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Astana, Kazakhstan • 09 November 2023

Trends in Higher Education in Kazakhstan: Which Majors Are Popular Among Men and Women?

Navigating Kazakhstan's educational landscape: data on enrollment ratios and gender distribution across educational institutions and specializations

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Collage by QazMonitor

Education is a fundamental pillar of national development, and Kazakhstan has made substantial strides in strengthening its educational landscape.

QazMonitor analyzed the report published by the Bureau of National Statistics, to find out how the gender distribution changed in the last five years, assess the total enrollment in higher institutions and identify the majors predominantly favored by women and men.

Enrollment ratios for higher education

In recent years, Kazakhstan's educational landscape has been marked by a mix of progress and challenges in enrollment ratios.

According to a recent report published by the Bureau of National Statistics, the gross enrollment ratio for higher education, which gauges the number of students enrolled in technical and vocational institutions and universities regardless of age relative to the population of the total population aged 18-22, has fluctuated. In 2018, the index stood at a promising 60.73%, but by 2021, it had dipped to 52.64%. There was a positive rebound in 2022, climbing to 59.13%.

As for the gender distribution, in 2018, 53.8% of students studying in higher education programs were women. The figure remained relatively unchanged in the following four years except for the percentage in 2019 when the gap between the numbers of male and female students was the smallest— 49.8% and 50.2% respectively.

As of the beginning of ‘22-’23 academic year, 308.6 thousand women and 269.7 thousand men were studying in higher education programs.

Distribution across educational institutions

As of the beginning of the 2022/2023 academic year, Kazakhstan accommodated a total of 4.972 thousand students in all education programs, with an almost equal split between men (50.2%) and women (49.8%). Despite that, female students outnumbered males in most types of programs except for general education schools and technical and vocational education.

Depending on the type of education program, the gender distribution was as follows:

General Education Schools: These institutions enrolled 1.817 thousand female students and 1.892 thousand male students, with women constituting 49% of the student body.

Technical and Vocational Education: Approximately 251.1 thousand female students and 274.8 men pursued technical and vocational education, constituting 47.8% to 52.2% respectively.

Higher Educational Institutions: With a total enrollment of 578.3 thousand students, 53.4% were women, and 46.6% were men.

Master's Programs: In 2022, four out of ten master’s students were women (61%)

Doctoral Programs: Men accounted for over a third of the total enrolled in doctoral programs — 22.8 thousand comprising 37%, compared to 38.8 thousand women

Residency Programs: Similarly to Master’s Programs, women represented 60.2% of total resident students, while men constituted 39.8%.

Distribution across educational specializations as of the beginning of the 2022/2023 academic year

In technical-vocational institutions, the distribution of students across fields of study exhibits gender-based variations.

In general, women have taken a prominent role in education, constituting a majority of the student body at 70.5%. Their presence is especially evident in fields like Medicine and Pharmacy (74%), Metrology, Standardization, and Certification (72.1%), and Arts and Culture (63.7%). These areas underscore the substantial contribution of women to Kazakhstan's educational landscape.

On the other hand, some fields exhibit strong male participation. Geology, Mining, and Extraction of Minerals (84.3%), Energy (91.8%), and Metallurgy and Mechanical Engineering (87.5%) feature significant male enrollments. In Construction and Utilities, men constitute 81.3% of the student body.

In higher education, a similar diversity exists in the distribution of students across fields of study.

With 114,650 students in total in Education, women account for over two-thirds of the total student body, reflecting a strong presence in shaping the future of the country's education system. This trend extends to several other fields as well, such as Arts and Humanities (72.1%), Social Sciences, Journalism, and Information (78.7%), and Services, Economics, and Management (50.7%). In these areas, women have demonstrated not only a keen interest but also a substantial presence.

In contrast, fields like Business, Management, and Law showcase gender parity, with women representing 49.2% and men 50.8% among the 86,618 students. In contrast, fields like Engineering, Manufacturing, and Construction show a strong male presence, with 69% of students being men. Additionally, Information and Communication Technology (ICT) specialties reveal a striking imbalance, with men comprising a significant 73.4% of the students.

This diverse distribution of students across different academic fields reflects Kazakhstan's commitment to providing educational opportunities aligned with the nation's economic, social, and cultural aspirations. Each field contributes significantly to the country's development, nurturing a versatile and adaptable workforce. As Kazakhstan continues to invest in its education system and promote academic diversity, its students will be better prepared to tackle the multifaceted challenges of the future, furthering the nation's growth and development.

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