Jobs.ge announcement strikes a blow to Georgia’s higher education reform

Jobs.ge is perhaps Georgia’s most comprehensive and frequently visited web-source for company representatives, public service providers and other individuals who want to post or search for job vacancies online. Generally considered the best source for employment opportunities in the country, jobs.ge also serves as a good source of information for getting a sense of Georgia’s current political, social and economic climate.

However, as we will see, employers seem to assess the value of a candidate’s academic qualifications unevenly and somewhat arbitrarily.

For example, on November 14, 2011, Ilia State University (ISU) published a vacancy notice on jobs.ge searching for candidates to fill positions at its Language Centre. The three vacancies included one for an Assistant Director, which entails planning and coordinating paid (online) educational courses, the distribution of course information, and cooperating with foreign lecturers. The second vacancy posted was for a Marketing Specialist/Web-Marketing Specialist needed to develop marketing projects for the Language Centre and to disseminate information about the courses. The third posting was for an internship in the field of Education Management, helping in the evaluation of surveys and planning online courses.

A degree in higher education in the field of Education Management is one of the requirements for consideration for the Assistant Director vacancy. However, the posting also underscores that those with a German higher education diploma in the field of Education Management or a related fields will receive priority.

Further, as additional requirements desired for the suggested position, the university specifies: In case of possessing German higher education diploma the priority will be given to those candidates who returned to Georgia maximum one year ago.

In other words, for all applicants possessing a Georgian higher education diploma, it is necessary to have a degree in Education Management, but in cases where the applicant possesses a German higher education diploma, a degree in Education Management is not compulsory. In short, one with a German higher education diploma need only have a degree in a related field to receive preference compared with those holding a Georgian higher education diploma in Education Management.

In addition, a person holding a German higher education diploma and those who arrived in Georgia no more than one-year ago is given additional priority compared with a person with the same qualifications, but who returned more than one-year ago.

In evaluating the requirements it is easy to conclude that an applicant with a Georgian higher education diploma in Education Management had three times less chance to obtain the desired position at Ilia State University, in comparison with a person with holding a German higher education diploma in the same or relative field.

The same applies with the position of Marketing Specialist/Web-Marketing Specialist. Even as an intern, a person is required to have higher education in the field of management. The announcement also notes that priority will be given to those holding a German diploma or those possessing work experience in Germany in Education Management or in the related fields of education or teaching.

At the end of the day, it seems ISU is looking for individuals that hold a foreign diploma and those with work experience abroad, as well as someone who is new to the current Georgian realities. Hence, the logical question remains: Why did ISU decide to disregard its numerous, highly-skilled graduates in favor of these other candidates?

In 2005, Georgia signed a treaty to become a member of the Bologna Process (this process made university degree standards and quality assurance standards more comparable and compatible throughout Europe), committing to establish the European Higher Education Area. The idea behind this was to ensure the development of the modern education system, improve the level of education and therefore, foster a highly-skilled, well-educated generation who can meet the demands of the Georgian employment market and be compatible on foreign job markets as well.

The implementation of this Western model – the introduction of a three-level education system (Bachelor’s degree; Master’s degree and Doctor’s degree) is considered to be one of the most successful reforms in Georgia. Ilia Chavchavadze State University of Language and Culture was one of the first universities that pushed through these related changes as part of the reform movement. It was then re-organized and the re-selected staff underwent professional training sessions. In 2006, the university was transformed into a modernized university based on the Western education system and its new name was Ilia State University.

However, ISU clearly has doubts regarding the level and/or quality of education its graduates possess- at least the contents of the vacancy announcement suggests this. In turn, this leads us to one final question: has there been any reform at all? Are Georgian Universities capable of providing Georgia’s job market with qualified personnel?

The level of success of Georgia’s educational reform has been put under question by the insiders themselves. And this, actually, can be considered as a blow to the Georgian higher education system reform.

The original article was published by GeorgiaToday. It is available here. PDF version.

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