The FINANCIAL — According to the study conducted by The FINANCIAL at 5 universities: CU, GAU, IBSU, Free University, and IliaUni, more than 190 students have been dismissed largely due to financial, academic and other reasons.
On 4 February, 2010, the Minister of Science and Education Mr. Shashkini announced the idea of a students’ status removal institute which envisages the rights and obligations of students and universities according to legislation without scrapping a student’s status. According to this order, if a student can’t afford to pay he/she fills in an application to suspend their student status, start working, collect the necessary amount of money and then resume their student status and continue studies with a 5 year student status.
Nata Khachapuridze, who studied at CU, moved to Guram Tavartkiladze State University due to the fact that she couldn’t pay the second year tuition fee at CU. As far as The FINANCIAL knows she studied well but the only reason she moved to Tavartkiladze University was because of the inability to pay the high fees that year of 6,500 GEL. She simply couldn’t cover the second year fee.
There was also a similar case with Nick Gonashvili when he moved from ESM to IBSU roughly 2 years ago, the only reason he stated was he high tuition fee at ESM while at IBSU at that time it was 2,864 GEL, even though now it is 4,200 USD, increased significantly largely due to the building of the new campus near Tbilisi airport.
Last year Dimitri Kiknadze was removed from IBSU. Not because of the high costs but because of a difficulty studying in English. Therefore IliaUni was the best choice for him due to the reason that tuition was 1,500 GEL at that time and the language of instruction was Georgian.
“Georgian American University has had only 3 students in the last 4 years which have had their study privileges suspended due to non-payment. “These 3 students are currently in a suspended status – which allows them to continue taking classes once their financial situation improves and the curricula is appropriate for their continuing where they left off,” said Michael Cowgill, President of GAU.
“First we allow students to pay by semester (twice per year) rather than requiring the total tuition at the beginning of the Fall semester. Then we set a specific date by which students must pay, if they do not, then they are not allowed to join the classes. Also, on a case-by-case basis, we look at alternative payment options, but obviously that has to be the exception,” said Cowgill.
“GAU decreased its tuition for the coming 2010/11 Academic Year from 7,500 to 6,000 GEL for a bachelor degree which we believe is a reasonable cost given the continued economic downturn in the Georgian economy.”
“Most of our students leave or move to other universities due to academic reasons (due to failing one specific course twice or the inability to maintain a satisfactory Grade Point Average (GPA)). Also, since we only have Business and Law Faculties, we have had a few students leave to pursue a different career choice,” said Cowgill.
133 students were removed from International Black Sea University, said Marina Kipiani, head of the PR department. “But the reasons were different: mainly it was due to financial reasons, others couldn’t adapt to the English education that we provide to the students and the rest of the students moved to other low cost universities. Students’ mobility is quite high from IBSU to other universities and vice versa. This year 18 students are already willing to move to IBSU and more could be added before the end of registration on 30 July. I have to say that students’ mobility rate is higher at other state universities due to the relatively low tuition fee. But for those who want to study in English the tuition fees are also set accordingly. At IBSU the tuition fee can be divided in to 10 parts so that it’s comfortable for students to pay it. Currently it amounts to 4,200 USD which is quite high despite the 10% discounts for those having passed TOEFL IBT and certain other benefits.
This year 11 students were dismissed from Freeuni out of which 6 were freshmen, and 5 sophomore. The reason they were removed was largely due to unsatisfactory studying.
“Students at Free University are not removed for any other reason because our university does everything in order for students not to have financial complaints while with us,” Giorgi Meladze, Chancellor of Freeuni, told The FINANCIAL.
Head of marketing and PR department Tinatin Gugberidze says the main reason why students move to other low cost universities is that rules and regulations for the students are very strict at CU, as studying requires a lot of effort, therefore the most common reason for them to leave university is the fact that many students find studying here too difficult and are not prepared to put the required effort in to their studying. Therefore it’s almost impossible to say on behalf of the students who left the university that it was only due to personal financial problems.
CU is also offering student loans from Bank Republic on which there is 19% annual interest for the following directions: Business, Law, Media, IT, Humanities, and Tourism and State Governance. Students pay in GEL with insurance as a gift. The loan time is 2 years.
This year 4 students were dismissed due to cheating in exams and 8 other students are going to leave this year too due to the scandal at CU.
44 students were dismissed due to not paying a tuition fee for 2010 at IliaUni. The figures for the previous years look as follow: 69 for 2008, 31 for 2009.
Currently the yearly IliaUni tuition fee is 2,250 GEL.
Lana Ghvinjilia, head of the PR Department told The FINANCIAL that in order to avoid this problem at IliaUni we have an employment service which ensures that within one year 138 students in and out of the university are employed. IliaUni’s self government has also got the resources from which socially vulnerable are given assistance based on the decision of the representative council. And the third way out is the individual pay system.
“We, as the administration of IliaUni, meet together when a problem of tuition fee paying arises and offer the optimal solutions to our students. So we have agreed to offer students divided pay without any interest or fines. This kind of system is for those who are socially vulnerable, those with no parents, and IDPs.”
The FINANCIAL also interviewed Rubén Gaytán Lemus, a student from Yale University in the US to find out how tuition pay and associated problems are solved overseas.
“What most people at Yale do is that they take out loans then they work full time after college to pay back whatever they borrowed. If a student doesn't pay he/she will get dismissed, but most just apply for scholarships or take out loans. At Yale the tuition fee is too high, amounting to 50,000 USD annually but very few pay that much because almost all of them have sufficient scholarships to cover the fee.
“After a student graduates then he has 6 months with no interest payable but after this period he pays usual interest. Scholarships are taken from Yale as well as outside sources so students don’t really have a problem with financial aid that’s why I haven’t heard of any student getting dismissed due to this reasons as far as I know,” said Rubén Gaytán Lemus, Junior student of political science at Yale.