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TRENDS OF GEORGIAN HIGHER EDUCATION SYSTEM

Автор Доклада: 
B. Shukakidze
Награда: 
TRENDS OF GEORGIAN HIGHER EDUCATION SYSTEM

TRENDS OF GEORGIAN HIGHER EDUCATION SYSTEM

Berika Shukakidze, Doctoral Candidate, Assistant Professor
University of International Relations of Georgia


Since 2004 Georgian higher education system has undergone extensive reformation. High political will and substantial public support guaranteed considerable progress. The paper overviews changes in the following aspects: Bologna process, autonomy, accreditation and licensing, funding, access, regional representation, gender, completion, human recourses, unified national examination, and corruption.
Key words: Bologna process, autonomy, accreditation and licensing, funding, access, regional representation, gender.

After so-called Rose Revolution in 2004 a set of sweeping changes have taken place in many sectors of governance in Georgia. Education has been declared as one the top priorities by the new government. High political will coupled with a considerable public support has ensured significant advancement from the old Soviet style of education toward modern one. Georgia is a fairly small country, with limited natural resources. For this reason, country’s future economic development and well-being at large mainly depends on the quality of human capital.
Even though, a number of achievements accomplished so far, discussed later in the article, showing substantial progress, current condition of higher education in Georgia is far from a desired state.
The data applied for the analyses is derived from the first phase (2004-2009) of the higher education reform. The article overviews the following issues related to the Georgian higher education sector: Bologna process, autonomy, accreditation and licensing, funding, access, regional representation, gender, completion, human recourses, unified national examination, and corruption. The reformation of the Georgian higher education system has started with enacting a new “Georgian Law for Higher Education” in December 2004. The law was buttressed on the following fundaments: Decentralization, transference, participation, accountability. Based on the law: (1) a three-step degree system was introduced: Bachelorette, Master’s, and Doctoral, (2) universities were re-established as a Legal Entity of Public Law or Legal Entity of Private Law. Worthwhile to mention that public universities were given an almost full-size autonomy to govern the institutions. A big step forward for modernizing the entire sector has been a membership of the Bologna process. Namely, in harmonizing Georgian Law for Higher Education with European standards, redesigning curricula and syllabi, introducing credit transfer system. As stated above, transparency and participation have been fundaments for policy making process. All stakeholders were heavily involved in the process of creating the higher education qualification framework. The document has been of big use by the higher education institutions’ faculties to work on program curricula and syllabi.
University institutional accreditation and licensing could be considered as one of the most challenging parts of the reform.
 

Number of licenced higher education istitutions in 2004-2009


Table#1 : Number of licenced higher education istitutions in 2004-2009.
Sources: Department of Statistics, Ministry of Economic Development (2009).

Regional representation is limited in the country. The majority of the higher education institutions (70% ) are located in the capital city – Tbilisi.
The first university institutional accreditation was introduced before the 2004-2005 academic year. Only licensed universities were allowed to take a part in the institutional accreditation.
Out of 247 licensed universities only 117 universities received accreditation mandate. The number of accredited universities decreased to 85 after 2006-2007 institutional accreditation procedure. In 2009 there were 58 accredited higher education institutions in Georgia.

Diagram # 2: regional representation of higher education institutions in Georgia.
Source: Ministry of Education and Science of Georgia.
Unified National Examination for BA programs was introduced in 2005 and for MA programs in 2009. The exam has been named as one of the most successful components of the reform. This initiative has played a crucial role to fight against widespread corruption in the system. From the perspective of social development, corruption in education can be worse than corruption in the police, customs service, or other areas because it contains both immoral and illegal elements and involves either minors or young people. Much of education corruption is classified under the term “professional misconduct.” Professional misconduct is behavior that breaks the code of conduct normally pertaining to the university professorate (Braxton and Bayer 1999). From 2005 on the education is accusable to every student without their socio –economic status. There are at list two major challenges regarding to the unified national exams. Firstly, there were mismatch between national curricula and unified national exam requirements. That diminished a school’s paramount role-to provide students with proper education. Consequently, high school students preferred to take private lesions rather than being involved in the learning process in their schools. Secondly, the unified national exam is the solely prerequisite to enter into the tertiary education. In the future, be better if universities are given the authority to impose their own requirements to recruit new students, such as college paper, extracurricular and volunteering activities, etc.
As mentioned above, education has been named as one of the main priorities in the country. That was transferred into a considerable increase of funding of all sectors of education.
In 2004-2008 the amount of funds allocated by the government to the higher education sector was doubled.

Diagram# 3: State expenditure on higher education 2004-2008 in GEL ( 1 USD = 1.8 GEL)
Source: Ministry of Education and Science of Georgia, 2009.
The finance model has been modified. The government allocates money using a new model called State Learning Grants. Based on the unified national exam results universities receive funds from the state budget.


Diagram #4: amount of State Learning Grant in thousand GEL.
Source: Ministry of Finance of Georgia, 2009.
Up to 2006 the grants were distributed using a merit based approach. From 2006 need based approach was added to the grant allocation. The government defined 100%, 70%, 50%, and 30% grant lots. The money follows the student approached has been successful and effective for bother universities and students. 16 State universities receive additional funding from the state budget as well (see the diagram# 5).


Diagram#5: basic funding for state universites.
Source: Ministry of Finance, 2009.
The reason of decrease of funding is due to increase of State Learning Grant amount.
The following table well represents summary of financial indicators:
 

It is worthwhile to notice that between 2004 and 2008 the state expenditure on per student has been tripled.
Before 2004, due to the weak state control and widespread corruption the number of universities was very high (over 258). The vast majority of the universities lacked material-technical and human resources. For this reason, no surprise the quality of education offered at that time was critically low.
The following table shows a decrease of the number of students at the higher education sector.


Due to the decrease the participation rate has been lowered as well

Due to the decrease the participation rate has been lowered as well (see diagram#6).

Diagram#6: Participation rate. The indicator was calculated using UNESCO Institute of Statistics methodology. (www.gmr.uis.unesco.org)
One of the major challenges of the Georgian higher education sector is students’ distribution by profession. Data analyses shows that less students applied for very important programs for the country’s future development such as teaching, engineering, and agriculture.*
Programs offered through social science and business administration departments have been more popular among Georgian students.
Also, students’ entire population is diminishing due to the alarming demographic situation. For the academic year of 2008-2009, number of BA students reduced by 25% (Ministry of Education and Science, 2009).

Data analyses concerning to the students’ distribution by gender is sufficient to argue that equal access to education is not an issue. In 207-2008, female students represented 54% of the entre students’ population. However, male students’ representation in vocational education is overwhelming.


Diagram#8: Students distribution by gender.
Source: Ministry of Education and Science of Georgia, 2009.
Georgian population is consisting of representatives of more than 100 different nations. From 2004 on, the new government has initiated a number of policies and programs to shorten the gap between native Georgians and ethnic minorities. It should be mentioned that most of, if not all, ethnic minorities used to speak fluent Russian during the Soviet times. Major ethnic groups – Armenians and Azeri are allowed to take part of unified national exams (skills test) in their native language. The Ministry of Education and Science has been executing program called “teach Georgian” in the public schools located in the regions densely populated by the ethnic minority groups. In 2005, a public administration school, named after the late Parliament chairman Z. Zhvania, was established. This is a special school for representatives of ethnic minority groups who want to be employed in the public sector. Along the subjects related to the public administration and policy issues, students go through the intensive state language (Georgian) course.
Georgian higher education sector is characterized by very high percentage of a completion rate indicator – 92%( MoES of Georgia,2009). It should be noticed that it is hard to argue if there is a correlation between completion rate and the quality of education without a proper research.
Quality of faculty has remained as one of the biggest challenges the Georgian higher education sector has been facing. The vast majorities of professors are teaching at 3-4 universities and have little time for research, inquiry of new developments in their fields. A few universities offer their Doctoral students modern programs. For this reason, Georgian higher education institutions lack high quality faculty. A big portion of the teaching staff consists of professors who hold MA degrees from different Western universities.

number of academic staff by academic position and gender
 

Diagram #9: number of academic staff by academic position and gender.
Source: Ministry of Education and Science of Georgia, 2009.
Even though there have been considerable developments in the Georgian higher education sector there are some of the challenges that needs to be resolved in the nearest future.
Ratifying a Georgian Law for Higher Education, joining Bologna process, enacting a unified national exams, and modifying funding formula have been sufficient ground for transparency, equal access, accountability.
At the same time, quality of faculty, programs, and material –technical resources need to be improved.

References:
1. Braxton, John M., and A. E. Bayer. 1999. Faculty Misconduct in Collegiate Teaching.
Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.
2. S.P. Heyneman, and K. H. Anderson. 2007. The Cost of Corruption in Higher Education.
Comparative Education Review.
3. Department of Statistics and Analyses. Ministry of Education and Science, 2009.
4. Department of Statistics, Ministry of Economic Development, 2009.

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Trends in Higher Education

Dear Berika Shukakidze! Thanks for the interesting article on actual issues. But there is some contradiction between the title and content. You revealed the conditions, achievements and disadvantages of higher education in Georgia since 2004. Unfortunately, I could not see trends in higher education. You write: "Even though there have been considerable developments in the Georgian higher education sector there are some of the challenges that needs to be resolved in the nearest future. Ratifying a Georgian Law for Higher Education, joining Bologna process, enacting a unified national exams, and modifying funding formula have been sufficient ground for transparency, equal access, accountability. At the same time, quality of faculty, programs, and material –technical resources need to be improved". I think that this is not enough to understand all the trends in higher education. In addition, You make reference to the diagrams, but in fact, the text contains only tables. I wish you luck. Olexandr Josan, Kirovograd, Ukraine.
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