The FINANCIAL -- Georgian universities accepted a significantly higher number of
international students in the 2011-12 academic year compared to in
Tbilisi State Medical University is leading in terms of having the highest number of international students enrolled at its institution compared to other universities in Georgia (out of 5,000 students, 1,021 are foreign). Indians, Sri Lankans and Nigerians are dominating among the nationalities of foreign students. This year University of Georgia offered its BA programme for 65 applicants in response to the increasing number of international students.
In the 2009-2010 academic year Georgian universities in total accepted 832 international students. As of May 2011 the number had reached 1,709. The National Statistics Office of Georgia does not have the exact number of foreign students’ numbers for the 2011-12 academic year. The figures provided by the universities however have shown that the largest number have been accepted this year.
High utility costs, no part-time jobs and lack of English language knowledge among citizens are the main problems which foreign students encounter in Georgia. The majority of them return to their homeland after graduating.
Nigerian Akinosun Tai Olufemi, 27, came to Georgia five months ago. He got all his information about Georgia prior to his arrival from Google. He is in his first year at the American University for Humanities, in the faculty of International Relations.
“The majority of Africans who have visited Georgia recently have done so for study purposes. After graduation I am planning to return to my country and use the skills I have acquired,” Olufemi told The FINANCIAL. He believes that the educational level in Georgia is equal to international standards.
“The costs of utilities and rent in Georgia are too high. I spend 450 GEL monthly for my apartment. The chance of a non-Georgian-speaking foreigner finding a job is less than zero. If English were more dominant then the opportunities for foreigners to find jobs would increase. These are the major problems that foreigners in Georgia face,” he said.
Kshitij Kumar, 33, is from New Delhi. He is a student at Tbilisi State Medical University (TSMU). He also found out about TSMU from the internet. Then he contacted other students who studied here and after receiving positive feedback decided to come. “People here are friendly; I see some similarities with Indian culture. Five years ago when I first came here only a few people could speak English. So the language barrier was a real problem for me. However in recent times it has improved.”
Kumar shares a flat with three students. Their monthly cost is 500 USD.
“My sister is a student of TSMU so I also came here. I am financed by my family. In the majority of European countries students are able to find a part-time job, although such opportunities in Georgia are not big,” Kunal, from New Delhi, told The FINANCIAL.
Tbilisi State Medical University (TSMU) has 5,000 students, out of which 1,021 are international students. In the 2011-12 academic year the university accepted the largest number of foreign students, 346 to its different faculties and 47 to its preparatory centre.
“64% are from India, 16% from Sri Lanka, 10% - Turkey and 10% from other countries. We do not offer financing to international students, but they do have access to scholarships. Medical and physical medicine and rehabilitation faculties are most popular with international students,” said Jimi Archvadze, TSMU.
“Its internationally-recognized reputation, and qualified English language specialists are the main reason why foreigners decide to study at TSMU. After graduating foreign students return to their homelands,” he added.
The average tuition fee at TSMU is 2,500-3,000 USD.
The University of Georgia first launched its BA programme for international students in the 2011-2012 academic year. The approximate number of its students is 2,500. Sixty-five are international students.
“In the 2011-12 academic year we accepted the first group of foreign students. All of them are taking their BA degrees. Nursing specialties are the only BA program offered for foreign students,” said Ketevan Boiko, Head of the International Relations Department at The University of Georgia.
Nigerian students make up 97% and those from Cameroon - 3%, of foreign students at UG. The annual tuition fee for foreign students is 1,425 EUR. “At present we are not financing foreign students. Those who can prove their academic excellence are eligible for scholarships. Besides the tuition fee, around 500-700 GEL is required for books, and eating in the cafeteria of the university costs around 5 GEL per day,” said Boiko.
“Business administration will be offered to international students in the nearest future,” Boiko added.
The International School of Economics at Tbilisi State University (ISET) offers the only MA programme in Economics. Presently sixty-one students are studying here, out of which sixteen are international students.
“Eight students are from Azerbaijan, seven from Armenia and one from Latvia. We accepted the largest number of international students in the 2011-12 academic years - sixteen foreign students. Azerbaijani and Armenian students are dominating among our international students,” said Sopha Gujabidze, PR Manager at ISET.
ISET offers full tuition fee financing if the student can satisfy the minimal academic requirements. “We do not have a campus, but ISET rents apartments for international students. 80% of our foreign students go on to return to their home countries. ISET’s MA programme in Economics is the only one in the region which is equal to the standards of Western universities,” Gujabidze said.
“100% of our graduates are hired mostly by the public sector. Part of them continue studying for their PHD degree in leading European universities. The majority of international students receive full tuition scholarships,” she added.
Ivane Javakhishvili, Tbilisi State University, counts the largest number of students out of all Georgian universities - 22,000 in total. There are 233 international students doing their BA degrees and fifty on MA programmes. Since 2006 the University accepted the largest number of international students in the 2011-12 academic years - approximately seventy.
“75% of foreign students choose to study a BA degree and the remaining 25% - their MA. The most popular BA degree faculties among foreign students are Social and Political Science, and the specialization of Journalism in Russian. Students of MA programmes most frequently choose Economics in English. 40% of international students are Russians, 35% Azerbaijani, 15% - Armenian and the remaining 10% - from other countries,” said Nana Mamagulishvili, Head of the Department of Public Relations.
The tuition fee at TSU is 2,250 GEL for local and international students. “We issue education grants for foreign students in order to encourage studying. The Ministry of Science and Education is also launching the “Presidents scholarship”, also for foreigners,” Mamagulishvili said.
TSU is the only university boasting a campus. It is for 350 students. “We plan to renovate it in the nearest future. Besides this, we already have a project of constructing a modern campus,” Mamagulishvili added.
Free University of Tbilisi has eight foreign students on its BA programmes. All of the eight students are ethnic Georgians citizens of Russia. “We offer an agreement of transitional system of financing. It involves covering the tuition fee in a four year term after graduating. This offer is equal for all of our students, regardless of their citizenship. Ethnic Georgians are motivated to graduate here and later remain in Georgia. The annual tuition fee for foreign students is 6,950 GEL,” Prof. Dr. Guram Chikovani, Rector at Free University of Tbilisi , told The FINANCIAL.