During the last week, one of the most discussed topics among Kyrgyz bloggers was the situation around the American University in Central Asia. As its website says, AUCA has an established reputation for “dedication to democratic values, individual freedoms and the spirit of innovation”, and, indeed, it has played an important role in the region's educational field and grew into one of the academic leaders in Central Asia.
However, on February 15, the Jogorku Kenesh [Parliament] deputy Ishak Masaliev raised [ru] the issue of AUCA’s location and gave a commission to the Kyrgyz Ministry of Education and Culture to address his concerns.
The main argument was that the building of the university has a historical importance as it used to be home for the Kyrgyz government in Soviet times. He also alleged that the majority of AUCA students come from rich and highly-ranked officials’ families, while poor students from regions make up a very small percentage.
I can assure the readers that the majority of students represent middle class, most of them get financial aid in order to pay tuition fees. I guess our deputies should take care of serious problems of the whole country, but not give hard time to the developing institutions like AUCA….
Kanykei, an AUCA student, has also expressed her opinion:
I am not a government official's or a millionaire’s daughter. I am from a regular family, and I'm happy that I can get quality education in Kyrgyzstan without bribery, which, unfortunately, exists in most universities. AUCA really gives generous opportunities for all students.
Tuliprevolution condemns an old-school MP Masaliev:
Masaliev is still dreaming of Soviet-type free-of-charge education! Man, wake up, its capitalism era!!! Besides, if it's the point of private higher education institutions without scholarships, then why he did not start with another university of a kind, KRSU? A communist never says things like that about a university, controlled by a “bigger” brother…
Anonymous from Akipress blog says [ru]:
54 per cent of AUCA students come from the regions. My sister studies there and she has never had to pay or bribe teachers.
We can now only hope that this university – that brings together bright and intellectual young minds from all parts of Central Asia and beyond – will not be forced to leave the place where it is currently located.