Khazar University in Baku, Azerbaijan was founded in 1991 by Professor Hamlet Isaxanli. Its founding is significant, as it is the first private university in Azerbaijan and it was founded during the country’s period of transition from Soviet to independent rule.
For several years in the late 1980s, Hamlet Isaxanli did personal research on universities all around the world and spent time observing the education system in Azerbaijan. In the summer of 1990, he organized his ideas into an article called “Thoughts on Science and the Education System,” which was published in Russian in the "Bakinskiy Rabochiy" newspaper and then in Azerbaijani in the "Communist" newspaper. He realized that in his mind, a model for a new university in Azerbaijan was forming.
According to Isaxanli, success in the education sector would be achieved either by reforming existing institutions or by founding a new one, based jointly on West European and American models and on the local situation and traditions of Azerbaijan. He felt that founding a private university was a real possibility because of the growing signs of pluralism in the political and economic systems at that time, opening the possibility that something new would also be accepted in the education system. Isaxanli also felt that the new private university would be a good model for Azerbaijan, because it could make use of the experience of Western higher educational institutions but also take into account the specific needs and patterns of Azerbaijan.
In the fall of 1991, the university began teaching preparatory courses. Beginning from the spring semester in 1992, it operated out of a building that had previously been Baku's Kindergarten no. 240 in Ahmadli. In September 1992, the university was officially inaugurated in a ceremony at the National Opera and Ballet Theater and welcomed 200 students.
In Azerbaijan, Khazar University is recognized for providing innovative Western-style education at all levels: undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral. It also runs a lab school (Dunya School) with programs at kindergarten, elementary and secondary school levels.
Khazar University has a faculty body of about 200 lecturers, many of whom were educated and/or trained in Europe and the United States. Khazar University is the pioneer in Azerbaijan to have a flexible student-centered credit accumulation system. Khazar’s curricula meet the standards of the leading universities in advanced industrialized democracies. The primary language of instruction at Khazar is English. These factors aim to increase the academic and professional opportunities for the students and train them to work in a globalizing international environment.
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