Eurasian Higher Education Leaders’ Forum 2020

Venue: Nazarbayev University, Nur-Sultan Сity, Kazakhstan

In this 10th anniversary edition, EHELF aims to address important questions affecting higher education spurred by rapid advances in digital technologies. While industries and job markets are profoundly affected by technological disruption, higher education institutions (HEI) also have to face the same technological disruption and change. Whether future universities will be characterized as “university 2.0” (i.e. an update and reset of today’s university) or “university 4.0”(a deeper disruption analogous to “industry 4.0”), we probably can all agree that universities themselves will be subject to profound questioning, but are they, are we ready? Whence, the EHELF title “University *.0. Ready?” EHELF’s thematic direction builds on topics discussed over the last few years, in particular our themes from 2018: “Innovating Higher Education in the Age of Disruption” and 2019: “Future Ready Graduates”.

Universities and other HEIs must manage the increasing tension between clinging to a traditional model of HEI versus the pressure to reinvent themselves: reinvent the curriculum, degree structure, pedagogy, the classroom environment, faculty profile, and hiring and promotion practices. Research universities increasingly have to compete with big and small technology firms for global talent. Doing justice to both, fundamental and applied science will become an increasingly difficult balancing act as universities must respond to diverging interests of stakeholders. Furthermore, ethical dimensions must not be allowed to take a backseat in the quest for technology infused scientific discovery that may test the limits of what it is to be human. This year, we have prepared a series of interesting sessions related to the main theme “University *.0. Ready?” on the following tracks:

  • Track 1 “Meaning of smart systems for Universities”.

Through keynote addresses and panel discussions, experts will debate what universities will have to anticipate and do to thrive in a world of smart/intelligent systems. Universities have to ask themselves what and how they will teach when so much is linked to technology. What type of classrooms would universities want to foster? Importantly, what does it mean to pursue a holistic education? Do universities consider their primary vocation to educate students so that they become responsible citizen who contribute to society’s development and well-being?

  • Track 2 “Age of machines: what makes us human?”

Ever-increasing computing power, improving algorithms, and a wealth of data can combine to yield beneficial results, for instance in medicine, in the form of more precise imaging, improved diagnostics, better treatment pathways, and the discovery of new drugs. Personalized medicine will become a reality for many. AI driven smart systems will also play a bigger role in routine daily life as well in professional environments. They will help organize traffic flow more efficiently and prevent accidents; they will also help farmers to plant and produce more effectively. This is the benign story about technology. Yet, scientists and experts point out that technology, if unchecked, may also lead to catastrophic consequences. Some critics already imagine a dystopian future where AI and artificial general intelligence aided by robots rule the world and subject human beings to their whims.

Education will play a critical role in guiding us into the future: it must play a fundamental role in imbuing students with values as well as moral, ethical codes and a sense of what it means to be human – however, this is easier said than done. How can education ensure that new technologies will continue to be beneficial to society?

  • Track 3 “Global and local: Does location matter?”

Tracks 1 and 2 provoke a number of questions related to location and the age-old quest for “global significance and local relevance”. In recent years one of the most dramatic impacts of technology on higher education has been the reduction of geographic barriers to participation. Online delivery of high quality courses mean that any student with a reliable internet connection can access courses from the leading providers in the world often at low or no cost. These new competitors will inevitably drive many traditional providers out from the market and change the dynamics for those that remain. Will leading local or regional universities remain competitive against the world’s best universities when location ceases to matter? Or is this a false premise, and location will continue to matter, only differently? Will a few massive global brands in a handful of countries dominate at the expense of local and regional HEIs? How can HEIs be promoted and flourish in the majority of the world regions that risk being left behind? Is it possible to create boutique brands in the global marketplace? Can a new research university in Kazakhstan with global ambitions leverage its unique geography to gain a set at the table? How can it establish its bona fides as a serious research university? This Track will engage speakers and the audience to debate these issues of global importance and local relevance.

EHELF strives to bring together global and national higher education leaders, experts, researchers, business executives and other stakeholders to address themes of paramount importance for any institution tasked to educate and develop future generations of leaders and thoughtful citizens.

Who can participate?

The Forum is open to universities’ administration, faculty, researchers, representatives of government bodies, employers, education associations and societies, students, as well as all those who want to share their ideas, knowledge and experience in education.


The languages of the conference are English, Kazakh, and Russian. For your convenience, the devices for simultaneous interpreting will be available at the registration desks. The interpretation will be offered in 3 languages: Kazakh, Russian, and English. Please note that you can check out the simultaneous interpretation equipment only if you present your ID card (passport/national identity card).

Speakers All Speakers


This year’s event focused on the readiness of higher education institutions to prepare students for the changing nature of work environment and their capacity to develop future leaders and good citizens. Today institutions are challenged to maximize the value they bring to students, which increasingly implies internationalization of learning experiences, opportunities to participate in research, provision of lifelong learning opportunities and a strong portfolio of trusted partnerships with leading industry players, to name a few elements. Sessions focused on following sub-themes:

  • HEI challenge: changing job market;
  • Global imperative and local relevance;
  • HEI value proposition: future leaders;
  • Future Ready HEI;
  • Lifelong Learning: never stop asking;
  • Shaping the industry-academia ecosystem.

Full Information


June 6

  • Venue: Block C3
  • 08:20-09:00
  • Registration

Full information

Sessions on Sharing Nazarbayev University Experience

Full information
Full information
Full information
Get our official event app
For Blackberry or Windows Phone, Click here