The Condition of Higher Education in Georgia

It goes without saying that higher education is extremely important for the wellbeing of a society and to ensure growth and development of a country. This is one fact that the government of Georgia understands and as a result many steps have been taken to reform the old system of higher education and bring it at par with the international standards.

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Education has always been an important part of the Georgian society. During The Middle Ages, there were many educational centres in the country that helped to develop Georgia’s culture. When the country got its independence at the beginning of the 20th century, a national university was set up which was the first one in the Caucasus. When the Russians took over the country, Tbilisi State University was made a part of the Soviet system of higher education. This led to the Central Ministry of Higher and Specialised Secondary Education overseeing the higher education policy decisions. Universities, academics and institutes in the country had specific roles to perform during that time with the authorities deciding the number of students who could study a specific degree programme. Their decisions were based on the requirement by the economy. As a result, when Georgia became independent, this system continued, even though it had an emerging economy with different needs.

However, even then higher education flourished in the country and managed to preserve the country’s culture and provide scholarships to deserving students. Today, higher education in the country is considered extremely prestigious and parents are willing to spend money to ensure that their children get the best possible education.

Georgia, today, boasts of academics and teaching staff that are well-qualified after getting trained in the United States and Europe. However, the country is facing a certain amount of brain drain, which can be stemmed by providing conducive conditions and incentives. This will help retain and also bring back the highly qualified academicians to Georgia.

Types of Higher Education in Georgia

Georgia presently has 26 public and 214 private higher education institutions. With reforms in place, the country’s higher education is similar to the education system present in OECD countries. For undergraduate and graduate programmes, Georgia has a 4 + 2 format and has a credit-based higher education system.

The colleges in the country can conduct just Bachelor or professional education programmes. The teaching universities provide Bachelor and Masters programmes but do not offer doctoral programmes. And, finally there are universities that offer Bachelor, Master’s and doctoral programmes.

The higher education institutes in the country offer quality education today, as the country has an external quality assurance system in place which is carried out through an accreditation process. This accreditation is conducted by the National Education Accreditation Centre.

Georgia’s willingness to initiate reform actions and provide a credit option for the “Strengthening and Realignment of Secondary Education Sector in Georgia” was acknowledged by the World Bank. Secondary school graduates are the most important capital of any higher education system. Thus, the foundation for reforming the Georgian system of higher education is already being built.

Use of Technology and Internet in Higher Education

As Georgia has a modern system of higher education, use of technology, in particular the Internet, is highly prevalent in higher education institutions. Technology and the Internet are used for research-based higher education programmes. However, due to the current government policies, Internet usage is censored, but students wanting to do research for their dissertations can make use of the latest technologies and the Internet.

Opportunities for Improvement

While Georgia offers outstanding higher education, especially in certain fields, there is still room for improvement. Some of the improvements that can further improve higher education institutions in the country include the following:

• Greater access to higher education
• Government should lend support to strategic fields of research and study, while ensuring that the higher education also fulfils the demands of the labour market
• Setting up merit- and need-based grants and scholarships for students
• Establishing research grants
• Doing away with entrance examinations which decide who can enrol in public higher education institutions
• Establishing state programmes to sustain strategic fields of study and research.
• Attract funding from donor organisations to improve the state of higher education institutions in the country .

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