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Georgian undergraduate exchange students in Europe

Almost every Georgian student wishes to study in Europe. A reason for that is to gain international experience, get to know diverse people with various living standards, make new friends, share experiences with them and return to the home country with new ideas and perspectives. As one of the Georgian exchange students said: “Studying abroad is a big challenge because you need to be independent and adapt to a new environment. This experience of adapting to new environments will be of big interest later in life when you come on the working market”.

But, for undergraduate students we have only about 30 places for English speaking students far less for other language speaking (German, Spanish, Italian…) ones each year, while many more wish to be an exchange student. More difficult is to be the beneficiary of ERASMUS Lot 6.

Thus, selection process is merit-based and quite difficult to go through, so students should prepare specially for it. Competition for one-semester mobility program includes three steps: 1. Passing English Language (B2) Test 2. Writing motivation letter and presenting your grades (High GPA is required), recommendation letters, and the offered Universities, listed in priority order. The 3rd step is an interview where you have to answer some of the standard questions like “why you would like to study in Europe”, “how will you use this experience after returning to your home country”, “why are you the best candidate for this programme” etc. as well as some unexpected ones, which you should answer in a spontaneous and natural manner, because your presence of mind matters in such a situation.

I mentioned high GPA in the above analysis, but work experience, voluntary experience and other kinds of extra-curricular activities also count a lot. Skills gained through nonformal education is as worthy as those through formal learning, because it focuses on practical skills and knowledge. Formal and nonformal education can complement each other if properly understood (“What is Nonformal Education?” Arlen Etllng).

Akaki Koridze is former exchange student in Riga, Latvia. He has spent 2011/2012 autumn semester there and has just returned to Georgia. Gained experience helped him to find a job and thus excel in his career. Akaki talked with us about the advantages and significance of mobility programs, as it helps students to expand their worldview, become more aware of European educational and cultural policies and be able to accept the differences. Georgian students had a presentation of the country in one of the schools in Riga. “The school students were aware of Georgia less than we expected they would be, we had a mini-test during the presentation and the only question they gave the right answer was – who is the president of Georgia?” On the question, how did he manage to go through the selection process, Akaki answered that good knowledge of English and motivation helped him to convince the jury in his abilities, “I knew exactly what I wanted and why I needed this program for my future career”, – he says. For his Masters Degree Akaki would like to continue studying in Western Europe or in USA.

Author: Ana Koridze

Tbilisi State University

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ECTS in Georgia and recognition of credits gained abroad

European Credit Transfer and Accumulations system was initially launched in 1989 as a pilot project in the ERASMUS program. The original goals of the scheme were to facilitate student mobility and bridge educational systems at a national and international level by the means of credit transfer. ECTS plays a key role in the creation of the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) through the Bologna process.

On May 2005 Minister of Education and Sciences of Georgia signed the Bergen Communiqué and thus Georgia, post Soviet state, officially joined the Bologna Process like forty five other European countries and committed itself to becoming a constituent part of the European Higher Education Area by 2010 (EPPM Project Report,2005).

After 2005, Georgian students can apply for an exchange program and study abroad so that when they are back their courses will be recognized.

Once the students receives confirmation of acceptance from a receiving institution, he/she has to compose a learning agreement, which is a study contract among the student, sending and receiving institutions and must be signed by all three parties to become valid. The study modules which the students will take during his stay in the host institution will be specified in the learning agreement. The Learning Agreement and the transcript of records guarantee the transfer of credit for courses passed successfully by the exchange student. The relevant person in charge at the home university carries out the recognition after the student returns to his/her home institution. Among my respondents there were several exchange students who have not composed a learning agreement. In this case their credits could not be transferred.

Generally, credit recognition process looks like this: students bring the grades and syllabus from the host university; relevant people check them and recognize passed courses which have analogical content as the ones which are defined by the home university’s study program.

Actually, when I started writing this article, I wanted to investigate the problems, exchange students face in Georgia but surprisingly it appeared that drawbacks are not too many. The general problem about which Georgian students are complaining during the transferring process is that recognition and reviewing the material takes long time, there is no definite answer to the question, when will you know if credits were recognized or not. “You have to go and ask about it every day in the Quality Assurance Office” – says one of the former exchange student.

Another problem can be not one-to-one correspondence between credits. For example in Tbilisi State University, one subject equals 5 credits while in many universities abroad it is 3 credits. So Georgian University requires a student to take 2 subjects to get 6 credits that will be recognized as 5. So, one credit appears to be “lost”.

In conclusion, I think that European Credit Transfer and Accumulations system is quite successfully used in Georgia and is definitely very useful for Georgian students. Additionally, it is a great step forward in the long process towards European integration.

Author: Ana Koridze

Tbilisi State University

Share Your Story

Hello Reader

Welcome again to the world of diversity and equality. Here you will see different stories, papers, policy analysis about peoples of the world; their cultures and traditions. I will try to keep this blog dynamic and interesting.

Though, every of you has a chance to share own story to the audience. Your contribution is important, so if you feel that you have something exciting, express yourself.

Here are some recommendations that should apply to your writings:

1. It should be an original content, not a copied article from the internet. If you translate something, indicate author and publisher.

2. The post should reflect positive experience on interethnic relations, cross-cultural cooperation.

International Communication
Commonication Through Communication

Some other suggested topics include: governmental policy on minority issues (I will appreciate critical analysis); review of legislation/situation in the certain country on inclusion mechanisms of religious/ethnic minorities; announcements, reports , evaluations of the trainings, seminars, conferences or other events on the above-mentioned issues; fictions, music, dances of different people, etc. You also may interview community member, or send examples of local folklore. Any other ideas are welcome. Just be creative and positive.

3. The post should be written into English. Please pay attention to language accuracy and include links, photos, podcasts, and remember about copyrights 🙂

Include your name, a short bio, picture (desirable) and mail me at mshalash@kent.edu. I’ll try to review your post in 72 hours and publish, or reply my suggestions.

Remember! Posts that reflect content of call for violence, hatred, xenophobia,  discrimination, chauvinism, etc, will NEVER be published here!

Good luck!