Frequently Asked Questions about the University of Central Asia (UCA)

1What is UCA?
The University of Central Asia (UCA) was founded in 2000 as a private, not for profit, secular university. UCA consists of three schools including the School of Arts and Sciences, the Graduate School of Development (Institute of Public Policy and Administration, Mountain Societies Research Institute, Cultural Heritage and Humanities Unit), and the School of Professional and Continuing Education. UCA also includes the Central Asian Faculty Development Programme, and the Aga Khan Humanities Project.


2Why was UCA Created?
The mission of UCA is to promote the social and economic development of Central Asia, particularly its mountain communities, by offering an internationally recognised standard of higher education, and enabling the peoples of the region to preserve their rich cultural heritage as assets for the future.

UCA seeks to contribute leadership, ideas, and innovations to the transitioning economies and communities of the region through educational and vigorous research programmes that produce knowledgeable, skilled, and creative graduates.


3Where is UCA located? Why?
UCA's undergraduate programmes are located at its residential campuses in Naryn, Kyrgyzstan, and Khorog, Tajikistan. The Tekeli campus in Kazakhstan is expected to start classes in 2021/2022. By locating the campuses in secondary cities and rural settings, UCA hopes to be at the heart of an intellectual and economic transformation in the region.

UCA's School of Professional and Continuing Education is located in 12 learning centres throughout Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and Afghanistan. Centres are located in Naryn, Bishkek, Dushanbe (2), Khorog, Tekeli, Darwaz, Faizabad, Shugnan, Ishkashim (2) and Zebak.


4Who will attend UCA?
Undergraduate students come from rural and urban areas of Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran and Syria. UCA's applications are open to all students from Central Asia and abroad. UCA is establishing itself as a centre for regional and mountain studies, and is attracting faculty from the region and around the world. Through the School of Continuing and Professional Education and cross-border programmes, UCA is also reaching students beyond the borders of UCA's Founding States: Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan.


5What kind of courses does UCA offer?
UCA currently offers degree programmes through its undergraduate School of Arts and Sciences and Graduate School of Development. UCA also offers pre-university, vocational, professional development and distance education courses for students and professionals beyond the three UCA campuses.


6Who are the Founders of UCA?
UCA was founded through an International Treaty signed by the Presidents of the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, and Kazakhstan, and His Highness the Aga Khan; ratified by their respective parliaments, and registered with the United Nations. The Presidents are the Patrons of the University and His Highness is the Chancellor. UCA is governed by the Board of Trustees.


7Who is His Highness the Aga Khan?
His Highness the Aga Khan, a direct lineal descendant of the Prophet Muhammad, through his daughter Fatima and her husband Ali bin Abu Talib, the Prophet’s cousin, is the 49th hereditary Imam, or spiritual leader of the Shia Ismaili Muslim community. The Ismailis are a culturally diverse community spread across the globe, including South and Central Asia, China, the Middle East, Iran, Sub-Saharan Africa, Western Europe and North America. A statesman and philanthropist, His Highness the Aga Khan represents a centuries-old tradition of leadership associated with his office to encourage human development through individual self-fulfillment as the key to social harmony and progress. The Aga Khan is the founder and Chancellor of The Aga Khan University (AKU) in Karachi, Pakistan, the first private university in the country. Founded in 1983, AKU is now a thriving academic and training institution with a range of facilities and programmes. His Highness the Aga Khan is also the founder of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN).


8What is AKDN and how does it relate to UCA?
The Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) is a group of private, non-denominational development agencies addressing a range of development issues including health, education, architecture, rural development and the promotion of civil and private sector initiatives all over the world. The AKDN's agencies collaborate in working towards a common goal - building institutions and programmes that can respond to the dynamic challenges of social, economic and cultural change. Active in over 30 countries in Europe, Asia, Africa and North America, the Network's institutions work for the common good of all citizens, regardless of origin, gender or religion. UCA is an active member of this network, focusing on education, culture and economic development.
> Learn more


9Is UCA a Religious University?
No. UCA is a secular institution of higher education embracing no religion or creed and open to men and women of all faiths and traditions, or no religious beliefs, purely on the basis of merit.

UCA operates within a framework of values that espouses academic excellence, individual rights and security, responsibility to community and public service, and ethical and transparent operations of government and business.


10Who is paying for UCA?
UCA is an expensive endeavor, requiring the support of many. The governments of Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan have all contributed land and extended various fiscal benefits. They will continue to support UCA's fund-raising efforts over time. His Highness the Aga Khan has already contributed to an endowment fund which will be expanded. Other donors include international donor agencies, governments, foundations, corporations and individuals.


11Is there financial assistance for undergraduate students?
Education at UCA is heavily subsidised, and once admitted on merit, a student's financial constraint is not a barrier to quality education. UCA's generous financial aid programme ensures that admission is based solely on merit, and the ability to pay fees is not a consideration during the selection process. Once a student is admitted, financial assistance is guaranteed. Assistance takes the form of scholarships, grants, and interest-free loans. Full scholarships are also awarded to meritorious students from Central Asia (Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Kazakhstan) on a competitive basis.
Learn more about Scholarships, Grants and Fees


12What language will UCA courses be taught in?
To ensure that graduates have access to global ideas and emerging knowledge, English will be the language of instruction for all degree courses. Non-degree courses will be in Russian or in Kazakh, Kyrgyz or Tajik, depending on where they are offered.


13Why would I choose UCA?
UCA will offer world-class education for intellectual and professional development using teaching, research and study methods that encourage critical thinking, initiative, creativity, leadership, and civic responsibility. UCA will have residential and academic environments in the most beautiful regions in the world, creating unique live laboratories for the study of mountain regions and cultures. UCA students and staff will have opportunities to contribute to the social and economic development of Central Asia; and benefit from links to local communities, regional governments, international organisations and international academic partners.


14How can I apply to UCA?
Apply to UCA in three steps, and visit How to Apply for more information.

  1. Complete the UCA Application Form online; or download and send with relevant documents to apply@ucentralasia.org or in person
  2. Take UCA's English, mathematics and logic admission tests
  3. Shortlisted candidates must submit recommendation forms, a financial aid application and undergo interviews

To register or apply to UCA's School of Professional and Continuing Education or Aga Khan Humanities Project courses, please contact UCA near you.


15How can I apply to work at UCA?
There are - and there will be - many employment opportunities at UCA. To ensure excellence, diversity and global perspectives, hiring is being done locally, regionally and internationally. If you are interested in a position at UCA, please visit our website to see UCA's open positions, or send a cover letter and your resume to hr.recruitment@ucentralasia.org. To receive job openings directly to your inbox, subscribe to UCA's mailing list today.

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