According to the Statistics Committee of the Ministry of National Economy of the Republic of Kazakhstan, at the beginning of the 2020/2021 academic year, there are 128 higher education institutions in Kazakhstan: 11 universities are national, 1 - international, 1 - autonomous educational organization (AEO), 29 - state, 17 - joint-stock, 55 - private and 14 - non-civilians.

In recent years, in order to improve the quality of training of specialists, the state has adopted a guideline to reduce the number of universities and strengthen the qualification requirements for licensing higher education institutions. In addition, in 2010, the law introduced a ban on the activities of branches of universities. As a result, the number of higher education institutions has decreased due to mergers, consolidation and transformation into TVET organizations.

Today, in the higher education system of the Republic of Kazakhstan, there are various types of higher educational institutions: national research university, national higher educational institution, research university, university, academy, institute (implements only bachelor's degree programs) and equivalent ones (conservatory, higher school).

The education system of the Republic of Kazakhstan is characterized by multilevel and continuous development and includes the following levels of education:

  • 0. Preschool education and training – 1/6 years
  • 1. Primary education (4 years); entry - 6/7 years.
  • 2. Basic secondary education; entry - 10/11 years.
  • 3. Secondary education; entry - 15/16 years.
  • - general secondary education;
  • - technical and professional education: qualifications of a worker and a mid-level specialist, entry - 15/16 years;
  • 4. Post-secondary education: qualifications of a worker with a high level of discharge; entry - 17/18 years.
  • 5. Incomplete higher education – applied bachelor's degree; admission - 17/18 years.
  • 6. Higher education: bachelor's degree, specialist qualifications for medical specialties; admission – 17/18 years.
  • 7-8. Postgraduate education: Master's and PhD degrees.

The structure of higher and postgraduate education of the Republic of Kazakhstan is regulated by the Law "On Education" (dated July 27, 2007). With the signing of the Bologna Declaration in 2010, Kazakhstan is implementing a three-level system of higher education "Bachelor-Master- Ph.D.". This structure has found its legal consolidation in the Law of the Republic of Kazakhstan "On Education»:

1) Higher basic education – bachelor's degree program - with a duration of 4 years;

2) Postgraduate education, including the scientific and pedagogical direction of training-the master's program-with the duration of training in the profile master's program – 1 year, in the scientific and pedagogical – 2 years;

3) The program of preparation of doctors of philosophy (PhD), doctors in the profile-doctoral studies-after completion of master's programs. The duration of training is at least 3 years or more.

According to the Bologna Declaration, the introduction of a system of credits or credits ensures the recognition of educational programs. The introduction of credit technology of training is a significant contribution to the recognition of national educational programs at the international level, ensuring the mobility of students and teachers, as well as improving the quality of education and ensuring the continuity of all levels and stages of higher and postgraduate education. Consequently, all universities in the country use the Kazakhstan credit transfer model, developed according to the ECTS type. ECTS (European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System) is a universal system for measuring the academic load of a student during the development of an educational program or a separate course.

Admission to higher educational institutions (hereinafter referred to as the university) is carried out on the basis of the Standard Rules for Admission to Training in Educational Organizations that implement Professional Training programs of Higher Education, approved by the Order of the Minister of Education and Science of the Republic of Kazakhstan (ROK) dated October 31, 2018. Admission of applicants with secondary education is based on the results of the Unified National Test (UNT). Graduates of previous years, applicants with primary or secondary vocational education, graduates of secondary schools studying abroad, as well as some other categories for admission to the University of Kazakhstan pass a complex testing of higher-education applicants (CTA).

In March 2010, Kazakhstan officially joined the Bologna Declaration and became the 47th member of the European Higher Education Area and the first Central Asian state to be recognized as a full member of the European Educational Area.

The transition to a multi-level training model in accordance with the Bologna Process is fully completed. According to the National Report on the State and Development of the Education System of the Republic of Kazakhstan (based on the results of 2019), undergraduates are trained in 118 universities of the country, where 32,527 people study, of which 16,220 study at the expense of the state order. The graduation rate of undergraduates with a defense is 92%. Currently, the system of higher education in Kazakhstan, which has implemented the American-style credit system, is changing, as the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS), the pan-European system of accounting for students' academic work during the development of an educational program or course, is being introduced. The new ECTS Guidelines approved at the Yerevan Conference of European Ministers of Education on May 14-15, 2015 are being implemented. In recent years, the academic mobility of teaching staff and students has been actively developing. Exchange programs are financed from the state budget and the universities' own funds.

The COVID-19 pandemic has made significant adjustments to the educational process. All universities in the country were forced to switch to an online learning format in order to adapt to the new reality. Although the pandemic has had the greatest impact on higher education on a global scale, it is worth noting that it has become one of the few areas in Kazakhstan prepared to transfer its processes to a distance format.

Since March 16, 2020, 116 universities of the country have switched to distance learning. The vast majority of students studied at home, but 5 thousand Kazakh students and 4 thousand foreign students remained in the dormitories at the place of study, as the conditions for distance learning were created in the dormitories.

The country's universities have already had some experience in implementing distance learning technologies in the learning process, as some universities used a mixed form of education, while others used a distance-learning format. Universities use special platforms, such as ZOOM, Platonus, Moodle, Microsoft Teams, Cisco Webex, and others. A number of universities use self-developed platforms. In the difficult situation of the pandemic, universities supported their employees and teaching staff in organizing training courses. All universities and colleges have HelpDesk, a system that provides technical support to students and teachers. Regular surveys of students, faculty, and staff on satisfaction are conducted to obtain up-to-date information and improve the educational process.