Government scholarships for international higher education: pathways for social change in Kazakhstan

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1 Citation (Scopus)


Globally, scholarships for international higher education play a critical role in human capital development. While substantial research has documented the benefits such scholarships provide for individuals, their impact on the creation of pathways for social change remains under-researched. This paper bridges this gap by examining the extent to which a government scholarship for international education has created pathways for social change in Kazakhstan. Data were collected through interviews with 67 scholarship alumni. Drawing on Dassin et al.’s (2018) framework for pathways to social change, the findings reveal that international education fosters social change in Kazakhstan in four ways. First, the scholarship program develops local talent and builds agents of change. Second, it widens access to international education, particularly for individuals from marginalized communities, who would otherwise lack access owing to their scarce financial resources. Third, the program develops alumni’s cosmopolitan and intercultural competencies and strengthens international collaborations. Finally, it creates associations and groups through which alumni can collectively contribute to society. The findings highlight that while the interviewed alumni foster strong patriotic feelings and are determined to contribute to the prosperity of their country, underdeveloped industries, economic volatility, and top-down bureaucracy in workplaces limit their potential contributions to social changes. These findings may help policymakers and administrators to reconsider and improve on the design and structure of scholarship programs.

Original languageEnglish
JournalHigher Education
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2023


  • Government scholarship
  • Higher education
  • International education
  • Kazakhstan
  • Scholarship programs
  • Social change

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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