Although education has always played a fundamental role in society, enabling people to improve on their social environment, its influence has been most felt over the past century.
In Azerbaijan, a young country dominated by a vernal generation, getting a good education has been people’s ticket to success. And indeed, over the past decades, education has been understood in Azerbaijan as the fastest way to get one’s dreams and ambitions fulfilled.
Extensive schooling and tutoring enables the young to get into the career they want, opening up work opportunities which a few decades ago might not have been available to them.
Unfortunately, career choices cannot always be based on personal choices and ambitions – parents can often be the main guiding hand behind one’s choices.
In recent times, many students have left the country to get an education abroad. With foreign education being such in vogue, many families have been keen to send their sons and daughters to Europe and North America to get their degrees from world known universities. As for students, the idea of gaining independence away from the nest has been a powerful incentive indeed. Especially in traditional Azerbaijani families where most youngsters only get to leave the family home upon their marriage.
Like many countries in the region, Azerbaijan has seen its students population look abroad to complete their education.
A tendency to get an education abroad has existed in Azerbaijan since the last century. However, during the Soviet Union, it was very hard to leave the country and the only alternative ways were to travel to Soviet cities like Moscow, Kiev and Saint Petersburg.
And though people have found foreign universities attractive this is not to say that Azerbaijan’s education system is in no way unsatisfactory, quite the contrary actually.
But foreign universities are expensive and not all families can afford to send their children. Thus the state has set in place a system of scholarships and grants, offering the most deserving an opportunity to fulfill their educational ambitions.
Universities also offer special programs to enable students to complete part of their studies abroad.
There are even school programs like FLEX for students who successfully complete one exchange year in the U.S.
Local universities work with their international colloquies to make student exchange program a success. Some programs require a preliminary application form with fees, and then schedule interviews and a longer application form. Other programs request a full application from the beginning and then schedule interviews.
Under such programs only the best students will be selected to represent Azerbaijan. Students are of course allowed to choose their country of preference, within the spots available.
When it comes to state programs, the state usually takes care of all students’ expenses. The idea here is to ensure that Azerbaijan will get the professionals it needs to make the country more prosperous and vibrant.
Azerbaijan is one of the few countries where young people have an opportunity to study abroad on the government’s dime.
For the moment two options exist.
The first option is that the Education Ministry of Azerbaijan is financing the program. Under this program 200 students every year get an opportunity to start their education abroad.
The second option is financing within the limits of the State program for the Azerbaijani students education in 2007-2015. The state oil fund of Azerbaijan SOFAZ provides this financing.
As for the educational preferences of Azerbaijani students, 80 percent have expressed a desire to study humanities. For the moment 26.9 percent study medicine, 15 percent- social sciences and humanities, 8.6 percent – information technologies, 5.6 percent- natural sciences, 2. 4 percent -service sector and 2 percent -agriculture and construction.