Education level is one of the main indicators for success and development of a country. Education sector plays one of the most decisive roles in economic advancement. Unemployment problem is the major challenge in Georgian reality.
When analyzing unemployment reasons, specialists frequently conclude that the education quality and lack of qualified staff frustrate a growth in investment inflows and creating new job places.
For many years the higher education quality in Georgia is being sharply criticized. The fact is that some accredited higher institutions in Georgia set much higher tuition fees as compared to European countries, but Georgian universities are not mentioned in international ratings or only occupy the last positions. British organization Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) has published one of the similar ratings with the world’s best 916 higher institutions of 81 countries, including from the USA, Great Britain, Germany, France, Japan, China, Canada, Russia, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Lithuania, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Estonia and Latvia.
According to rating indicators, the USA ranks first (154). The last place is occupied by Latvia (1). Georgia is not mentioned in the list of the best universities. As to our countries, only two of them are included in the rating: Russia (8th position) and Azerbaijan (12th position). The rating authors have not found even one valuable higher institution in Turkey, which pretends to be providing top level higher education.
The Caucasus Business Week (CBW) has tried to determine what this indicator means for our country, how alarming is it and what should the country do that Georgian universities be mentioned in ratings of the world-level universities?
Georgian Technical University
Georgian Technical University does its best to transmit international-standard education and knowledge to its students. However, PR issues are unsatisfactory and that’s why the university perception is low abroad, GTU vice principal Levan Klimiashvili noted.
“Valuable PR campaigns should be organized by the country and even by the university. The main problems come from lack of information, because any program at our university meets international-standard requirements. As to PR issues, a special department has been organized at the University to work on this direction. This will bring real results in the near future”, Klimiashvili noted.
Georgian Technical University satisfies all standards required for penetrating the international market, Levan Klimiashvili said. All programs have been accredited in Georgia, the USA and Europe. We provide international-level programs.
University of Georgia
Koka Topuria, chancellor of University of Georgia, explains that this indicator is not alarming. He asked: why should Georgia be in this list, when it is a developing and poor country?!
The world’s best universities were included in this list. Only surprise is that universities of Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan were mentioned also in this rating. As to Russia, this is not a surprising fact, because it is the world’s huge country, which used to produce rocketry and it should not be surprising this country has been included in the mentioned rating, Topuria noted.
As to Georgia, to pave way to the rating of the world’s best universities, it is necessary to open doors for students from other countries. «This policy will upgrade the education standards to a higher level», Topuria said. Moreover, the higher education sector should be privatized. This signifies all state universities should be transformed into private universities as it was made by the previous Authorities, when LEPL institutes were transformed into non-commerce legal entities, he added. There is quality and price. Georgia gives valuable education, but tuition fees are low. Therefore, foreign students find these conditions acceptable.
Tbilisi State Medical University
State universities rarely get into similar ratings, because financial independence is one of the main preconditions in the process of making ratings, Zurab Orjonikidze, chancellor of Tbilisi State Medical University, noted.
“When we moved from LEPL system to the system of non-commerce legal entities, I said to the Finance Minister and the Parliament Members that Georgian universities would lose much. I implied ratings. Universities must be independent in terms of finances. Private universities are free. I would not say this is only reason that our university is not mentioned in this rating, but this is one of the main preconditions”, Orjonikidze noted.
It is also important that a university have many foreign students. Tbilisi Medical University has more than enough contingent in this respect, Orjonikidze added.
«It is believed that if 40% of students come from foreign countries, this is a good university. At the same time, it is a good indicator when 20% of teachers come from foreign countries. 30% of students at Tbilisi Medical Universityare foregn citizens, but the issue with teachers is less satisfactory», Orjonikidze said.
Lack of valuable infrastructure is an additional reason why Georgian universities are not included in similar ratings, he said.
I do not have information on this research and therefore, I cannot comment on this issue, Vakhtang Lezhava, principal of Free University, noted.
A major part of inquired experts suppose that the situation will not change in the near 10 years, because fundamental changes should be carried out in the education system, because the higher education quality is low in the country.
Higher education sector attains success thanks to serious investments, Hamilton school director Gia Murghulia noted.
“We should take into account that financial and infrastructure issues have of crucial importance. Naturally, higher education sector attains success in case of serious investments. In our country all these issues are not satisfactory and desirable. I also mean infrastructure (classrooms, laboratories, educational environment). It is also important that professors who teach at our universities frequently cannot compete with foreign colleagues. It will take about 10 years to improve this situation”, Murghulia explained.
Ivane Kighuradze, parliament majority member and head of the parliament committee for education, noted that about 10 years are required that our universities get into similar ratings.
“The past years have made destructive effect on science and higher education. It will be very difficult to improve this situation. It is necessary that the government pay more attention to higher education. About 10 years are required that our universities get into these ratings”, Ivane Kighuradze noted.