Higher education in Azerbaijan

The higher education system in Azerbaijan

Recent policy updates and reforms

Projects and initiatives

Relevant links


The higher education system in Azerbaijan

In accordance with the Article 42 of the Constitution of the Republic of Azerbaijan everyone shall have the right to education.

For regulation of the higher education, the following laws are relevant:

  • Law on Education
  • Law on Amendments to the Education Law

Besides, the Government of the Republic of Azerbaijan adopted in 2012 the Development Concept “Azerbaijan 2020: Look into the Future” and in 2013 the Strategy for Development of Education in Azerbaijan by 2025, which determines the purpose, objectives/goals, directions, instruments and mechanisms for the development of education system in the Republic of Azerbaijan by 2025.

Higher education institutions for all levels of education may be state (public) and private. Educational institutions have equal status, regardless of ownership or founder’s identity. The State ensures the development of all educational institutions, including the private educational institutions, through giving them credits, allocating grants, and granting concessions to state educational institutions in accordance with the legislation.

Establishment and operation of educational institutions, both state and private, is monitored by the Ministry of Education and competent authorities. Any educational institution should receive a special permit (license) from the respective executive authority (Ministry of Economics) under the established legislation in order to provide educational activities. State educational institutions are issued special permanent permits (license). Private educational institutions founded by the individuals and legal entities of the Azerbaijan Republic are issued special permits (license) for a 5-year period.

Following the Recommendation of the European Commission (2006) and adoption by the European Parliament of the European Qualifications Framework for Lifelong Learning (2007), a Working Group on elaboration of the National Qualifications Framework for Lifelong Learning of the Republic of Azerbaijan (AzQF) was established in 2010 by the Order of the Minister of Education of Azerbaijan. In 2012 the draft AzQF was submitted to the Council of Europe for expertise. At present, the final version of the AzQF is submitted to the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Azerbaijan for approval.

Qualifications Framework for Lifelong Learning of the Republic of Azerbaijan is a tool for systematizing national qualifications, developed for all citizens - learners, education providers and employers and serves to facilitate the comparability between national and international qualifications.

The AzQF is conceptually developed in compliance with the criteria of the Qualifications Framework of the European Higher Education Area (QF-EHEA) and the European Qualifications Framework for Lifelong Learning (EQF).

The objectives of the AzQF are the following:

  • Improve the quality and transparency of qualifications;
  • Provide unified requirements for defining and assessing education standards and learning outcomes related to qualifications;
  • Take into account the existing needs of the society and labour market when defining qualifications, and hence improve national economic performance and promote relations between education and training sectors and the labour market;
  • Align national qualifications and qualifications levels  with the QF-EHEA and the EQF;
  • Support and promote the lifelong learning of Azerbaijani citizens, as well as promote non-formal and informal learning;
  • Support the national and international mobility of learners and workers through increased recognition of the quality and international comparability of qualifications awarded in Azerbaijan, as well as through improving the competitiveness and mobility of human resources;
  • Ensure the coherence of reforms in different sectors of education and training.


The AzQF has 8 levels and these levels define the relative complexity of the achieved learning outcomes. The level descriptors are defined by criteria expressed in statements of knowledge and understanding, skills, autonomy and responsibility. The level descriptors are used as benchmarks for classifying qualifications based on learning outcomes.

Qualifications of further education and training are placed on levels 3-8.  Further education and training ensures upgrading, improvement and diversification of competences obtained at the initial vocational, secondary specialised (sub-bachelor) and higher education levels. The documents certifying further education indicate the AzQF level and acquired competences.

The AzQF level descriptors are compatible with the corresponding EQF level descriptors. Generic descriptors of the Sub-bachelor’s qualification are compatible with the QF-EHEA short-cycle higher education level descriptors, generic descriptors of the Bachelor’s and basic higher medical education qualifications are compatible with the QF-EHEA first cycle descriptors, generic descriptors of the Master’s and postgraduate medical education (doctor-specialist) qualifications are compatible with the QF-EHEA second cycle descriptors and generic descriptors of the Doctoral qualifications are compatible with the QF-EHEA third cycle descriptors.

Higher education is governed by the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Azerbaijan.

The Cabinet of Ministers decides the education strategy, supervises implementation of the Law on Education and the relevant legislative acts and documents, as well as defines the regulations for the establishment, restructuring and liquidation of higher education institutions. Moreover, the Cabinet of Ministers establishes, restructures and closes vocational institutions, as well as approves the list of qualifications, education regulations and rules. It also makes certain proposals on the development of the budget and funds for the development of education and defines state standards for education funding, as well as regulations for scholarship and salary payment.

The Ministry of Education is the central executive body governing the education system of the country. It participates in the development and implementation of the state policy for education.

19 public higher education institutions of Azerbaijan are under the control of other ministries and executive bodies of the government (President Administration, Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Youth and Sport, Ministry of Health, Azerbaijan Caspian Shipping, “Azerbaijan Airlines (AZAL)” State Concern, Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Internal Affairs, Ministry of Emergency Situations, State Border Service, State Oil Company of the Azerbaijan Republic  (SOCAR), State Customs Committee).


Recent policy updates and reforms

New rules for assessment of students’ skills

At present, the students' knowledge is assessed by the Ministry of Education of Azerbaijan Republic, approved by the order no. 1059 and 1060 dated 11.09.2008 on the  "Exam subjects regulations on students studying under credit system” and "Regulation of students knowledge studying under credit system”. The above-mentioned temporary regulations is the first legistation that would require  the scoring system to evaluate students' knowledge after joining of the Bologna Process in 2005. In addition in 2009, adopted "Law on Education" the rules on student assessment are not authorized by Azerbaijan Republic Ministry of Education, but requires approval by the Cabinet of Ministers.

In case of the need to renew these bylaws and following the requirements of the “Law on Education” of the Azerbaijan Republic, the Ministry of Education in May of 2015 developed and submitted "certification of educational institutions, including the re-evaluation of students'” project to the Cabinet of Ministers for approval.

Deferment of military service for students who want to continue their education

High achievements in education are possible due to continuity and unity between different levels of education. Thus, admission to master's level of higher education of the young men that are subject to mobilization for military service significantly reduces interest to continue their education. According to official statistics, the number of boys in the 2013-2014 academic year of the master's degree - 2394 people in 2014-2015 - 1850 people, 1792 people were in 2015-2016. As it can be seen, the overall share of this category in the mass mobilization are negligible.

In addition to this, the knowledge and skills of master students that returned to the army during military service and the quality of their education subsequently diminish, the research skills are forgotten, and ultimately weakens our young people making them not interested in studying for their doctorate degree.

Given above-mentioned, a plea has been raised which is now being discussed in the Milli Majlis Committee on Science and Education on granting a deferment from military service to boy students that are pursuing full-time higher education, master's and doctoral levels of education.

Recent policy updates

1. "On the increase of scholarship amount to students of PhD in higher education, secondary and vocational education institutions" the Presidential Order 3108 dated 30 August, 2013 "On Amendments” by Azerbaijani President

2. Resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers dated on February 5, 2016, № 38 "PhD, universities, secondary and primary vocational education institutions, students and pupils of the procedure for appointment and payment of pensions''.


• To improve the quality of education is to create a competitive environment among learners;

• To increase their activitieness in the educational process;

• To stimulate interest in education;

• To ensure the appointment of a full scholarship.


Projects and initiatives

Azerbaijan has actively participated in the Tempus programme since 1995, when it joined the first Call of Tempus I-II phase (1996-1999), up until the 6th Call of Tempus IV phase in 2013. That was the last Call of Tempus IV phase (2008-2013), when the programme ceased to exist, i.e. it has been replaced by the Erasmus+ programme. Throughout the entire period (1995-2013) Tempus has been the largest financial instrument of support to the modernization of higher education in Azerbaijan and it provided, inter alia, teaching staff capacity building through mobility periods spent abroad. Institutions responsible for organization and coordination of mobility in the education system of Azerbaijan are the HEIs. The authority responsible for the overall internationalization policy developments is the Ministry of Education.

Azerbaijan has entered the Bologna process by the adoption of the Bologna Declaration in 2005 and the adoption of the Lisbon Recognition Convention in 2006. The objective of these actions was the harmonization of Azerbaijan education system with the education systems of EU countries; in other words, the entrance into the European Higher Education Area (EHEA). Accordingly, Azerbaijan has adopted the Law on Education in 2009 as the reform law which was intended to make these goals legally binding for all higher education institutions (HEIs) in Azerbaijan.

The Ministry of Education closely collaborates with major international organizations (the Council of Europe, UNESCO, World Bank, UNICEF, UNDP, ETF, ISESCO, EU), as well as with international nongovernmental organizations (Education Law and Policy, Open Society Institute, American Council for Collaboration in Education and Language Study (ACCELS), International Research and Exchange Board (IREX), German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD)). Cooperation includes policy dialogue, convening joint conferences, seminars and workshops on issues related to the implementation of Bologna process requirements, exchange of students, faculty members and researchers, improvement of the content of education, participation in joint projects etc.

Cooperation between Azerbaijan and the EU is carried out within the framework of Tempus/TACIS, Erasmus Mundus, Twinning/TAIEX and Sigma programmes.

Policy dialogues with partners from other regions of the world are held during visits of Ministry officials and exchanges with official delegations at the Ministry of Education and higher education institutions. During recent years such dialogue has expanded to a number of countries including the USA, Canada, France, Germany, the UK, South Korea, Egypt, Israel etc. Protocols and agreements on mutual recognition of degrees have been signed with the Russian Federation, Ukraine, Turkey and Austria.


Relevant links