1. Государственный общеобязательный стандарт образования
Республики Казахстан. Начальное образование. Основное среднее об-
разование. Общее среднее образование. Основные положения. Астана,
2008. -24 с.
2. Послание Президента Республики Казахстан Н.Назарбаева на-
роду Казахстана. 28 февраля 2007 г. [Электронный ресурс] – Режим
‘Double’ degrees, ‘joint’ diplomas, ‘shared’ curricula, … : towards a destructuring form of the multilateralisation of higher education ?
Pierre Chabal, PhD University of Le Havre / Sciences-po Europe-Asie campus Invited professor, national universities of Kazakhstan, China, Uzbekistan, Mongolia, Japan Presentation at the Symposium Contemporary trends of development of higher education : quality assurance and the global context KazNTU University, Almaty, May 2013
The world is presently experiencing again a globalizing trend, that of
higher education and research. If this were a rational evolution, slow as was
the construction of an international academic system throughout the Antiq-
uity and the Middle Ages, it would be a continuation of history. Yet today,
it is more of a rupture in history, or even a rough acceleration of history, to
the runaway homogenizing and de-structuring of history.
Governments and educational policy-makers are in fact faced with a
dilemma. Either they assert their national sovereignty in education and,
thus, run the risk of falling behind in the global competition for knowledge,
for degrees and for skilled jobs. Or they engage in the internationalization
of their education system and they run the risk of being diluted in standards
and criteria beyond their control. Certainly, the choice is not easy.
There is, to be sure, in these questions, a link with "the pursuit of ex-
cellence”. This link is however tenuous. When some countries attract mas-
sively the best students from other countries - the "brain drain" - the stu-
dents rush into the open arms of a national system (Chinese, Japanese
American, Soviet, British, etc.). What is happening today is a regional competition and largely a supranational one (the Bologna system, the Uni-
versity of Shanghai Cooperation, etc.).
There exists clearly a necessary to participate in the internationaliza-
tion of higher education (I) but also to resist losing the national characteris-
tics of education systems (II).
I - The necessary participation in the internationalization of higher
Taking into account realities requires to acknowledge world evolu-
tions. The world is changing from era to era. It has opened up from the 16th
century through the great discoveries. It has known of colonisations. It has
torn itself in the world wars. It divided in the Cold War. Today it is open
again. Therefore, the education authorities must understand that the world
of education has changed, too, to a new form of competition (1), including
through a new form of international culture of training, which tends towards
A) the invention of an educational form of post-Cold War rivalries
1 / The realist school of international relations analysis suggests that
actors strive to compete more than to agree. In other words, states have in-
creasing difficulties to build together, not to compete against each other.
The forms of their competition may change but this competition characte-
rizes the power relations in the world. It may be territorial, economic, mili-
tary or ideological competition, as has been the case for millennia. There
. See P. Chabal Interregional Competition as innovated world order : is it enhancing exchanges or destabilising the world ?,in EurŒconomica, vol. 8, n° 1,
2012, pp. 107-130; firs presented at the international conference International Law and Free Trade, RMIT, Melbourne
may be cultural competition, as in the case of the great empires of history,
or, as from the colonial era, the desire to impose its cultural, linguistic or -
today - educational model.
2 / Education is indeed a very specific area, where contemporary riva-
lries generate comparative advantages for the future. Since the end of the
Cold War, rivalries in the world have become more cultural and ideational. I
do not subscribe to the theories of Huntington, suggesting a violent and de-
structive confrontation between cultures and religions. I suggest that educa-
tional issues are carriers, in the post-Cold War, of factor of rivalries that
structure the world of the 21
3 / In 2006, in Moscow, I presented a paper on this subject.
that the idea of bringing together all education systems in the world would
be counterproductive. This would result in a loss (of differences) since dif-
ferences generate the richness of diversity. Indeed, education contributes to
the formation of nations, of peoples and of individuals. You can not create
an undifferentiated "educational man" any more than you can erase the his-
torical, linguistic, musical and culinary differences among nations.
4 / What interest would a world offer where everyone would be simi-
lar and identical and where all knowledge would be the same, all certitudes
shared and all differences disowned on the ground that they would interfere
with the single truth ? Science, as we know, is built mainly through succes-
sive rebuttals and questioning as to the knowledge acquired. Without this
feature, there would have been no opportunity for Galileo, Newton, Einstein
..., to advance Man towards the scientific control of his world.
5 / The end of the Cold War did not eliminate the tensions and compe-
tition. At most, it slid the competition from global to regional levels. In fact,
regions, as soon as they have launched their construction, add to this con-
struction an educational component, often before a cultural or identity com-
ponent. Thus, the construction of Europe by the European Community did
adopt the Bologna Cooperation as soon as 1976, in order to "unify" the Eu-
ropean higher education systems. Thus, the construction of Asia by the
Shanghai Cooperation Organization did adopt as soon as 2004 the system of
a regional University and established student mobility, which seems to echo
the Bologna process.
. See P. Chabal, « International integration of higher education systems : the
end of structural differenciation ? », international conference, Finance Academy of
the Russian Federation "The Process of International Integration in the sphere of
higher education", in Review of the Finance Academy, vol 1-2, 2006.
6 / In both cases, what is at stake it is to organize the continuation of the
bipolar tension of the Cold War by a bi-educational and "bi-mobile" tension
that allows each "camp" to ensure the presence of the best students in its uni-
versities. While mobility also creates mutual understanding between students
from different countries in the region, this inter-human, cultural and psy-
chosocial aspect is only indirect. What is wanted from the beginning, is a way
to keep students in a region, making the idea of mobility in this region an at-
tractive one in their eyes, so that they do not go "look elsewhere" and do not
go to socialize with the values … of another regional world.
B) the linguistic, cultural and ideological dimension of educational
1 / On the occasion of this regionalization-internationalization of edu-
cation systems, another kind of "great discovery" was made. Simply, the
discovery that education has a strong cultural dimension. Indeed, as lan-
guages cannot be studied outside a cultural context, or even a regional con-
so the studies that young people follow are taking place in a context
that marks the student beyond the content of programs. There is no axiolog-
ical neutrality in education policies in general and especially not in higher
education and research polices in particular.
2 / Therefore, if the world is moving towards educational systems less
numerous and more and more "requiring" in their suggestion to homogenize
the world into two or three competing systems, this strongly resembles a
new cold war. It seems that there is no difference in kind between the
alignments of the Cold War into two blocks and the creation of two large
models - Western and Asian - of universities. To be more precise, the curri-
cula include, even in the exact sciences, a dimension marked by the project
of civilization of the countries that teach these curricula.
3 / In fact, during the Cold War, there occurred a kind of partial trian-
gulation in order to "escape" the binary shackles of two major camps, the
West and the East. It is the desire not to be "aligned" (on the "Greats") from
the 1950s (Bandung) and the 1960s (Non-Aligned Movement). Today, mu- tatis mutandis, the educational dimension of the bipolarization of the world
(the Soviet-American university rivalry until 1991 and the Sino-US univer-
sity rivalry since 1991), is found in the willingness of Europeans to be "nei-
ther in the West nor in the East" but able to retain or impose on others their
higher education model.
. See Jean-Marc Delagneau, “L’influence culturelle des langues dans la
dynamique régionale », in P. Chabal (dir.) Concurrences Interrégionales Europe- Asie au 21 ème siècle, Paris, L’Harmattan, 2014.
4 / The awareness that this influence (rayonnement) can also be ob-
tained through education begins early, as was noticed supra. The Bologna
process is launched as soon as 1976, that is to say years before the Single
market, the Common currency in a Europe with still only Nine members,
before the enlargement to southern Europe (Greece in 1981, Spain and Por-
tugal in 1986). In the case of Asia, the Shanghai University was launched as soon as 2004, that is to say, just three years after the creation of the SCO
and the same year as the admission of the first observer, Mongolia. All SCO
members are not partners of the University of Shanghai but already five of
the six member countries are participating.
5 / The most advanced form, which regional international cooperation
in education takes, is the form of joint degrees. A large number of shades
exist between ‘double’ degrees, ‘joint’ degrees and joint ‘programs’ with
transfer of grades. In Europe, a system was even created for this purpose:
the ECTS (European Credit Transfer System). But whatever the nuances
and subtleties, the basic idea is to create the opportunity to study at several
universities in a region, while accumulating grades and "credits" and getting
a degree with added value compared to a national diploma.
6 / There is, in this, a new form of culture, proactive and ideational. Is
it an ideology ? A kind of educational and regional ideology ? In part, yes,
of course. Moreover, we note that there are few systems of interregional student mobility. Mobility is seen as taking place within the same region.
Some exceptions exist: some universities have created a consortium of
Asian, European, the Pacific and North American universities, between
which students "move" from semester to semester and get, after the same
number of years as for a national diploma, a diploma with a "plural label."
But this remains the exception. There is essentially a regional dimen-
sion in the internationalization of higher education. However, I would sug-
gest that the regions can not be built at the expense of nations and that there
is a need to ensure keeping national educational characteristics in a regional
concert, which is possible.
II - The necessary resistance to the loss of national characteristics of teaching
Realism also requires to take into consideration the national dimension of
education systems. One day perhaps, the nations will be overtaken by another
form of construction. In the past, the European provinces were merged into the
Nation-States, which subsumed them. However, for the present, the Nations
form the basic framework of decisions, even international decisions, and the
sovereignty of States is the reference that imposes itself since the 17
and the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648. Thus, we must preserve the asset of di-
versity, notably academic traditions (1) and maintain universities and national
specificities to avoid a de-motivating “dilution” (2).
A) the richness of the plurality of intellectual and epistemological traditions
1 / During the slow emergence of their diversity, societies have pro-
duced various cultures. Among the elements that constitute a culture, the
ways of thinking and the modes of analysis differ. This begins with the
modes of communication using language, syntax and grammar, sometimes
so different that learning these languages is difficult for speakers of other
languages. Thus, gradually, societies have come to differ markedly in their
way of exchanging ideas and arguments
2 / This has a direct bearing on the issues of education and research. It
seems that "we do not think the same way in all languages." Researchers
need as much differences in education systems as differences in ways of
expressing assumptions, demonstrations and conclusions. Some languages
are prone to putting grammatical subjects before verbs, others use verbs that
appear at the end of sentences, and others are agglutinative, etc. In the same
manner, some scientific traditions are deductive or inductive, empirical or
3 / We come thus to questions of epistemology. Science needs differ-
ent intellectual traditions. Sometimes this complicates the analysis but, al-
ways, it enriches it.
Any change towards the homogenization of education
systems, in the sense of assimilating them into a single model, is a risk: the
risk to loose intellectual richness and scientific power. To suggest that all
students be trained in the same university model comes close to suggesting
that they be educated in a single university and by the same teachers.
4 / Such a development would not only cause a radical loss of com-
parative advantage, but, moreover, it would nullify or almost nullify all ef-
fectiveness of a system of higher education and research. Can we imagine
for a minute that the military of all countries could be trained to the same
geostrategic principles, using the same weapons and defending the same
ideals ? Certainly not ! The same goes for education. Intellectual traditions
have always differed from each other. Historically, students - and teachers!
- travelled to train differently elsewhere !
5 / So it was in the Europe of the Middle Ages when the trips were
common across the continent, from one university to another, from Bologna
to Oxford, from Heidelberg to Salamanca, etc. So it was in the great Orien-
. See P. Chabal, On some epistemological problems in West European studies of 'the wider East Asia' in the post cold war, in Taiwan, Poland and Europe in the
Age of Globalisation (Malinowski et Burdelski dirs.), Varsovie, Ed. Adam Marsza-
lek, pages 37-85, 2006, presented at the Polish Association of Political Science,
Gdansk, novembre 2004 ; as well at the Research Committe 42, Seoul, octobre 2010.
tal world where students and teachers travelled the Middle East and Central
Asia, from Bagdad to Samarkand, and from Tehran to Chingeti, in search of
diverse and complementary knowledge. It is the same today: a student
learns better by exposing himself to teachers who "think differently" than to
"modern" teachers who "think the same."
6 / If teachers are able to provide different, complementary and enriching
teachings, that is to say teachings that are complementary because they differ, it
is simply because they themselves were educated, trained, tested and instructed
differently. The differences are thus not just intellectual or related to knowledge,
they are also methodological, epistemological and cultural variations. One
knows this very well. In some countries, the number of lectures is reduced and
students are encouraged to conduct extensive research by themselves (the "es-
say" system in the Anglo-American world). In other countries, students are
trained by lectures and exams in lecture form of masterful "essays" (in Latin
countries). However, in both cases, countries produce science, Nobel prizes and
useful knowledge to mankind in the long-term.
B) keeping national dimensions to avoid being “sucked-up” and
1 / Educational issues are thus but one aspect among others of interna-
tional relations. To suggest to keep a character in part national for education
systems - except of course the language question - is not the same as saying
that we must "stiffen" international exchanges, or make them “hostile”. It is
simply to say that there is more to lose than gain in homogenizing too
much. Differences enrich, we said it above, because they create emulation
and a stimulating competition among players, which is possible by Peace:
Olympic games have indeed, in this sense, replaced wars.
2 / For nations, to become "too similar" would be destructuring. Nations
especially have as their role to be able to establish dialogues between them-
selves to avoid war. Similarly, at their level, regions have a vocation to develop
and improve their capacity for dialogue.
Therefore, what matters is that they
be able to exchange among themselves, including students, but also to “retain
their souls”. Nations are in this sense Homelands (“patries”). And Homelands
do not dissolve into any higher “whole”. Once equipped with an identity, Na-
tions and Homelands are intent (and intended) to remain themselves.
. See P. Chabal Le dialogue Europe-Asie et la stabilisation de l’Asie de l’est : vers une nouvelle géographie de l’influence ?, in Régions, Institutions,
Politiques : perspectives euro-asiatiques institutionnelles et fonctionnelles", P.
Chabal (dir.) Apopsix, 2010, pp. 158-190 ; et P. Chabal Le dialogue géopolitique régional entre l'Europe et la Turquie, in P. Chabal et A. de Raulin (dirs.), Les
Chemins de la Turquie vers l'Europe, Artois Presses Université, 2002, pp. 85-118
3 / If all Nations allowed themselves to be "sucked-up" by a single
model, which would “empty them” of their own substance, the world would
look like a stereotypical repetition. It would be a "Brave New World" as
portrayed in Huxley's novel of the same title. What has changed dramatical-
ly in recent decades and, more so, since the Cold War, in particular, is that
the race for excellence, intellectual competition is a race for life, a race for
knowledge and for construction. It is no longer a death race, an arms race
and a race to destruction. They called it, in terms of theories of international
relations, "mutual assured destruction" (MAD).
4 / Today, there can exist, on the contrary, an "Avant-gardist mutual and or-
ganisational construction” (AMOC), where everyone would remain different but
where all would work together to advance science. Such a formulation sounds like
a Utopia or naivety or even like a contradiction. Indeed, at the beginning of this
article, I said that international relations remained equally competitive and that this
competition had become educational, intellectual and academic.
5 / I accept this apparent contradiction. I am not saying that issues of
academic competition are easier to solve than diplomatic, military or politi-
cal ones. I am saying that they are different. Thus, two professors may dis-
agree and this disagreement may lead to intense clashes. Yet, through these
clashes, they both seek not to be right at the expense of the other but to
make knowledge and expertise progress together in their field of research.
6 / In education, as in culture, values and traditions, humans need land-
marks. These markers are provided to them by sharing with their peers in ways
that are common to them. This does not mean to isolate oneself. Two research-
ers from the same country and the same university system may equally need to
confront their colleagues from other systems as they need to be together in order
to formalize their research findings. After more than twenty years of interna-
tional academic experience, the author of this article does not intend to cut him-
self from his national academic traditions but he does not intend either, in the
least, to deprive himself from the enriching contact that he receives from inte-
racting with his colleagues around the world.
In conclusion, the question of whether countries should now merge their
higher education systems together is quite simple. It is answered in the negative.
If we must remain attentive to international developments, we should build
national education systems and keep on improving them, and not dilute them
from the start into an international or intercontinental or transnational illusion,
which is a kind of mirage. Mirages are the prerogative of deserts.
We should not turn the world into an intellectual desert, with the pre-
text to endow the world with similar universities, identical programs and