On 18 September, Georgia’s top officials, including the President Salome Zurabishvili, Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia and the ruling Georgian Dream-Democratic Georgia (GDDG) chair Bidzina Ivanishvili, attended the presentation of the Kutaisi International University’s (KIU) “New Educational Space”, that was held in Tbilisi.
The university – which is yet to be built and staffed – says it will be ready to admit Georgian and foreign students starting 2020 academic year. The project is billed as being fully financed by Cartu Foundation, a charity founded by Ivanishvili, which pledged EUR 1 billion to the construction.
The teaching model for the KIU has been reportedly elaborated in cooperation with the Technical University of Munich, while during yesterday’s presentation, a Memorandum of Cooperation was signed with another leading German facility – Jülich Research Center.
According to GDDG, Kutaisi International University, aimed to be “an international hub of science and technology in the region,” and “a leading provider of scientific and educational services,” will initially have three educational buildings, dormitories and libraries, equipped with modern infrastructure and technologies.
In a statement released on September 18, Bidzina Ivanishvili noted that “education is the major resource for the country, on which the development strategy should be based.”
A Campaign Fixture?
Ivanishvili first voiced his plans to build the educational space in Kutaisi in 2012, during one of his campaign meetings ahead of the parliamentary elections, where he successfully challenged the United National Movement, whose leader, Mikheil Saakashvili had previously voiced plans for a similar establishment in Batumi.
The Kutaisi Technological University’s building plans were first presented in 2016 – again, on the even of the parliamentary elections.
KIU was supposed to receive students during the current academic year, but the dates of beginning the construction have been repeatedly postponed.
Currently, former Deputy Education Minister, Alexander Tevzadze is the rector of the university, a position which was earlier held by another former Deputy Education Minister – Temur Murgulia.