For more than 2 weeks, Tbilisi State University students have been protesting against the decision of the university administration to fully switch from remote to traditional education from May 2 and demand the maintenance of the hybrid model until the end of the current academic year.
The decision of Tbilisi State University exposed many problems. It is unclear what urgency necessitated the decision to fully resume traditional education 2 months before the end of the education year. It is obvious that such a short time will not have a significant positive impact on the quality of education. It was also easy to anticipate that in May-June, thousands of students living in the regions would not be able to find accommodation in Tbilisi, especially given the rising rental prices due to the influx of Russian visitors. However, the university administration did not consider the above and does not plan to change its decision even after the student protests.
Students and some of the professors have told various media outlets that the decision to resume traditional education had not been made democratically or inclusively, with the participation of students or professors. No broad discussions were held at the university about the reasonability of the above decision or the readiness of students and lecturers to return to traditional education from May 2.
Apart from the fact that the opinion of the university community had not been considered before making the above decision, the university administration, and first of all its rector, avoid holding an open dialogue with students. Instead, the police entered the university in order to control the protesters.
The above-mentioned decision of the university revealed a number of bureaucratic and infrastructural problems at Tbilisi State University. The most acute one is the accommodation of students. The promise to build a new student dormitory was made by the university rector together with the Government.
Given the existing problems, it is essential for the university administration to meet the students' fair demand to maintain the hybrid model until the end of the current academic year. And to address other systemic problems accumulated, the university administration, instead of making closed and bureaucratic decisions, should create a platform for open, democratic dialogue with the broad involvement of students and professors. The idea of the university implies democratic decision-making based on exchange of opinions and it is unacceptable for the university to be run by decisions made exclusively by one person or one bureaucratic group.