Political Economy Analysis of Importing Higher Education: Russian International Branch Campuses in Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan has more International Branch Campuses (IBCs) than any other post-Soviet countries, which makes it fertile ground for researching the internationalization of higher education (HE). Within the last five years, the number of IBCs in Uzbekistan has increased more than fourfold reaching to 30. Russian universities account for the largest share of this surge. Until 2016, there were only three Russian IBCs, rising to 15 by 2022. Significantly, western countries such as the USA, the UK and Italy have only one IBC each, raising further questions as to why Uzbekistan is particularly relying on Russian universities to internationalize its HE system. The research aims to understand the factors influencing the expansion of Russian IBCs in Uzbekistan through a critical discourse analysis of relevant policy documents and interviews with university administrators and faculty at 3 IBCs in Uzbekistan. It will bring a critical political economy perspective in a field that is largely framed within a knowledge economy paradigm, as well as highlighting the under-researched perspective of the Central Asia region with a focus on Russian IBCs. To evaluate the changing HE landscape and the role of Russian IBCs, the 4Rs framework will be employed as a theoretical framework. This is a useful tool to examine the political processes of negotiation in policy-making in education. The framework can be helpful to learn whether the issues of equality, equity and justice are taken into consideration when establishing Russian IBCs, and whether they are serving to reduce legacies of conflict, past and present.

Research Team

Research Fellow

Sherzod Khaydarov

Sherzod Khaydarov