This article was originally published in Russian by
The closing of an educational institution, be it a school or a university, is generally condemned by societies all across the world.
But not in Azerbaijan.
The news of the closing of a private university in Baku, “Tefekkur” (Az. thought, mentality) brought about a reaction of silent approval. Many chose to not even hide their joy.
“The closure of this “market place” was one of the most positive events of the year” – such statements accompanied the publication of news on the university’s closure. Despite this, mass media reported that allegedly, a number of top-level Azerbaijani officials have a diploma from Tefekkur University themselves – Assistant to the President on Economic Reforms Natiq Amirov was mentioned among them.
Why was Tefekkur University shut down? Was the level of instruction of the university really so bad? And what can the students of the university expect?
An official comment on the closure of the university has been posted on the website of the Ministry of Education. It states that Tefekkur University appealed to the Ministry of Education on October 11, 2016, and announced its decision to close the university in connection with financial problems that have arisen in the council of the university founders.
Given the above and the fact that the five-year term of accreditation was due to expire in the end of 2016, the Ministry of Education decided to close the university.
Students will be transferred to other universities in accordance with their specialty and entrance exam scores. The cost of their education will be not be increased at other universities – students will be required to contact the working group at the end of the winter exam period.
Former employee of the Ministry of Education, Rashad Aliyev, commented on the closure of the University.
“I had the opportunity to get acquainted with the activities of a number of the private ‘universities’. I do not understand how such universities such as Avrasiya and Tefekkur can exist in the country. It is a sin to call them universities.
In Azerbaijan, there are many independent laboratories to check the quality of cement, but there is no competent structure that controls the quality of higher education. It is clear as day that the Ministry of Education cannot cope with this task. But in 20 years they [the Ministry] have been unable to create a normally functioning, independent accreditation body for at least minimal control over the quality of education in the country. And those who receive their diplomas from these universities run state agencies, make decisions affecting the fate of tens of thousands of citizens”, said Aliyev
“There are 54 universities, including private universities and branches, in Azerbaijan”, education expert Kamran Asadov told Radio Azadliq.
“However, the level of teaching in private universities, with the exception of a few, is not very different from one other. And these universities, including Tefekkur, do not have high ratings. Their closure in the near future is inevitable. This is indicated by the facts. In 2016, according to the results of final examinations, Tefekkur filled only 40 percent of its planned spots. Odlar Yurdu University showed an even worse result – 11 percent.
Taking into account that the main source of income of private universities are education fees, the absence of students will lead to financial problems and the closure of schools.
However, some private universities, led by Tefekkur, found a unique way out – despite the fact that following results of entrance examinations, they were unable to fill the planned places, the number of students in these universities exceeds available spots. How does this happen?
Applicants who do not get enough points on their entrance exams get enrolled in Georgian, Dagestani and Ukrainian universities, and then are somehow transferred back to private universities of Azerbaijan.
However, in 2016, authority of the transfer of students from one university to another, including transfer from abroad, was handed over to the Ministry of Education. Then, the main condition for the transfer of students became their test scores.
Universities such as Tefekkur thus lost income from transfer students. And now students who managed to slip in in this way will be unable to transfer to another university, because the main factor for the transfer is entrance scores.
Another reason for closing Tefekkur University was that the graduates of these universities were often considered the weakest while applying through the State Commission for work on a state level.Students and parents have repeatedly expressed their dissatisfaction over corruption and extortion. Taking into account above, the Ministry of Education did not renew the license of the university. On the other hand, the closure of the university in the middle of the school year is a negative factor. Now in the midst of exams, the closing of the university will have a major impact on their results. In addition, the Ministry of Education states that students transferring to other universities will not be affected by higher tuition fees. According to my information, students will be transferred to Odlar Yurdu University, Avrasiya University and Baku Business University. Some of them have lower tuition fees than Tefekkur. And what about the difference in tuition fees? What will happen with that extra money? Moreover, the university curriculum might not match and there will be an academic debt. Why should a student suffer from the irresponsibility of officials?
This is not the first case. When they closed the Higher Socio-political University, its students were transferred from one university to another several times. All this had a negative impact on students and the quality of education”, said the expert.