Higher education in Tajikistan has undergone substantial changes over the past 25 years as a result of both its internal crises and those social and economic transition challenges seen throughout the Newly Independent States (NIS). HEIs in the country have also shown eagerness to change and grow as they move toward world education space. In this chapter, we examine the evolution of the Tajik system of higher education from the Soviet time through independence (1991–2015) in terms of growth, emerging landscape and diversification, and key policy developments and issues. We analyze these changes in the context of relevant economic, social and political factors, and rely on a comparative analysis in understanding the commonalities and differences in higher educational landscapes between Tajikistan and others in the NIS. Institutional diversity has occurred in the country along several dimensions. Among these is a geometric expansion of the number of HEIs: Those transformed from preexisting Soviet institutes as well as the establishment of many new ones. This has been fueled partly by the mass creation of new programs that reflect the needs of an emerging knowledge-based economy but also the result of parental craving for higher education for their children—regardless of market demands. Specific features of the massification of higher education in Tajikistan are further explained by internationalization according to the Bologna Process and other globalization agendas; the establishment of international HEIs under bilateral government agreements (with Russia), and significantly increasing HEI programs and enrolments in far-flung regions of the country—especially in programs related to industry and technology. Our analyses are based on a variety of official statistical sources; educational laws, institutional documents and reports published by international organizations; accounts from the English-language press; and open-ended interviews conducted by the authors in Tajikistan between 2011 and 2014.

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Published in 25 Years of Transformations of Higher Education Systems in Post-Soviet Countries. J. Huisman, A. Smolentseva, & I. Froumin, (Eds.). p. 363-385.

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