During his interview he accused the current government of intentionally cancelling the projects of the previous government. As an illustration of this point, he talked about the Presidential Programme for sending students abroad for studies. He said that the aforementioned programme has been abolished.FactCheck
took interest in the ex-President’s statement and verified its accuracy.
We addressed the Administration of the President of Georgia, asking for detailed information about the Presidential Programme for sending students abroad. We received an answer with a one-and-a-half month delay. The letter received by us includes data from 2013 only. The letter says that: "According to the rules determined by the 26 March 2013 Directive No. 201 of the President of Georgia, the studies and study-related expenses were covered for citizens of Georgia enrolled in Master’s level study programmes at overseas universities." The students were funded after undergoing a competition. According to the Administration of the President of Georgia, the criteria and principles for choosing the candidates were not described in the published normative acts or commission protocols.
The letter also says that according to the 6 June 2013 Directive of the President, a total of EUR 43,058, USD 333,500, GBP 118,058 and CHF 38,268 was assigned by the Reserve Fund of the President of Georgia to the Administration of the President of Georgia. Hence, a total of GEL 1,013,534 was transferred by the Administration of the President of Georgia for financing students chosen during the competition. The letter explains that the current Administration has no information about any other Presidential Programme for financing overseas studies for students.In terms of its study FactCheck
contacted the Dean of the Tourism School of Caucasus University, Nino Kalandadze, who participated in organising the Presidential Programme for students in 2013. She explained that the aforementioned programme was a one-time event and implemented on the initiative of the President in 2013 only. Ms Kalandadze also told us that a similar Presidential Programme existed from 2008 to 2010 as well. It funded the studies of 20-25 students each year. The initiative was later transferred to the Ministry of Education and Science of Georgia for further implementation. According to Ms Kalandadze, the Presidential Programme took place in parallel with a programme of the Ministry of Education and Science of Georgia, entitled Gate to Education, in 2013 which means that both the Ministry and the President’s Administration funded overseas studies for students.
The aforementioned Ministry of Education and Science of Georgia’s Gate to Education programme was transferred to the International Education Centre created on the initiative of the Prime Minister of Georgia, Irakli Gharibashvili, in 2014. Mr Gharibashvili presented the concept of the International Education Centre to the public on 15 May 2014. The Centre’s website states: "Taking into account the priorities of the state, the Centre’s mission is to prepare people with skills and qualifications compatible with international standards and facilitate overseas education for citizens of Georgia living in the occupied and other regions of Georgia and for those citizens with disabilities."FactCheck wrote
about the International Education Centre in the past as well. The Centre runs three sub-programmes which are as follows:
- International Master’s Degree and Doctoral Programmes
- Professional Development and Retraining Programme for Public Servants
- Programme for Inviting Academic Personnel, Scholars and Practitioners to Georgia
The International Education Centre has already funded 77 applicants in terms of its programmes.
As we can see, the Presidential Programme for funding the studies of students has, indeed, been abolished. After 2010 (during the previous government), the aforementioned programme was run by the Ministry of Education and Science of Georgia and the Administration of the President of Georgia was not involved in the process. The Ministry of Education and Science of Georgia’s programme, Gate to Education, was transferred to the International Education Centre (founded by the Prime Minister) in 2014 and has been under the authority of the Government Chancellery since then. As for the 2013 Presidential Programme for funding students, it was a one-time initiative. Hence, the statement that the aforementioned programme was intentionally abolished by the current government is not accurate. The programme has not been abolished but, on the contrary, is now run by the International Education Centre.FactCheck concludes that the statement of Mikheil Saakashvili: "The Presidential Programme for sending students abroad has been abolished," is FALSE.