17 ratings and indices are included in the Decree of the President “On improving the position of the Republic of Uzbekistan in international ratings and indices, as well as introduction of a new mechanism for systemic work with them in government bodies and organizations” of June 2, 2020. One of them is the Global Competitiveness Index of the country, which contains an indicator of the level of development of higher education.
Back in October 2019, the Decree “On approval of the Concept for development of the higher education system of the Republic of Uzbekistan until 2030” was issued. In accordance with it, over 70 target criteria have been determined, which are planned to be achieved by 2030. Among them are an increase in the coverage of graduates with higher education from the current 20 percent to 50, an increase in the number of non-state higher education institution from five to 35 percent, as well as development of public-private partnerships (PPPs). The Address of the President of Uzbekistan to the Oliy Majlis reflects the increase in budget places in higher education institutions and the provision of grants for girls, which also helps to create favorable conditions for young people who want to get higher education. According to the resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers “On provision of educational loans for studying at higher education institutions on a paid contract basis”, the loan repayment term is ten years for students studying in the direction of undergraduate studies, and five – for those who enter the magistracy. Interest-free educational loans are provided for orphans, children of boarding schools and disabled people from childhood, and for students from low-income families – with payment of 50 percent of the accrued amount of interest payments from loans from the State Employment Promotion Fund.
The experience of foreign countries is taken into account to improve and create convenient forms of loan payment. For example, the UK has one of the best educational systems in the world with a high overall enrollment rate in higher education. The main priorities of the country are improving quality, reducing complex regulation and focusing on student needs. The UK provides support through financial assistance: loans at preferential interest rates, scholarships and grants, which makes education affordable. A system of student loans is widespread, which allows students to return funds only after graduation and employment. And this is if his annual salary will exceed 26.575 pounds per year, or 2.214 pounds per month. The main thing in this system is that the loan repayment amount depends on how much a person earns, and not on how much he borrowed. If the income changes, the amount to be refunded will also change. If a person stops working or starts earning below a certain loan repayment amount, then his payments will stop until he earns more than the loan repayment threshold. The implementation of such a system of student loans in Uzbekistan will help to increase educational opportunities for young people from low-income families, young married couples with children, and those who are temporarily unable, but want to study.
Involvement of the private sector in the education system through the organization of public-private partnerships (PPP) for development of the education sector, as defined in the concept. To meet the growing demand for education, the state faces certain difficulties in securing financing. To solve the problem of developing educational infrastructure and providing qualitative educational programs in many countries, public-private partnerships have become an advanced tool of public administration.
In Uzbekistan, at the initiative of the President, the Law “On public-private partnership” was adopted, which defines the basic concepts and principles, procedures for the preparation and implementation of PPP projects, provides financial support mechanisms, as well as contains rights, obligations, powers and requirements for its main participants. In Uzbekistan, PPP is already used in housing and road construction, in construction and reconstruction of social facilities and others. Currently, the first regulatory act, which is sectoral in nature and regulates PPP relations, has been adopted for the system of preschool education. According to the resolution of the President of the country “On measures to further stimulate and develop the system of preschool education”, for those who want to open a private kindergarten, a number of benefits are provided: exemption from taxes, customs duties, free land, buildings at zero cost, technical and methodological support and others.
However, for the sphere of higher education in Uzbekistan there is still no legal act that would regulate relations between a state institution and a private investor. In a public-private partnership for a higher education institution, the main goals are to acquire additional resources, access to management expertise, introduce innovations, make extensive use of technology, and reduce costs. For a private investor, the main advantages of partnership are increased corporate image, greater introduction of the educational services market, and getting profit.
Based on foreign practice in higher education, it is advisable to develop partnership in the main two areas – service partnership and partnership in provision of educational services. In a service partnership, a private investor does not provide educational services, but provides administrative support or infrastructure services. For example, in the UK in recent years, the construction and maintenance of student dormitories that meet the requirements of the time and the needs of students, the repair and maintenance of old campus buildings are carried out by private investors on the basis of PPPs. For a private investor, the main goal is to make a profit, and for universities, partnership minimizes risks and concentrate financial resources on training and research activities, sports and social centers, and other areas that will ultimately increase the competitiveness and quality of education.
The partnership for the provision of educational services is provided by a private investor in commerce, management, logistics, information technology and computer research. Typically, a private investor specializes in one of these areas, and the training provided is intended to attract students and improve the skills of specialists who want to expand their knowledge in the relevant field in order to increase the chances of finding a job. At the same time, the advantages for the university are access to experience in managing and implementing practical results, investor training programs, reaching specific target groups, introducing innovations and a variety of educational courses provided by the university. The benefits for a private investor are improved corporate image, penetration of the educational services market at lower cost and, of course, a certain income. There are different PPP models used in foreign countries, which determine the nature of the relationship between the parties and have the potential to succeed in balancing the expectations and goals of partners.
Public-private partnership will help to improve the system of higher education, use the positive experience of foreign countries, increase the level of coverage of the population with higher education, competitiveness and the quality of education.
Deputy of the Legislative Chamber of the Oliy Majlis,
Member of the PDPU faction.