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A Message from His Highness the Aga Khan, Chancellor, University of Central Asia


Members of the Class of 2023, distinguished guests, faculty and staff, trustees, friends and supporters:

Two decades ago, the University of Central Asia was only an idea. That idea was distinctive, even unique, encompassing a multi-campus, multi-country institution located in and devoted to the development of mountain societies. It had attracted dedicated adherents and generous supporters. It possessed an enabling framework, thanks to its patrons, the Presidents of the Republic of Tajikistan, the Kyrgyz Republic, and the Republic of Kazakhstan. These were tremendous assets that boded well for the future. But the journey from idea to reality had only just begun.

The graduation of the Class of 2023 reminds us how far we have come in the intervening years, and how much we have accomplished.

In 2006, UCA launched the School of Professional and Continuing Education to enable individuals across the region to acquire valuable skills. Since then, 220,000 people – half of them women – have completed courses in scores of subjects, from welding to accounting to cybersecurity.

In 2011, we established the Graduate School of Development to conduct research on issues important to Central Asia’s future, and to build capacity within public, private, and civil society institutions. Today, with climate change posing a grave threat to the region, it is working to identify drought-resistant crops; investigating avalanche risk; supporting the development of sustainable infrastructure; examining the health impacts of climate change; and engaging community organisations in the search for solutions.

In 2016 and 2017, we inaugurated our first campuses, not in national capitals but – in accordance with the University’s mission – in remote areas where they can have a decisive impact. And today, we are celebrating the third of many convocations and many milestones to come. The history of the University of Central Asia demonstrates that high ideals and bold ambitions can inspire people of diverse backgrounds to work together to improve quality of life, at home and abroad.

Graduates, Central Asia and the world face an array of challenges and opportunities. Climate change is altering the relationship between humanity and the environment. Advances in artificial intelligence are opening new horizons in the interface between humanity and technology. Globalisation is transforming relations between countries and communities as knowledge flows ever faster around the world.

Your education has prepared you to address these challenges. You have been trained in computer science, in data science, in environmental science, in economics, and in communications – each a field of vital importance. You have discovered what it means to live in a diverse community. And above all, you have learned that challenges are not to be feared but to be embraced.

In my eyes, you embody promise: the promise of a new generation, alive to new ways of collaborating, communicating, and thinking; and the promise of a new university, alert to emerging problems and eager to identify new opportunities to serve its countries. Born as the University of Central Asia was first taking shape, you are as young as the University itself. Equally bright futures lie ahead of you and your alma mater. My wish is that you will continue to draw strength and inspiration from one another for many, many decades to come.