Can four Mongolian universities make the world’s top 100 by 2024?


When I heard that Mongolia’s education policy for this decade included aims to transform four Mongolian universities to become ranked among the top 100 in the world, I was speechless. The government doesn’t plan to fund universities, but it expects them to reach the top 100 on their own.
Our policy makers don’t seem to understand that they should plan a budget to implement any policy, or it won’t be implemented and will be rendered useless. Let’s look at an example. Three years ago, the public smoking law was amended. The second clause in the new version stated that it was forbidden to smoke in or outside of a kindergarten, any type of school, dormitories, hospitals, and clinics. In the fourth clause, it says that anyone who violates the new regulation will be fined 50,000 MNT.
Everyone is aware of people smoking outside universities, but who is supposed to catch these people and fine them 50,000 MNT within five to ten minutes of seeing them smoke in a prohibited area? The law states that the workers of the Governor’s Office, police officers, and state inspectors are given the right to fine the violators of this law. Surely, police officers have other things to do and they’re simply not going to wander and roam the streets to catch a person who is smoking, unless they’re paid to look after them. Or maybe a camera on school property could be helpful in implementing the law. Otherwise, this law makes no sense.
By producing poor laws that people can easily ignore, the government is encouraging residents to ignore laws and other social responsibilities in all walks of life. This new education policy is no different.
The education policy was adopted by the government and it is to be followed from 2014 to 2024. The government has not planned for any funds in the budget to implement this policy, as we can see from the way universities are funded. The authorities are acting and passing laws as if making four universities soar up to the top 100 can happen overnight. National University of Mongolia recently stood at 4,116 in a Spanish ranking of the world’s universities.
Due to a lack of funding from the government, Mongolia’s universities say they can’t help but increase tuition fees to alleviate increasing expenditure caused by inflation. It’s hard for universities to manage providing heat to their buildings without government funding, let alone reach top 100 ranking. As we Mongolians say, it sounds as impossible as biting the center of your palm.
Let’s look at one of the top universities in Mongolia, National University of Mongolia (NUM), and see how ready it is to reach top 100 ranking in eight years.
NUM dedicates its “fundamental fee”, an annual fee of 224,000 MNT paid by each student, to providing classroom repairs, heat, electricity and Wi-Fi, according to the school’s board of admissions. Note that NUM is the only university that collects this type of commission from its students, and I assume, the only university that offers classroom repairs, heat, electricity and Wi-Fi to its students with those dedicated funds.
Just last year, my feet froze during a class, thanks to the lack of heating in the lecture halls of NUM, supposedly the best university in Mongolia. Even my winter hiking boots couldn’t protect me from the cold. Even with all the increased fees, the learning environment at NUM is still not improving. Lecture halls that are scheduled for classes with 150 students can’t hold everyone because they don’t have enough desks. The lecture halls are without suitable projectors or a microphone. The rooms are distractingly cold or hot, depending on the season; like the trolleybuses in Mongolia, they are uncomfortable and unsatisfactory. The only difference is that I pay 300 MNT for a ride in a trolleybus while I pay 3 million MNT for my university education.
The basic policy implementation problem can be seen from the time NUM teachers arrive in their classrooms.
According to the teachers’ employment code at NUM, a teacher is expected to dedicate all of his or her work hours to completing a compulsory workload, but I have had several classes where the teachers don’t show up at all to a 7:40 am class, and it goes unnoticed.
NUM policy states that you have to wait 30 minutes for teachers holding a master’s degree, and for up to an hour for a teacher holding a doctoral degree. What kind of system is this, where an administrative board tells students to just sit and wait after they’ve paid all that money? We wait, and then we leave. No one cares whether the teacher comes on time except for the students, and teachers are held to no accountability when they miss their own classes.
On the other hand, at Mongolian University of Science and Technology (MUST), a teacher is fined for not arriving to class on time. The board is paid to look out for teachers who are not on time.
Mongolia adopted a liberal arts system at its universities starting last year. With the adoption of a new system, a thorough explanation or a manual would be useful. But none was provided at NUM. That’s not all though, the boards of admission of different schools within NUM reply differently when asked the same questions. We can’t expect students to figure things out on their own, because even the university can’t figure its changes out.
While NUM fails to inform its students and guide them, MUST has been doing the opposite.
I feel like not just NUM but also our government should learn from the supervision policies that MUST has. If any university in Mongolia ever reaches the top 100 ranking in the world with government funding status such as it is, I believe only MUST stands a chance. It makes sound policies, implements them, and supervises if they are being followed.
Adopting a system where implementation and enforcement of laws occurs is essential to Mongolia. We need to transition from a nation of words to a nation of actions.


Short URL: http://ubpost.mongolnews.mn/?p=15917

Posted by on Aug 25 2015. Filed under Opinion. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

5 Comments for “Can four Mongolian universities make the world’s top 100 by 2024?”

  1. mergejiliin setguulch gej er ni Mongold baina uu

  2. Logic where are you?

  3. I don’t understand how this sort of article is published at all. The title and content are completely different, and the piece reads as a tirade against the NUM’s policies, and comparing it to the supposedly better MUST. A high school-level article with a pasted-on conclusion section to better adhere to the original title is not what I expect from the UBPost, whose English section just seems like a Mongolian version of the Huffington Post, where anyone can just submit anything, with much worse copy-editing (if copy editing occurs at all) and with an outdated site design.

    Also, this statement: “NUM policy states that you have to wait 30 minutes for teachers holding a master’s degree, and for up to an hour for a teacher holding a doctoral degree” is simply false. There is no such policy, the only time I’ve heard anything similar is a joke by students if lecturers are late (which, unfortunately, is the case many times), the university administration however explicitly stated that this sort of rule does not exist, and any late lecturers should be reported.

    • Thanks for your feedback. This piece was published on our Opinion page, where tirades are welcome.

    • If articles such as this aren’t posted, how can there be a discussion at all regarding education in this country? The tertiary education institution as a whole in Mongolia is failing its constituents.

      When the entrance requirements are so low that monkeys guessing on keyboards can qualify, this is a failure. 400 on YESH. Really? I realize you need to pay your teachers, but sacrificing the quality of your education is like selling your soul in the education world. It’s like a guanz saying, “Whoops we are almost out of meat, throw in some paper, they won’t notice”.

      Mongolia can’t hope to have a top 100 university by 2050 while nearly 80% of graduating secondary school students enter university. In what country are so many students qualified to be the best, brightest, and future leaders of that country? The current system cheapens the diplomas the students receives so that they are essentially worthless. These diplomas don’t convey skills or any certainty as to the experience they possess.

      When a bank teller is required to have a bachelors degree, there is a problem…

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