The Government of Georgia (GoG) is determined to foster the internationalization of the Georgian higher education system and to ensure that all Georgian citizens have access to high-quality higher education, to support their individual and professional development, and to improve their access to better employment opportunities. These ambitious goals have been enshrined in three strategic objectives included in the “Unified Strategy for Education and Science for 2017-2021” (USES):
Strategic objective 1. Further modernization of higher education system, promotion of internationalization, and improvement of quality;
Strategic objective 2. Create effective opportunities for lifetime learning;
Strategic objective 3. Increase access to quality education.
The purpose of this policy paper is to i) identify the existing challenges to the achievement of the Government strategic objectives 1 and 3, in close dialogue with a broad set of stakeholders; ii) provide a set of recommendations based on the analysis of the nature of the challenges and on the international best practices to address them.
During the preparation of this report, we benefited from the constructive interaction with numerous stakeholders from several different groups (representatives of Higher Education Institutions – HEIs, representative public institutions operating in Higher Education – HE – and other organizations). When stakeholders were too dispersed for extensive face-to-face interactions, we also collected information through online surveys. A full list of the stakeholder groups interviewed is available in table B1 in the Appendix.
The paper will develop as follows: in the next section, we provide a quick summary of the strategic issues faced by the Georgian government as it embarked on the reform of its Higher Education System (HES), as they were summarized in the World Bank report (World Bank, 2014) drafted to support the Georgian government in its efforts. We will then discuss briefly the changes that occurred in the period 2014-2018, to show how far the reform process has come. In section three, we will review the trends characterizing the Higher Education System in Georgia. In section four we discuss the key system-wide issues characterizing the HES. In section five we suggest a set of recommendations to tackle the identified challenges. Finally, in the last section, we will illustrate a tentative timeline for the implementation of our recommendations.