange of information and ideas across borders; the mobility of the best and brightest minds throughout the region; and the study of local economic and cultural issues, while fostering a commitment to the development of the region as a whole.

11Does UCA already exist?
Yes, but not yet in its fullest capacity. Currently UCA has a Central Administration office in Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic that is planning and developing UCA facilities and programmes. UCA also has an operating School of Professional and Continuing Education with programmes in Tekeli and Taldykorgan Kazakhstan; Naryn, Kyrgyz Republic; and Dushanbe and Khorog, Tajikistan, that offers vocational training and professional development courses in a range of areas including applied languages, accounting, computers and information technology, and tourism planning and development.

12Why is it not fully functioning yet?
UCA is being built strategically and carefully to ensure excellence and sustainability. Creating a world-class university with three campuses in rural, mountainous regions is a long-term process. Building full-scale, residential campuses in geographically-challenging, isolated areas involves complex planning, architectural and construction processes. Land has been secured, and the design for the three campuses is being finalized. Over the last three years, extensive preparatory works on the site have employed some 600 people. Developing original, innovative academic programmes that are relevant to the region and consistent with international best practices and standards requires careful consideration and consultation with experts and partner institutions. Planning is underway for Graduate, Undergraduate, and executive programmes. Identifying and hiring excellent people to plan and teach at UCA is a time-consuming but critical process, and many of these positions are being filled now to ensure that the University is fully functional as soon as possible.

13When will UCA be ready and what will it be like?
In addition to the School of Professional and Continuing Education, which began its enrolment in 2006, it is anticipated that UCA will have three world-class residential campuses in Tekeli, Kazakhstan; Naryn, the Kyrgyz Republic; and Khorog, Tajikistan by about 2016. Each campus will offer Preparatory, Undergraduate, Graduate, Doctoral, Professional and Continuing Education and Distance Education academic programmes; research facilities and programmes; world-class athletic and library facilities; beautiful and functional parks; economic development programmes; and unique programmes focusing on Central Asian cultures. Once fully operational, UCA will have a vibrant student community of over 3,000 students engaged in rigorous academic programmes and a rich student life including cultural, athletic, recreational and community service activities. With competitive faculty student ratios, UCA will have over 300 faculty across the three campuses. At full capacity UCA expects to produce about 1,400 graduates annually.

14Who is paying for UCA?
UCA is an expensive endeavor, requiring the support of many. The governments of Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic and Tajikistan have all contributed land and extended various fiscal benefits. They will continue to support UCA’s fund-raising efforts over time. His Highness the Aga Khan has already contributed a total of $15 million for an endowment fund which will be expanded. International donor agencies, governments, foundations, corporations and individuals - including UCA graduates - are all expected to support UCA in the future.

15 Will students have to pay to attend?
All students will be expected to contribute to the cost of their education at UCA. However, no qualified student will be denied the opportunity to study at UCA for financial reasons. Those who need help can access financial aid in the form of scholarships, grants, loans and work-study programmes.

16 What language will UCA courses be taught in?
To ensure that graduates have access to global ideas and emerging knowledge, English will be the language of instruction for all degree courses. Non-degree courses will be in Russian or in Kazakh, Kyrgyz or Tajik, depending on where they are offered.

17 What if I cannot speak English very well but want to attend UCA?
Most incoming undergraduates will need some preparation in both English and computing. UCA will establish a one-year preparatory programme for undergraduates to help with this. A three-month preparatory programme will also be in place for incoming graduate students. Students must achieve a minimum standard in these courses before gaining acceptance into the degree courses.

18 Why would I choose UCA?
UCA will offer world-class education for intellectual and professional development using teaching, research and study methods that encourage critical thinking, initiative, creativity, leadership, and civic responsibility.

UCA will have residential and academic environments in the most beautiful regions in the world, creating unique live laboratories for the study of mountain regions and cultures.

UCA students and staff will have opportunities to contribute to the social and economic development of Central Asia; and benefit from links to local communities, regional governments, international organizations and international academic partners.

19What if I want to attend UCA?
UCA wants to attract the brightest, most hardworking and creative students in the region. Competitive admissions standards are being developed and closer to the date of opening, admissions policies will be developed. If you want to attend and get the most from UCA in the future, start taking English lessons now, demonstrate a commitment to your community and region, and do your best in your educational and professional endeavors.

20 What if I am interested in working for UCA?
There are - and there will be - many employment opportunities at UCA. To ensure excellence, diversity and global perspectives, hiring is being done locally, regionally and internationally. If you are interested in a position at UCA, please visit our web site or send a cover letter and your resume to:

UCA Central Administration
138 Toktogul Str
720001 Bishkek
Send an e-mail to HR Recruitment

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