Efforts to shift oil-rich Kazakhstan towards renewable energy will be the focus of an international research and teaching partnership between the country’s Eurasian Technological University (ETU) and Abertay University.
Dr Kairzhan Abdykhalykov, Vice Rector on Strategic Development of ETU, visited Abertay in Dundee to discuss initial strategies for a project which he hopes could lead to greater use of renewable energy sources in his home nation.
According to the academic, businesses in Kazakhstan are poised to invest in the renewables sector.
However there is currently no skilled workforce and the higher education offering remains firmly on conventional oil and gas and engineering courses.
Thanks to funding from the Erasmus+ programme for staff mobility and knowledge exchange, a partnership has been forged between the two universities.
In addition to research the partnership will focus on the sharing of best practice in teaching and learning methods.
Abertay’s Dr Anastasia Koulouri and Dr Nikolai Mouraviev of Dundee Business School have both participated in previous research seminars into how renewables could be introduced in Kazakhstan, led by University colleague Professor Reza Kouhy.
It was through this work that a relationship with Dr Abdykhalykov and Almaty-based ETU developed.
“This is the first visit to Abertay from ETU and we have used it to identify which direction the project will take,” Dr Abdykhalykov said.
“We will devote the research to renewable energy and related research issues, as well as having a focus on exchanging teaching and learning.”
“Renewable energy is one of the main priorities in Kazakhstan and by territory we are a very large country - so the potential for using solar energy is very high but we don’t have a pipeline of renewable energy specialists.”
“There is demand from local and internationally-focused companies for such expertise and that’s why we are now looking to collaborate with Abertay and share knowledge to explore these areas.”
While in Dundee, Dr Abdykhalykov met with Professor Steve Olivier, Vice-Principal and Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) and Professor Gavin Reid, Head of Dundee Business School to discuss future avenues for collaboration, including the launches of Abertay’s new Global MBA, and new Masters in Energy.
He also met with Abertay’s Teaching and Learning Enhancement team, viewed the cutting-edge technology available in the Collaborative Learning Suite and took away a range of ideas for implementation.
Reciprocal teaching visits by three Abertay academics are scheduled to take place by September next year.
Dr Koulouri said: “This project is underpinned by previous individual projects with a focus on energy, funded through the British Council.”
“We will now take steps to build on this partnership with ETU.”
Dr Mouraviev added: “Dr Koulouri and I developed a particular interest in renewable energy in Kazakhstan and we now want to further that through additional research.”
“We are researching the impediments to renewable energy in the country given the high dependency on oil.”