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Opposition fears government is trying to gain control over the state universities

By Ana Robakidze
Wednesday, June 12
Holding a Ph.D degree may become a mandatory requirement for a person nominated as a rector of a state university. The Government of Georgia proposed amendments to the law on education. The draft amendments, which were prepared by the Ministry of Education, introduces new requirements for a candidate wishing to become a faculty dean or the head of a university. The draft also creates the position of assistant in the academic staff of state universities, who will carry out research at the universities and also conduct seminars.

If the draft is finally approved by parliament, all academic staff who do not meet the new set of requirements, will be suspended from their positions in state universities.

Alexander Kvitasihvili, Head of Tbilisi State University may be one of the rectors who will be suspended from his post. According to official information, Kvitaishvili does not hold a Ph.D degree.

Pursuant to the amendments, in the case of a pre-term termination of a rector’s position, the prime minister of Georgia will nominate the replacement.

The opposition, United National Movement (UNM) will not support the draft. Many of their MPs see the planned amendments as an attempt by government to gain control over the state universities. The opposition states that the new draft permits a direct intervention in the autonomy of state universities.

Rector of the Ilia State University, Gigi Tevzadze also opposes the draft, especially the part regarding the mandatory requirement of a Ph.D. Tevzadze says universities have to be given the freedom to elect their rector. While choosing a rector, universities should not be bound by the academic degrees a candidate holds.

Tevzadze says it is antidemocratic when the PM nominates candidates to take the highest position in state universities.

Eliso Chapidze, Deputy Chairperson of the Parliament Committee on Education, Science and Culture says the draft does not aim to harm the autonomy of universities. According to her the only goal of implementing the amendments is to improve the quality of education.

The government is looking for speedy discussions on the draft and hopes it will be approved by parliament shortly.