What's new in Mongolian education

August 27, 2013
  • AACRAO Connect
  • International Education

What’s new in Mongolian education, and how can my institution connect with Mongolian students who are interested in studying in the USA? Those are the questions addressed at Tuesday's presentation on Mongolian education at the AACRAO Annual Meeting in San Francisco (Session 307). 

Ann M. Koenig, Associate Director and foreign credential evaluator in AACRAO’s International Education Services office, shared updates on the educational system of Mongolia, based on information received from several trusted sources, including the Mongolian Ministry of Education and Science. In addition, Ms. Sayamaa Dangaasuren, EducationUSA advisor at the Educational Advising Resource Center in Ulaanbataar, Mongolia, shared information about the many services and resources that are available to students in Mongolia who wish to study in the United States, including scholarship opportunities. Handouts for Annual Meeting sessions, including this one, are accessible from the “Session Handouts” link on the AACRAO Annual Meeting Web site.


Updates in Primary and Secondary Education

A process of reform has been continuing in Mongolia since the change to a democratic system after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. In the primary-secondary sector, the former 10-year system in which children began school at age 8 has been expanded to a 12-year system in which children begin school at age 6. This restructuring and curriculum reform, which began in 2004, will bring the Mongolian system in alignment with many of its Asian neighbors and the general world standard. The first cohort to complete the 12-year system will graduate in 2020. In 2006, a General Examination was introduced in the final year of secondary school, as an admissions tool used by higher education institutions.


Updates in Higher Education

In Mongolian higher education, the Soviet-based system was replaced by a structure that is similar to the US system: four-year bachelor degree, followed by a master and doctorate. The five-year professional degree programs in dentistry, pharmacy, and veterinary medicine remain, while medicine also remains a six-year program. The higher education grading system (letter grades A through F, corresponding to grade points 4.0 through 0.0) and the credit system (30 credits per full-time year) also mirror the US system. 

With the introduction of the new democratic system, the administrative structure was decentralized and public funding for education was cut, just as private education was allowed. This combination resulted in an explosion in the number of higher education institutions (HEI's), without a quality control mechanism. During the Communist era, there had been only seven HEI's. In 1992 alone, seven new private institutions were opened, and by 1996 there were 57 private institutions. The 1995 law on higher education established definitions of the types of HEIs and the scope of their authority to award degrees, and laid the groundwork for an accreditation system. 

The Mongolian National Council for Education Accreditation (MNCEA) awarded the first institutional accreditations in 1999. By 2007, there were 170 HEI's operating legally, including universities, institutes, and colleges (many former vocational schools that had been upgraded to tertiary level), as well as six branches of foreign institutions. Today the MNCEA Web site lists 69 accredited HEI's. Program accreditation began in 2008, and currently 104 higher education programs are accredited. 

Eighty percent of Mongolia's HEI's are located in the capital city, Ulaanbataar. Today about 90% of the higher education students in Mongolia are enrolled at the undergraduate level. Private HEI's enroll about 35% of the Mongolian higher education student popluation.


EducationUSA in Mongolia

EducationUSA is a network of hundreds of advising centers in 170 countries, where students can access impartial, comprehensive, and current information about how to apply to accredited US colleges and universities. Many services are offered at no charge to the students. The EducationUSA network is supported by the US Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA). EducationUSA advisers and staff work with US higher education professionals to promote international student enrollment. EducationUSA also helps promote study abroad opportunities for US citizens.

The Educational Advising Resource Center (EARC) in Ulaanbataar offers many advising services for Mongolian students, including individual and group advising sessions, open house events, and email and online advising. The center also organizes university fairs and virtual meetings, and through its liaison work with local high schools and HEI’s, offers document verification services. In addition, there are four EducationUSA centers in Mongolia that offer mainly reference materials, with minimal advising services. Because of the vast distances between cities in Mongolia, outreach activities are an important part of EducationUSA’s role in Mongolia.

In the 2011-12 academic year there were about 1200 student visa holders from Mongolia in the United States, about 2/3 of them at the undergraduate level. Some scholarships are available for study in the US. US admissions offices are welcome to contact the EARC in Ulaanbataar to find out more about opportunities to connect with potential Mongolian applicants.


By: AACRAO Connect



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