UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies (SSEES)


Do Study Abroad Programs Change Corruption Norms? The Case of the Bolashak International Scholarship

13 December 2021, 2:00 pm–3:00 pm

 A person graduating

A SSEES Research Student Seminar with Malika Toqmadi, PhD candidate at UCL SSEES and Marie Skłodowska-Curie Innovative Training Network Fellow Early Stage Researcher

This event is free.

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Large-scale study-abroad education programs for developing countries have been sponsored by states and international organisations for decades. Many of those programs are based on the underlying assumption that they are investing not only in quality education, but more importantly in the future elites, which through exposure to the international (mostly Western) culture would bring home good practices. Similarly, scholars of corruption often discuss the ‘culture of corruption’ and ‘corruption norms’ that make corruption acceptable, describing among other things the importance of anti-corruption trainings and education as means of “reducing corruption even in corrupt cultures”. There were little studies however on how those changes occur, what are the determinants and mechanisms of these processes, and especially how students themselves perceive those changes. To find answers to those questions, I examine the case of Kazakhstan's international scholarship ‘Bolashak’ established in 1993  to provide full scholarships to young Kazakhs to study at the top universities around the world in hopes that, in the words of one of the local commentators, “young blood might be immune to corrupt forms of personal enrichment”.  

Image credit: RUT MIIT on Unsplash