On April 11, 2017, the World Bank and the Government of Uzbekistan signed a US$50 million Credit Agreement for the Modernizing Higher Education Project that will support the country in strengthening the management of its higher education system and improving its quality and relevance to the labor market.
The Ministry of Higher and Specialized Secondary Education (MHSSE) will be responsible for the implementation of the Project, with technical support from the World Bank for the period 2017 to 2022. The Project will benefit not only students, teaching staff, and administrators of higher education institutions, but also the staff of educational government agencies. Employers and industries in Uzbekistan will benefit from research programs that are more relevant and collaborative, as well as from future higher education graduates who will be better prepared with the appropriate skills and knowledge expected of employees.
“In recent employer surveys, more than half of all employers cite the lack of adequately skilled workers as a key constraint to doing business in Uzbekistan. The Project signed today will strengthen higher education institutions in their ability to produce skilled graduates and to conduct quality, relevant research to further fuel economic development in Uzbekistan,” said Hideki Mori, World Bank Country Manager for Uzbekistan.
To strengthen the Government’s management of the country’s higher education system, the Project will finance the implementation of a higher education information management system to support policy analysis and the development of a quality assurance function consistent with good international practices.
At selected higher education institutions, the Project will also finance the modernization of basic teaching laboratories and advanced scientific research laboratories in priority areas of the economy. Importantly, this includes updating the curriculum to optimize the use of the updated laboratories, including training for faculties and staff. The Project will also support the establishment of a national e-library (electronic library) to improve the learning and research environment at Uzbekistan’s higher education institutions.
To deepen the linkages between higher education and industry, and to improve teaching and learning processes, the Project will also finance an Academic Innovation Fund. This Fund will allow higher education institutions to submit their own innovative proposals for new initiatives that align with the Fund’s objectives. The proposals will be evaluated by a selection committee based on criteria such as the impact, innovation, and sustainability of the initiatives, with some prioritization given to proposals based on their degree of citizen engagement and benefit for female students.
The Credit is from the International Development Association, the World Bank’s concessionary lending arm, with a maturity of 25 years, including a 5-year grace period. The Government of Uzbekistan is also providing additional co-financing with its own funds, therefore the total Project budget is US$50 million. The Project aligns with goals associated with the Government of Uzbekistan’s strategy to reaching upper-middle-income status by 2030.