The marketization and neoliberal trends have called Kazakhstan to pay greater attention to the issue of university autonomy. Thus, the topic of university autonomy has been studied rather intensively. However, most of the studies mainly concentrated on the future perspectives of autonomy and formal tensions between the state and HEIs, whereas the actual dynamics and content of changes remain narrowly defined. Paper revisits the issue of university autonomy using agency theory and Olsen’s four steering model. First utilizing the Olsen’s four steering model, paper addresses the question of why and how government is advancing institutional autonomy in Kazakhstan. Second, agency theory assists in analyzing the information flow and goal conflicts between state representatives and universities. Therefore, semi-structured interviews were held with the Ministry of Education official, member of Information Analytical Center, university top management and deans. The empirical focus has been placed on public and private universities, and comparison has been made to understand differences in the autonomy related dimensions that affect university functions. It concludes by observing that there are information mismatches in the financing mechanism, academic matters and in the reorganization of universities due to the hybridized approach of the state and path dependency nature of implementation process.