CRISIS IN HIGHER EDUCATION AND EDUCATIONAL MIGRATION FROM GEORGIA
Tamar Mikadze, Program Specialist at USAID/World Learning/START Caucasus Georgia Field Office
The paper discusses crisis in higher education, some problems related to educational migration from Georgia, and the difficulties experienced by Georgian graduates upon return. There is special focus on the culture shock and what it takes to adjust to an entirely different value system, and subsequently to the re-entry and re-adaptation processes for the returnees to Georgia. There is also clear need to study out-migration of the Georgian youth for educational and employment purposes, their attitudes, career goals, motivations and actual careers. Such information must exist, in order to improve policy-making process in education and labor market.
Since becoming independent following the disintegration of the U.S.S.R. in the beginning of 1990s, Georgia experienced a sequence of painful developments, including the bitterness of civil war and extreme economic hardship. One of the gravest obstacles to Georgia's both political and economic stability stemmed from ethnoterritorial conflicts in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, still unresolved, that in addition to general destabilizing effect caused mass forced migration, social tension and severe humanitarian problems, added to economic burden over the state and continuing to require huge material resources and political effort.
Mass poverty became for significant time one of the main sources of human misery in Georgia. Basic aspects of life such as adequate housing, healthcare access, food availability, security, education opportunities, and communication facilities became the priorities, but by no means the only aspects of life, needing attention. The great section of the population (according to minimal estimates, more than one tenth) still live on the margin of, or below, the poverty line, many owing their survival not to state safety net but to the system of informal benevolence of their extended family, friends or neighbors. According to the State Department of Statistics (SDS) in 1999 53% of households had consumption expenditure less than 110 lari and therefore were defined as poor. In contrast to 1997, poverty in 1999 was much greater in urban than in rural areas (61% in urban, 44% in rural areas). The government has been too busy coping with emergencies, such as civil uprising, banditry, hyperinflation, hunger and cold, to be able to focus on restructuring the economy according to clear objectives in the long, or even the medium, term. Economic transition from centrally controlled to a market economy was late to start, while the transition has neither been well planned and orderly nor so far greatly successful.
By the mid-1990s, however, first signs of progress and dynamics of change were already evident as more rationalism came to scene. The 1995, the year the new Constitution was adopted, the new currency was introduced, and the parliamentary and presidential elections were held, marked along with political achievements a turn-point in the economic development. After the years of economic disaster in 1996-1997 the country achieved more than 11% of annual economic growth. Lari, the new currency, appeared to be a success, as the inflation got limited to about 10% in a year, after multi-digit figures of previous years. By 1998 the per capita GDP reached about USD 950 (ppp USD 3200), which was quite a recovery after disastrous 1993-1994. However, in 1998 the new period of stagnation started, both in politics and economy, characterized by standstill in growth (GDP growth fell down to 2.9% in 1998, 1.9% in 1999, industrial production fell by about 3%, production in agriculture—almost by 10%), overwhelming corruption and the increasing disillusionment of the population. Partly this was linked to the general economic crisis and the downfall of Russian economy in particular, but, seemingly, the internal problems played the major role.
Today, economy is recovering, but very slowly. Transition to a market economy appeared to be flawed and quite painful for the impoverished population. Figures obtained from SDS surveys give between 267,000 and 400,000 unemployed (the latter figure including discouraged unemployed, i.e. those wanting, but not looking for work); 120,000 in 1997. Unemployment is still rampant—as of May 2000, there were ca. 100,000 unemployed persons throughout Georgia officially registered with the employment service, 57% of who were women. A large proportion of Georgians is underemployed in the sense that they work, but only part-time, for very little gain, and in positions for which they are overqualified.
One of the main characteristic features of the economic and political crisis throughout 1990s was the rapid emergence and steady expansion of labor out-migration, mostly to Russia, but to also Europe and U.S. According to SDS great number (34%) of migrants departed to Turkey, Ukraine and Greece. In Russia and Germany the share of such migrants is 12.0% and 16.0%, respectively. It is noteworthy that most of the migrants do not work in these countries by their profession.
The socioeconomic crisis, underway in the country for the past ten years, has directly and severely affected the education sector. The state budget for the sector in 1996 was only 5% of what it had been in 1989 (i.e. in the Soviet period). The share of education within GDP in 1991 stood at 8.2%; in 1992 it dropped to 5.0%; in 1996—to 1.3%; in l997 it was 1.5%; in 1998—1.4%, and remained at 1.4% in 1999. The sociopolitical changes that have been taking place in Georgia among other things have led to a recognized need to reform the higher education system. Despite considerable outside assistance and a burgeoning of new, private educational institutions, it is clear that the quality of higher education is still woefully inadequate to the needs of transforming Georgian society. However, under the conditions of very limited resources it is of utmost importance to set right priorities, as support of science and education is rightfully considered to be one of the priorities in building free, democratic, prosperous society.
It is widely agreed in academic and government circles that public decisions regarding education and science should be based on strategic planning and should take into account policies and developments in other sectors of the society, as well as external factors. However, strategic planning in education mostly reflects mechanically the advice of the experts of big donors such as the World Bank, and is not always adequate. The process of such planning of the country’s intellectual and economic future should take into consideration also the prospects for such global processes as forthcoming technological innovations, market forecasts and the prospects of available foreign investments, as well as risks and impacts of new pandemics, global environmental threats or the exhausting of natural resources. Capacity for maintaining international standards in this field remains a critical need, and a constraint, in the transition society of Georgia. Global processes and trends are playing a more significant role in developments of science and education in the country. Democratic institutions, open society, rule of law, market economy are obvious targets of the transition process. But also modern technology, up-to-date methodology and openness of knowledge are the priorities of development and investment in the most important capital of the country—human capital. New approaches and innovative thinking are needed in order to overcome institutional inertia and unfortunate legacy of the past.
Since 1991, higher education and science in Georgia have been the objects of important reforms. These reforms, as well as the whole process of change in these fields, went under the decisive influence of two distinct factors. One was the economic crisis and impoverishment of the state, aggravated by disruption of old administrative system; the second is an attempt of the whole nation to distance from the Communist legacy and integrate into the western world, acquire its values and standards. Current reform, the Education System Realignment and Strengthening Project (World Bank US$60 million project, the first US$25.9 million phase of which has already been launched, focuses on restructuring secondary schools) aims at systemic changes to address both individual higher education institutions and higher education system as a whole in a more coherent way. The goal is to identify ways and recognize limits to structural diversification, while considering funding resources and labor market demands, to plan and to develop curricula in ways that would make them compatible with the curricula of western universities. Higher education institutions in Georgia, however, have their built-in conservatism, a certain resistance to change, whether these initiatives come to life locally or innovations are introduced by outside forces. Whatever the view on the ways of relating societal changes and changes in higher education, the systemic reforms of the current stage have been part of a general ongoing process of transformation, and the same factors hinder their progress. Thus, there has been indeed a considerable development in the situation with the higher education in the last decade, since the declaration of Georgia's independence and revolutionary changes in all sectors of Georgian society.
The Law on Education, a result of the reform process that is underway in Georgia, adopted in June 1997, has introduced multiple changes that need now to be implemented. The main principles of this reform process are diversification and decentralization of education, both of which have brought about the establishment of new education institutions, including private ones, changes in curricula, and the introduction of new academic degree levels. The former centralized and unified system is intended to be replaced by a system, which takes into account the interests of students and professors, of the academic community, and of employers. However, lack of resources, poor management, corruption, inertia and conservatism are strong obstacles to such change. Other factors, contributing to ongoing crisis in higher education, include obsolete curricula, inflated and immobile faculty, inadequate number of narrow specializations against the background of no market demand for many of them, systemic inefficiency of state funding in supporting innovation and reform, and narrowly commercial motivation at the private institutions.
Nowadays, the existing system of higher education consists of two branches: state universities that are conservative and drastically under-funded, and private "commercial" institutes that are aimed at profit, thus structurally unable to pursue any other goals. Increased demand for lecturers and opportunities for additional salaries enabled many university professors to continue their professional activities at private institutes. Material resources of these institutes are mostly quite scarce; they usually rent classrooms in schools only for the part of the day. Others that were opened on the bases of academy research institutes (e.g. the Institute of Medical Psychology based on the D. Uznadze Institute of Psychology, or Institute of Asia and Africa at the research Institute of Oriental Studies) attract staff and material resources of respective institutions.
On the other hand, there are "old" research institutes of the Academy of Sciences or other state institutions, which are in dire financial conditions, and new independent research groups, which depend on short-term contracts and grants. Under the circumstances, there exists no knowledge of available intellectual resources in the field of science. However, the general tendency of education and research toward deterioration seems to be shifting to a more diverse system with some improvements and some decline. In the areas where competition with private institutions is strong, primarily in such fields as oriental studies, economics, law or medicine, the general level of education is benefiting from the new environment, while elsewhere, special efforts are still needed to avoid a catastrophic deterioration in the quality of studies. Promotion of private education may be a useful supplement to free state education, and an opportunity to reduce pressure on state institutions, but cannot yet replace this system.
Traditionally, universities and other institutions of higher education were supposed to teach, while research institutes of the Academy, and some other (semi)governmental structures, were supposed to do research. Such division of scarce professional resources between the universities, and the academic research institutes, is highly counterproductive. At universities lecturers have to teach for too many academic hours, so that they have no more energy or time or inclination to pursue effective research (aggravated now by the necessity to look for supplementary income in order not to starve). At the research institutes, scientists have little access to teaching. They have also little access to research grants that are distributed on frequently biased basis among research groups with better connections or formal status, instead of the quality of project proposals. This latter situation somewhat improved recently, with regard to increased teaching opportunities, along with the opening of educational institutions in the framework of the academic research institutes. However, this helped more the survival of the scientists and the proliferation of educational institutions, but less to the improvement of conditions for scientific research.
There are two levels in modern higher education system in Georgia: non-university level higher education (educational programs not leading to academic degrees) and university level higher education (educational programs leading to academic degrees). There are 23 state higher education establishments with ca. 90,000 students and 160 private institutions with about 40,000 students, these institutions offering educational programs in such fields as law, medicine, economics, and established over the last eight years. Tbilisi State University, Georgian Technical University and few other traditional educational centers remain still the principal and recognized centers for such studies. Here one can study and obtain scientific degrees, master’s and bachelor’s academic degrees both at free of charge and paid departments. Faculties are on a meager state budget, only external grants, mostly from international organizations, allow faculties to obtain facilities and finance some research. Parallel to this, Tbilisi State Pedagogical University prepares pedagogues, school psychologists and psychotherapists, while Georgian Technical University recently opened faculty of humanities where it offers the students degrees in public relations, commercial law, public administration, and in international and regional conflict resolution.
Still, effective system of higher education and scientific research, development of institutional capacity for maintaining international standards in this field, remain a critical need, and a constraint, in the transition society of Georgia. Today, Georgian higher education continues to be desperately poor and hideously disorganized. For all that, being nurtured, it could be one of the country’s richest remaining assets. The post-Communist situation theoretically brought about great demand for expertise in modern sciences, which stood in sharp contrast to supply of available human resources. Disruption of the system has changed the existing stereotypes. It also produced new demands and when faced with the need to perform, many educated people, despite a considerable share of highly qualified persons among them, found themselves unprepared to intervene in the solution of urgent and vital sociopolitical problems. This fact contributed to the discrediting of education in the public eye. Many prominent or promising scientists with already established contacts with the Western scientific centers went to work abroad. Some others established private organizations and tried to attract international funds, or moved to more commercial, often less inspiring spheres, if not abandoning at all their professional field and getting engaged in activities much less satisfying intellectually, which did not require any academic skills. Apart from purely economic restrictions (academic positions do not provide minimal livelihood), there exists no satisfactory academic community and stimulating atmosphere in science, as stagnant climate in academic institutions, which degenerated into strongholds of conservatism, is of little attraction for young professionals, who normally choose technical but better paid jobs at commercial, foreign or international organizations. Situation in academia is in stagnation not solely due to catastrophic under-funding, as it is often explained. Even those scarce funds that are available are used in highly inefficient way and only assist in prolonging the agony of scientific institutes, distributed (unevenly) between over-inflated bureaucratic staff of the Academy of Sciences, or other analogous institutes, and impoverished but numerous personnel of the research institutes, who receive symbolic salaries that keep them on the verge of starvation but prevent from looking for other and possibly better labor opportunities.
The advantages of existing intellectual and economical potential that could contribute to rapid development of the country are thus mostly neglected. It does not need any arguing, that one of the key difficulties in carrying on the reforms and transforming the society into a more open and democratic one, is the lack of qualified specialists especially in policy analysis, law, economics and other neighboring areas, as well as the absence of any efficient mechanism for their reproduction. It is often pointed out that Georgia has to depend too much on western experts in creating new legislation or developing macro-economic policies, which creates not only practical but also political problems. Education and research in the field of social science, economics and law, notwithstanding its uttermost importance in building democratic and prosperous society, is in dire condition. Georgia is also losing its more advanced position in natural sciences and engineering, with gradual deterioration of the quality of teaching and student motivation.
Summarizing, general situation with sciences and higher education, as well as the labor market for the graduates, have drastically changed during the past years and this change occurred in the structure as well as the content of education, but it is still highly inadequate. As there is still very high motivation among students to acquire good education, they look at increased opportunities and choices for study abroad or inside the country, that go along with the increase of importance of professional knowledge and skills. Whatever are the ways and procedures of receiving higher education by a young person, the real problem is what to do next with the diploma or degree, if a person wants to continue the career in the field he has chosen. Hence, it is not unnatural that since the collapse of the Soviet Union, more and more of the Georgian youth are taking their chance by going abroad, for work or study. However, paradoxically enough, even those who get their degrees in western universities, often do not find themselves requested for or, most of the western graduates, who have returned to Georgia after finishing their studies, found work either in international organizations, the government, or in business, as these were the only opportunities providing subsistence and career opportunities.
Increasing numbers of the Georgian youth are leaving the country to obtain higher education abroad at undergraduate or graduate level, most often in Germany and the United States. The greatest out-migration negative balance (20.8%) is among migrants of age under 30 (SDS). Large number of people in the same age group leaves the country for Germany (arrival—47.7%, departure—56%). Unfortunately, SDS does not specify the purpose of their migration, but we can easily assume that this is the age group (20-30) that most frequently leaves the country for education purposes. As for the U.S.A., Georgia saw overall increase of 37.3% in enrollment in U.S. universities during 1994/95. Two offices in Tbilisi assist students with finding opportunities for studying abroad. Successful applicants have a possibility to study at such educational centers as the Warwick University, London School of Economics, Edinburgh University and at Oxford (U.K.), also at American University in Bulgaria. Post-graduate students can continue their studies at the Central European University (CEU). There are already more than a hundred alumni of CEU in Georgia. IREX is mostly engaged at promoting exchange and providing scholarships. During past two years three students and scholars in the field of sciences got scholarships, lasting from three to eight months, to work in different Universities in U.S.A. Many of them afterwards decide to stay in the country, either due to reluctance to readjust to much worse living conditions, or non-confident of finding adequate use of their professional qualification, increasing emigration and contributing to brain drain. For the majority of Georgian students, the majority of whom speak English or German, with more rare French or Italian, there are several ways to study abroad.
In some cases (this is a relatively small group) students come from comparatively wealthy families and are able to pay for the studies, or can fund studies by individually secured sponsors. However, one of the common ways to go for study abroad is to take part in various exchanges, competitions, undergraduate or graduate fellowship programs (e.g. in the U.S. and in Germany, these programs coordinated by IREX, ACTR/ACCELS, OSI, DAAD, place students at various colleges and universities. E.g. since 1992, about 150 Georgian citizens earned their degrees at American universities through Muskie/FSA Graduate Fellowship Program). Students funded by these organizations are in relatively favorable conditions, as in most cases their basic needs are met and they show as a rule excellent performance. Many, however, rely on the Western bank loans mostly in the United States, but more and more in Europe; In these cases, after graduation the former students have to pay back for their credit, which is virtually impossible while in their home country with low salary level—hence, the majority of such graduates stay and work abroad for prolonged period as minimum.
There are certain reasons why so many Georgian students go to Germany to study there, apart from relatively widespread knowledge of the language. In Germany, the system of higher education is practically free. In addition, there is an opportunity to work and earn for livelihood. However, students in Germany have often to work hard in order to earn money for their livelihood, and many of them even send some assistance to their families back at home. Frequently, such students show poor performance, continue their study for many years, and sometimes even get involved in illegal activities.
Studying in a foreign country can be a wonderful, thrilling experience, although it can also be stressful. The stress experienced by almost all students in a foreign country is the most common problem known as “culture shock.” In order to better understand adjustment difficulties, one should remember that our ability to function in the world depends on our capacity to read hundreds of signs, respond to questions, and behave according to countless explicit and implicit rules. Much of what we do during our life requires little thought. We have learned the norms, traditions and the value system from our ancestors. Abroad, the reverse is true and very simple tasks become difficult to perform. This disorientation causes severe stress and sometimes depression. The more unprepared a person is to enter a different culture the more severe impact the culture shock has. Awareness that shock will happen reduces the stress that may follow.
Students go through various phases of culture shock. A newly arrived often does not find the local culture very different from where he/she came from. However, after the initial excitement is over students start increasingly noticing distinctive features of their native and the host culture. This is when the clash of the value systems takes place. This stage often lasts for quite a long period, up to 6 months. Over time students gradually adapt to the new culture and they almost become carriers of two value systems. The length and the intensity of exposure to a foreign culture decides whether a student returns to the home country a totally new person and whether living abroad re-makes the student and causes drastic changes in his/her belief system.
Culture shock is only one of the many difficulties that a Georgian student will be encountering abroad. From the viewpoint of professional development, it is even more important that in many cases the background education received in Georgia will be inadequate basis for continuing study in different academic environment, even if in some areas (natural sciences, mathematics) the basic knowledge may be quite good. So, for instance, Georgians find difficulty in expressing themselves at workshops or in classes, formulating ideas in clear, explicitly structured format, only partly due to linguistic deficiency but rather the drawbacks of the received educational background. On the positive side, however, there is high creativity, openness to new ideas, and non-traditional perspective, which enables Georgian students when put in favorable conditions to make quick progress.
Many Georgian students look for continuation of their studies abroad or search a job and possibilities to stay there after graduation. Brain drain is squeezing out of the country scarce intellectual resources still remaining. According to SDS, out-migration balance (–26.2%) is the highest among migrants having scientific degree. Many of gifted young graduates, as well as many scientists with name, seek work abroad, and hardly will contribute to the future development of Georgian science if no special measures are undertaken. Although it is hardly either morally or pragmatically reasonable to insist that such trend, related to so called brain drain, is really harmful for the native country. Indeed, country loses this way many talented and well-educated young people, but the question should be considered against the background of other options and the possible benefits as well. It should be kept in mind that this precious human potential might be essentially misused if brought to Georgia in current conditions, as judged on the experience of those who did return. If a talented young person has no conditions for self-realization and development in his native country, there is no reason why he/she should not look for other opportunities of doing so, including emigration. At the same time, intellectual diasporas may be a great source of information, support and example for the homeland, and Georgia would have gained a lot if during painful transitional years it could rely on economically and intellectually strong community of compatriots living abroad, as was the case with many other countries in similar situation. Indeed, most of students studying abroad would prefer the possibility to maintain close ties with their homeland, including professional links, if such opportunities would be available, even if they decide to stay abroad after graduation; in those cases when some efforts to maintain professional contacts are made, the percentage of return, and/or partial return (visiting lecturers, temporary jobs, etc.) are much higher.
However, notwithstanding the importance of the issue of educational migration for planning state policies, no statistical data or qualitative information is available on the students currently involved in graduate/undergraduate studies abroad. We know little about the accessibility of work and education abroad for Georgian youth; availability and actual usage of funding to study abroad, opportunities for the local partnership work-study programs. Even less is known about the geographical, professional and age distribution of graduate/undergraduate students and labor migrants in the U.S.A., Western Europe, and other countries.
Decision to Return
Readiness to go abroad is in strong correlation with dissatisfaction with sociocultural environment and the existing opportunities for self-realization; along the same lines, readiness to return home is in correlation with expectations for such opportunities at home, and the shifted system of values (privacy and independence, e.g.) as compared to moral atmosphere at home causing serious readjustment problems after actual return (the latter in many cases causes second attempt to move abroad, often this time for good).
Not only the intention to proceed with professional career or psychological motivation, but also external and economic factors, such as the necessity to pay back education loans (impossible due to low salaries when at home), assist their families at home, hinder the return of many young persons to the homeland, and often oblige them to look for any, often inadequate, job abroad. However, those who decide to return often find extreme difficulty in readjusting to their native environment, in finding a job that allows them to use their newly acquired knowledge and skills as well as provide adequate livelihood, and to accepting the much less opportunities for development than in the country where they had studied. They feel as foreign nationals in a native country, alienated, out of place, lost, and frustrated.
No research has been conducted in Georgia on re-entry problems and the so-called “reverse culture shock,” why graduates find it difficult to adjust back to the culture they have been living for so long. When American students go back to their country after “study-abroad” programs, or, when oversees western employees return home, it is easier for them to find information on reverse culture shock. Numerous books have been written about it and people attend workshops and seminars to learn how to cope with it. Two-thirds to three-quarters of companies in the U.S.A. offer some kind of orientation for employees heading abroad and 28% have a repatriation program for returnees. Of course, it would be far from the truth to say that a pre-departure orientation or literature would enable a returnee to overpower the side effects of the reverse culture shock. However, it is also true that the better prepared the returnee is the more likelihood there is to combat stress and depression. It should be noted that a Georgian graduate has much more to cope with judging from the level of our country’s development, unstable political situation, and rampant unemployment in comparison with the country the student is returning from.
Women returnees have to cope with more difficulties than men do, experiencing more difficulty and conflict upon returning because the Georgian society has a strong patriarchal tradition and set of roles in the family and work place. The greater potentials for personal conflict within women returnees have those who have strengthened their independence during overseas study. Initial enthusiasm and excitement, euphoria at finally being home where one has longed so much to return during the study years are rapidly replaced by stress and frustration. It is common in this stage to start to withdraw oneself into self-isolation, finding it hard to socialize with old friends.
Still, there are even more severe problems waiting for the returnees later, when they start looking for jobs. The labor market is rather specific in Georgia, and there are few options for the young graduate who wants to work. The remuneration is incomparably smaller than one got used to in the West, and most positions such as university teachers or government employees would hardly provide for livelihood. So, the person has either to look for a business-related occupation, or try to find work at one of international organizations, which provide much higher salaries for local staff, although humiliatingly smaller than those for expatriates, who may be much less qualified and competent than the young graduates they are supervising. What is even worse is that in many cases such jobs are more technical in nature, and hardly make use of the skills and knowledge acquired with such pains and effort during study abroad, apart maybe of the language skills. This also can be called a brain drain, although internal one.
Although this is the general picture, little statistical information exists on the availability of jobs for graduates, the professional types of jobs on the market in their relation to supply structure. Equally important is to study the attitudes toward homeland and returning among graduates, percentages of students pursuing permanent employment abroad or returning immediately upon graduation, and the trends of the labor demand structure. One is clear, there is a clear need for strong intervention, if all the human capital returning from abroad is not to be wasted.
One of the ways to help returned graduates in their readjustment is their support through various alumni associations, that could do a lot in cushioning the painful processes described, providing advice, assisting in finding jobs or even economically helping to go through the tough period of job search. Unfortunately, most of these are underdeveloped bureaucratic structures with little capacity to help, instead involved in publishing glossy but hardly ever read bulletins and cumulating whatever scarce sources are available for PR activities and profile raising.
Still, it is in the first place the responsibility of the government to design mechanisms and means for effective readjustment and adequate employment of returned graduates, through special programs, probably in close cooperation with leading international donors.
Massive movements out of the country during the past twelve years have gone to significant extent unrecorded. Data on education and labor migrants are largely unavailable, or are inconsistent over time and otherwise unreliable where they do exist. The existing surveys cannot altogether make up for the lack of reliable and regular employment statistics, which distinguish a labor force divided only into the employed/unemployed. On the other hand, available education statistics, data on public expenditure on education, and enrollment rates, are not sufficient for policy-making purposes. Definitely, a more meaningful classification should give the breakdown of the statistic data according to more detail including education and labor migrant categories.
The lack of valid and consistent statistics on educational and labor migration has seriously impeded the policymaking process in Georgia. Existence of the statistical and qualitative data would enable the policymakers to design measures for attracting Georgian graduates of foreign universities instead of inviting expensive foreign consultants who are at the same time unaware of country specificities. Understanding emigration trends will enable them to look for compensatory mechanisms for avoiding demographic imbalance, and securing equity in access to opportunities and resources. In order to improve planning it is necessary to:
- and measure accessibility of education abroad for Georgian youth, effectiveness of the programs designed and implemented by Western organizations to support undergraduate and graduate studies at various prestigious American and Western European universities for talented youth in Georgia, availability and actual usage of funding to study abroad;
- geographical, demographic and professional distribution of graduate/undergraduate students in the U.S.A., Western Europe and other countries: universities the students are placed at by various programs, or are individually chosen by applicants, their majors, and levels of study; to assess the educational failures and their causes;
- research and measure accessibility of labor abroad for Georgian women, and youth in general, after graduation: in-depth study of the local partnership work-study programs to help women/men obtain employment in North America, Western European and other countries, duration of migration, present employment of migrants; balance of out-migration; geographical, age, gender and professional distribution of labor migrants;
- availability of jobs abroad for Georgian graduates, and at home for graduate returnees: host university job fairs and web-site vacancy announcements in Georgia; attitudes toward homeland/returning: percentages of students pursuing permanent employment abroad/returning immediately upon graduation; career plans and preferences;
- the motivation and incentives of young persons deciding to study abroad/stay at home; obstacles, among others of cultural nature, hindering young women/men to study abroad or to return home afterwards, psychological and sociocultural aspects of the issue;
- recommendations, based on the collected data, on a strategy for addressing the challenges facing governmental agencies dealing with planning, education, and migration.