RESEARCH REPORT: The effectiveness of one year Georgian language program for ethnic minorities at HEIs.


On November 8th, 2016, UNAG’s "Promoting Integration, Tolerance and Awareness Program” [PITA] and the Center for Civil Integration and Inter-Ethnic Relations (CCIIR) have released a research – "The effectiveness of one year Georgian language program for ethnic minorities at HEIs.”

The research studied the effectiveness of the "Quota System in Georgia" introduced at higher education institutions by Ministry of Education of Georgia in the framework of "an Affirmative Action Policy” towards ethnic minority entrants. Through the quota system (1+4 system) non-Georgian university entrants can take exam on their native language only in general skills. Upon passing the threshold,they become students of one-year Georgian language program and pursue studying at BA level (after completing the program- accumulating 60 credits). The implementation of the policy is one of the major instruments to promote equality and increase access to higher education at Georgian state universities.

CCIIR carried out the research in several directions, including assessment of the effectiveness of the program and examining students' attitudes and perceptions towards the quality of one year Georgian language program. Totally 300 randomly selected students from TSU, Medical University, Technical University, Akhalkalaki and Akhaltsikhe Universities participated in the research. The research resulted in several important findings and also provided specific recommendations for improving the policy and one year Georgian language program.

Despite the fact that a mitigation policy substantially improved access to higher education of ethnic minorities, the research revealed diverse challenges and trends of the policy, including but not limited to:

  • Since 2010, with the introduction of the quota system, the number of enrolled ethnic minority students at Georgian HEIs has significantly increased (compare: academic year 2010 – 331 and academic year 2015 – 800 students).
  • Number of Azeri speaking enrolled students tripled (the number of enrolled students was 194 in 2010 and 556 in 2015). As for the Armenian speaking entrants, there is less progress (in 2010, 137 Armenians enrolled and in 2015 the number equaled to 244).
  • N of students enrolled through quota system is substantially low compared to allocated quota places: in 2010-2015, N of allocated places within the policy equaled to 19, 544, while N of enrolled students equaled to 3742 (only 19,1% utilized).
  • N of university entrants, who failed general skills exam in their native language is significantly high compared to ethnic Georgian peers. 30% (average) of Armenian and Azerbaijanian entrants failed at general skills exam. This number also highlights that there are serious problems of quality of education in non-Georgian schools.
  • Results of the school completion exams in non-Georgian schools in Samtskhe-Javakheti (SJ) and Kvemo Kartli (KK) are substantially worse compared to Georgian schools, especially in urban areas. The data from 2016 exams show that 38% of pupils failed to pass school completion exams in SJ and 36 % in KK respectively. These figures are even worse, if we exclude the municipalities settled by ethnic Georgians. E.g. if we look at KK, excluding Rustavi (mainly populated by Georgians), the figure of schoolchildren failed to pass exam threshold equals to 47%.
  • Retention and completion rate among ethnic minorities is quite low. E.g. from 156 students enrolled in TSU in 2010 through quota, 14,8% (23) completed BA program in 2015.
  • Students of one-year Georgian language program show satisfaction about all aspects of one-year Georgian language preparatory program (language acquisition, academic, development of social skills and extra curriculum activities). According to the research, teachers’ qualifications and readiness were assessed with the highest number.
  • The research revealed that there is a need to establish support mechanism and students’ services in order to further improve effectiveness of the program.
  • Also, it is important to introduce diversified (vs. one-fits-all) model for teaching Georgian as well as provision of differentiated assessment tools of the students language competences.