Export of Higher Education Services in Kyrgyzstan
The paper examines recent developments in the international higher education sector in Kyrgyzstan. It attempts to (i) provide an explanation for why the country has outperformed its Central Asian (CA) neighbours and become a regional leader in recruiting international students, and (ii) assess the impact of international students on the Kyrgyz economy. Surveys, focus group discussions and in-depth interviews with 100 international students from 10 different countries, including Afghanistan, were conducted. Findings suggest that the main factors that led to the increasing number of foreign students in Kyrgyzstan are: the relatively low cost of education and living; the perceived good quality of education; soft university entry requirements; proximity to home countries; the opportunity to study in different languages; and the availability of donor funded scholarships. There is room for further expansion of cooperation between Kyrgyzstan and Afghanistan in the area of higher education by attracting more Afghan students to the country. Based on survey data on foreign student expenditures, international students contributed 0.25% of gross domestic product in 2011.