The messenger logo

The most controversial section removed from the draft on high education

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Tuesday, July 16
The prime minister will not enjoy the right of appointing the provisional heads of the state universities. Due to strong debates and controversies after the first reading on the draft on high education, the most controversial part of the draft was removed at the second reading.

According to the initial version of the draft, the Prime Minister was given the right to appoint an acting rector in state universities pending the election of the new rector; a candidate for an acting rector would be nominated to PM for confirmation by the education ministry.

This part caused dissatisfaction among the parliamentary minority, various civil society groups, students and even the Georgian Dream. Opponents of the section considered that the fact would cause the government’s involvement in university activities and would restrict the autonomy of higher educational institutions.

The bill pushed forward by the Ministry of Education reads that in the case of the sudden termination of the rector’s authority, the acting head of the university, who should lead the institution before election of the new rector, should be appointed by an electoral board, formed by those people who are holding academic posts in a respective institution and who have doctoral or equivalent academic degrees.

“The electoral board will be a more representative body than the university’s governing body, the Academic Council, that under the existing law is in charge of appointing the acting head before the election of new rector,” Deputy Education Minister, Tamar Sanikidze suggested.

The majority took the minority’s major remark into account. The minority, on its terms accepted the part of the bill that envisages that the rectors of state universities (and not the private ones) should have an academic degree of doctor or equivalent degree.

The part was removed from the law on education in 2010 when Aleksandre Kvitashvili held the position of the Tbilisi State University rector. There were speculations that appointing Kvitashvili on the post, who does not own academic degree, was politically motivated by the United National Movement (UNM) government.

Despite agreement on the major points, there are issues the parliamentary minority still does not agree with.

“There are some points in the draft that would disable many people to take active part in the universities’ actions. We do not agree with some other provisions, including the new academic raking criteria, according to which doctoral degree seekers will no longer be able to hold assistant professor’s position,” UNM MP Davit Darchiashvili stated.

It is still unknown how the president will act. Based on the initial statements of the president he was going to veto the draft. Recently he made the statement during his meeting with students. Currently, the most controversial part of the draft has been removed. However, the opposition is not still contented. The president believes that in the case he vetoes the draft the parliament will not manage to overcome it, as the “parliamentary majority is not unanimous concerning the proposed changes.”

After the third final reading, the draft will be sent to the president for signing.