How international higher education graduates contribute to their home country: an example from government scholarship recipients in Kazakhstan

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All Penn AHEAD Papers
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International higher education
study abroad
scholarship programs
human capital development
International Education
This work was supported by the Nazarbayev University Faculty Development Grant 240919FD3930.
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Serkova, Yevgeniya
Mazbulova, Zhanar
Jumakulov, Zakir

Many countries offer government scholarships for international higher education and expect the recipients to contribute to national development. While there are many benefits from these scholarship programmes, they have been criticized as expensive. We examine the perceived contribution of Kazakhstan’s two government scholarship alumni to the development of the nation. Drawing on Kirkpatrick’s model of evaluation, we explore the influence of government scholarships on Bolashak and Nazarbayev University alumni and their contribution at organizational and societal levels. Our findings show that both groups of alumni play important roles in developing local talent and contributing to the improvement of systems, practices, and policies within their workplaces and to wider socio-economic changes. Alumni are fostering social developments bringing attention to issues of environmental protection and political engagement. However, our findings also illustrate that underdeveloped industries, limited job opportunities in some fields, low salaries, bureaucratic management culture, and resistance to change limit alumni contributions. We argue that the problem is at the system level and that the national economy is lagging in human capital development. Our findings emphasize the critical importance of developing the economy in tandem with education and human capital development to reap greater benefits from the knowledge of international education graduates.

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