Founded in 1933 as Kazakh National University or Kaz GU or Kaz NU, as it is usually known. Located in Almaty, the historic capital and largest city of the Republic, it grew rapidly in its early years with the formation in 1937 of a faculty of humanities, followed in 1938 by philosophy and in 1941 by journalism.
It took its current name, from the 10th century Arabic philosopher Al-Farabi (also known as Alparabius) in 1991 following Kazakhstan’s declaration of independence from the crumbling Soviet Union, and in 2001 was classified as a national university.
Its claims to national prominence were supported in 2018 by the outcome of national scholarship examinations which showed it was “significantly ahead of other universities” in attracting the most talented applicants, many of them winning scholarships for which there are 15 to 20 applications for each award.
Divided into 15 schools and 64 academic departments, Kaz NU is located on the 100 acre Kazgugrad campus in Almaty, which is dominated by a 15-storey tower which accommodates the university administration along with the faculties of history, economics, law, philosophy and journalism.
It has pursued international connections strongly, concluding agreements with more than 300 universities worldwide, with Madrid Complutense and the American University of Ras al Khaimah among the most recent. It is also a participant in the Erasmus REKT library project and the New Silk Road student programme.
Alumni associations fund more than 600 scholarships each year, while the university operates a free legal clinic for those in need in Almaty.