The Parliament approved on July 12 with 90 votes to 8 amendments to the law on high education with its second hearing after bill’s initial version passed with the first reading month ago was revised by removing its most controversial provision, which was giving the PM right to appoint provisional heads of state universities.
Allowing the PM to appoint acting rectors of state universities was opposed not only by some academic circles and UNM parliamentary minority group, but also by some lawmakers from the Georgian Dream coalition as well.
The bill, sponsored by the Education Ministry, now says that in case of pre-term termination of rector’s authority, the acting head of the university, who should lead the institution before election of new rector, should be appointed by “electoral board”, composed by those holding academic posts in a respective institution and who hold doctoral or equivalent academic degrees; as a result electoral board will be more representative body than university’s governing body, Academic Council, which under the existing law is in charge of appointing acting head before the election of new rector.
The UNM lawmakers welcomed that the bill was revised; they, however, also said that they did not agree with some other provisions, including new academic raking criteria, according to which doctoral degree seekers will no longer be able to hold assistant professor’s position.
The bill requires for a rector to be a holder of doctoral or equivalent academic degree – the provision was part of the law before it was removed by the previous parliament in July, 2010. About one month later, Alexandre Kvitashvili, former healthcare minister, became the rector of the Tbilisi State University (TSU) in August 2010. Kvitashvili does not hold doctoral degree; Kvitashvili resigned in June, 2013 and now is an acting rector of TSU after the amendments to the law on high education was initiated.
Tamar Sanikidze, deputy education minister, told lawmakers on July 12 that the provision obligating a rector to be a holder of doctoral degree would only apply to state universities.