Kazakhstan’s institutions of higher education prepare specialists in different spheres of agriculture, science and culture on the basis of secondary education. They also pursue the scientific and research work of theoretical and practical character. Institutions of higher education improve the qualification of the teachers of higher and secondary schools, specialists on national economy, health care and culture.
Institutions of higher education include universities, academics, institutes, conservatoires and others.
The first institutions of higher education were opened in Kazakhstan in 1919–1920 and, consequently, during all the time in many regions of the country new institutions appeared. By 2001 approximately 265 thousand students studied in all the institutions of higher education of the Republic of Kazakhstan.
In 2001 the bill of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan «On giving the special status to some state institutions of higher education» was adopted. The institutions of higher education having the special status will acquire the sufficient degree of academic liberty allowing them to perform an active educational, methodological and scientific work concerning the development of the system of education.
Nowadays, according to this document the special status is given to eight institutions of higher education. They are:
1.Al Farabi Kazakh national university;
2.L. N. Gumilyov Eurasian national university;
3.Kazakh national agrarian university;
4.K. I. Satpayev Kazakh national technical university;
5.S. D. Asfendiyarov Kazakh national medical university;
6.Т. К. Zhurgenov Kazakh national Academy of Arts;
7.Kurmangazy Kazakh National Conservatory;
8.Kazakh national Academy of Music.
At the same time, institutions of military education of the Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Kazakhstan belong to the institutions of higher education. They are intended to prepare commanders, engineers, technicians and specialists for military force and improve their qualification.
Among the institutions of higher education the non-state sector of higher education plays more important role. The first non-state institutions appeared in the country just after the proclamation of sovereignty of the Republic of Kazakhstan. During ten years of its development the non-state sector of professional education started playing a noticeable role in the common system of education. By the beginning of 2001 there were 121 non-state institutions of higher education in the country having the state certificate for preparation of specialists with higher education. The number of non-state institutions of higher education makes up about 73% of the total number of institutions, the number of students is nearly 29%. Private institutions of higher education immediately react to the change of demand in the demand of specialists, do not require budget financing, and assist the maximum approaching of the educational service to the place of permanent residence of students. Among the non-state institutions the most noticeable are the Almaty Institute of energetics and communication, the Almaty Abai university and Higher School Of Law «Adilet».