Volume 16, Issue 4
The Changing Structure of Higher Education in Mongolia
Baasanjav, Begzjav Munkhbaatar
|Associate’s degree (3yrs)||
Academic degrees (bachelor's, master's and doctorate) are awarded by colleges and universities. The academic content of higher education is measured by credit hours.
Duration of study (year)
Content (credit hour)
Not less than 3 years
Not less than 90
Not less than 4 years
Not less than 120 hours
Not less than 5.5 years
Not less than 150 hours
Not less than 8.5 years
Not less than 210 hours
* Hours = credit hours
The Ministry of Science, Technology, Education and Culture (MSTEC) is the central administrating body that formulates nationwide education policy and sets the standard for each level of formal education. The ministry is also responsible for scheduling the school year, preparing and publishing textbooks for general secondary education and administering state examination procedures. In addition, the ministry is grants licenses to all new higher-education institutions, and is responsible for setting general provisions for teaching and research.
In recent years, Mongolian institutions of higher education have been expanding their relations with other institutions abroad. During the 2002-03 academic year, 363 foreign students from 18 countries enrolled at Mongolian universities and colleges, 21 of whom were re-trainees.
Moreover, each year the government sends approximately 300 Mongolian students, including 116 re-trainees, abroad for higher education studies.
3.1 MSTEC Priorities for Higher Education
To create an environment suitable for implementing flexible and multi-dimensional curricula
To bring quality control and auditing standards up to international levels
To take into special consideration the issues regarding credit transfer between Mongolian and foreign schools, and the mutual recognition of higher-education programs, diplomas and degrees
Raising efficiency levels in higher education through restructuring of university management
3.2 National Policies on Recognition of Educational Documents, Bilateral and Multilateral Agreements and Issues Concerning the Recognition of Studies, Diplomas and Degrees in Higher Education
The Mongolian government is currently devoting much time and energy to establishing a policy for the recognition of foreign higher-education programs, diplomas and degrees. Currently, there is no law in existence to regulate the policy coordination of this issue.
The MSTEC has been making special efforts over the past two years to establish an agreement for the recognition of foreign higher-education documents. For example, bilateral agreements have been signed with Cuba and China. This year, preliminary measures have been made to establish a similar agreement with the Russian Federation. Likewise, provisions for establishing agreements with Ukraine, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic and Slovakia are currently under way.
In the face of rapidly escalating globalization, the creation of mechanisms for recognizing internationally earned diplomas and degrees, and the implementation of strategic measures to fight against fraudulent education documents, are among the most critical issues facing the education sector in Mongolia.
3.3 Recent Reforms in Higher Education
Until recently, higher education in Mongolia remained under strict state supervision. Since the late 1980s, however, the country's educational system has gradually been adopting more democratic structures. Presidents of higher-education institutions, for instance, are now elected by academic staff. In addition, academic freedom and institutional autonomy have increased significantly over the past decade and are now protected by law. The ministry maintains authority to appoint its representatives to the governing boards of the state-owned institutions and to implement its policies through board decisions.
Prior to 1993, education at all levels was fully subsidized by the government and offered free of charge. Beginning that year, higher education fees for students were introduced. However, while most students are now required to pay tuition fees, the government continues to provide financial assistance in the form of grants and loans to students from low-income families and to those who demonstrate outstanding academic ability.
In addition, public institutions receive state funding for facility maintenance costs. The institution must be accredited to be eligible for government financial support.
3.4 Conference of Degrees and Titles
Before 1995, undergraduate degrees were conferred by the MSTEC while graduate degrees were conferred by the Supreme Council for Academic Degrees and Titles, which was chaired by the minister of education and comprised of academics from different fields. In 1995, however, the promulgation of a higher-education law allowed diplomas and degrees (both undergraduate and graduate) to be conferred directly by the institutions that offer the programs.
4. Accredited Higher-Education Institutions
Public Higher-Education Institutions
6. Mongolian University of Arts and Culture
7. Mongolian University of Agriculture
8. National University of Mongolia (Hovd province branch)
9. Medical College in Gobi-Altai province
10. Medical College in Dornogobi province
12. Institute of Finance and Economics
13. Cultural College
14. Technical College in Darkhan Uul province
15. Plant Science, Agricultural Research and Training Institute of Mongolian State University of Agriculture, Darkhan Uul province
16. Medical College in Darkhan Uul province , Medical University
17. Ulaan Baatar Medical College
18. Institute of Economics in Zabkhan province, branch of the National University of Mongolia
19. Ulaanbaatar University
20. National University of Mongolia (Orkhon province branch)
21. Institute of Fine Arts
22. Construction College
23. School of Technology in Darkhan Uul province
24. Teacher Training College of the Mongolian Special Pedagogical University, Arkhangai province
25. Food Technology College
26. School of Technology under the Erdenet Concern, branch of the Mongolian University of Science and Technology
Private Higher-Education Institutions
4. Orkhon School
5. Mandah Burtgel Institute of Accounting
6. Otoch Manramba Institute
7. Ikh Zasag University
8. Mongolian National Institute of Physical Education
10. Seruulge Institute
11. Institute of International Economics and Business
12. Institute of Tourism Management
13. Shihihutug Law Institute
14. Tenger College
15. Ider Institute
16. Darkhan College
17. Euro-Asia Institute
18. Soyol-Erdem Institute
19. College of Social Studies
20. Ikh Mongol Institute
21. Ulaan Baatar-Erdem-Oyu College
For further information please visit the Web site of Mongolia's National Council for Higher Education Accreditation
5. Characteristics of Degrees and Diploma
Types of Degrees and Diplomas
Until quite recently, Mongolian institutions of higher education offered mainly undergraduate programs leading to the award of a higher-education diploma with the title of “specialist.” Since 1993, under both the Education Law and the Higher-Education Law, the structure of higher education has been reorganized into a two-tiered (undergraduate--gradate) system consisting of bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral (Ph.D.) studies.
the Mongolian Academy of Sciences,
a special education organization, which promotes research in science and
technology, was recently authorized to confer the degree of Doctor
of Science for outstanding contribution to the scientific fields.
In this sense, the Doctor of Science is not so much a degree as it is
a title indicating distinguished achievement.
Information Contained in the Degree Document
The document certifying an academic degree is called the diploma. Before the enactment of the current law, diplomas were issued by government authorities using a standardized format, which was approved by the education ministry. As of 1995, however, there has been no official format for diplomas, which are now issued individually by the higher-education institutions themselves.
However, the ministry does require that all diplomas include the following information: full name of the diploma holder, name of the program completed, title of the degree conferred, and name of the institution.
Additional information that may or may not appear on a diploma includes: names of courses taken by the holder, related credits and grades, and title and grades on final examinations or dissertation/thesis defense.
6. Practical Training
Practical training is an important part of the higher-education curriculum. Mongolian institutions of higher education offer several types of practical training. On-campus practical training includes seminars, supervised study projects, laboratory projects and learning practice. Off-campus practical training (under supervision in a workplace environment) includes technological training, observatory survey and pre-diploma independent practice.
Extensive practical training is required for medical, engineering, veterinary and performing arts programs. Up to 10 weeks of pre-diploma practical training is required for all undergraduate programs.
At the graduate level, practical training has a more research-oriented character. Both thesis and dissertation work require students to conduct independent research both on and off campus.
7. Grading and Evaluations
Assessment and grading of student performance and academic achievement are regulated by the relevant institutions of higher education. However, the ministry has directed universities and colleges to introduce an equalization formula, in order to standardize the grading system within Mongolia while at the same time making it compatible to that used internationally (i.e., A, B, C, D and F, with a figure equivalent of 4, 3, 2, 1 and 0).
Until 1998, a five-figure grading system was used in Mongolia, although in reality only four of them — specifically 5, 4, 3 and 2 (5 being highest and 2 corresponding to fail) — were used. In effect, grades previously used can easily be transferred to the new international system. It should be noted, parenthetically, that students who do not pass at least one course requirement are not awarded a degree.
Mijid Baasanjav is Director of Science, Technology and Higher
Ministry of Science, Technology, Education and Culture of Mongolia
Government Building III
Begzjav Munkhbaatar is Head of External Relations Department
Ministry of Science, Technology, Education and Culture of Mongolia
Government Building III
Udval Lkhamsuren is Director and Educational Adviser
Educational Advising and Resource Center
Children and Youth Library at the Cultural Palace
Ulaanbaatar- 46, Mongolia
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