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The Minister of Education and Science of Georgia, Mikheil Chkhenkeli, held an introductory meeting with the newly appointed Ambassador of the European Union to Georgia, Pawel Herczynski. The parties discussed the details of the existing and future cooperation between Georgia and the European Union in the field of education and science. The minister congratulated the EU ambassador on his new position and wished him success in his work.
Mikheil Chkhenkeli expressed his gratitude towards the EU ambassador for his support and close cooperation with Georgia and spoke about the Horizon Europe program. According to the minister, in 2021, with the direct involvement of the Prime Minister of Georgia, Mr. Irakli Gharibashvili, Georgia became a member of the European Union's new research and innovation framework program, Horizon Europe. The international agreement of association was signed in Brussels in a solemn ceremony. As a result, the scientific community of Georgia now has the opportunity to participate in the competitions announced within the research and innovation program with a budget of 95.5 billion euros under the same conditions and rights as the representatives of the scientific and innovation circles of the EU. It should be noted that the national and grant offices of Horizon Europe are already functioning and are operational in Georgia.
The minister also spoke about the full membership of COST, the Association of European Cooperation of Science and Technology of Georgia, which gives Georgian scientists the greatest opportunities for development. Mikheil Chkhenkeli noted that on March 30-31, a meeting of the Supreme Leaders' Committee and the General Assembly was held in Paris, where the representatives of COST member states unanimously supported Georgia's joining the European cooperation family. This was a clear demonstration that the scientific field of Georgia is an integral part of the European research space.
According to Mikheil Chkhenkeli, Georgia's membership of COST and Horizon Europe is a great step forward in the direction of our country's return to the European family.
The minister informed the newly appointed ambassador of the European Union about the main mega-project of the education system - the Kutaisi International University and focused on its development prospects. Mikheil Chkhenkeli emphasized that the idea and concept of the university entirely belongs to Mr. Bidzina Ivanishvili. It was because of his and his family's extremely important contribution that a world-class academic and scientific-research space emerged in the country.
According to Mikheil Chkhenkeli, the high standard and degree of internationalization of the university is determined by the approach that provides for the creation of academic programs in a specific field in cooperation with the world's leading universities. The minister noted that the programs currently operating at the university are analogous to those of the Technical University of Munich. According to him, the cooperation with the world's leading universities is actively continuing and new academic programs for all three levels of education are gradually being added to the higher educational institution.
As the minister stated, Kutaisi International University, which became fully operational in 2020, has been soaring in popularity ever since, which is an indication that its development is taking place with the right strategy. Based on the results of the unified national exams of 2022, according to the average competitive score, Kutaisi International University is the first choice amongst students in the country.
Furthermore, during the meeting with the ambassador of the European Union, Mikheil Chkhenkeli also mentioned that with the funding of the "Kartu" foundation, a Hadron therapy centre is being built on the premises of the Kutaisi International University, where international scientific circles will be involved in the process of conducting research in the direction of oncology and proton therapy. The ultra-modern cyclotrons of the centre have already been installed in the world's leading manufacturer of proton therapy equipment for cancer diseases – IBA. It should be noted that one cyclotron will be entirely intended for scientific research in medical and nuclear physics, while the other will be used for cancer treatment. According to the minister, the fact that one cyclotron is entirely dedicated for research causes a special interest from the international scientific community. This is evidenced by the fact that many famous foreign scientists have already expressed their desire to participate in the research process together with Georgian counterparts.
On the other hand, Ambassador of the European Union in Georgia Pawel Herczynski, gave a positive assessment to the ongoing mega-project in the Georgian education system and stated that the establishment and development of a new university corresponding to European quality is really impressive. According to Pawel Herczynski, he is glad that European scientists are actively involved in the development of Kutaisi International University.
During the meeting, the conversation also touched upon the issues of internationalization of vocational education in Georgia. The minister particularly highlighted the addition of the vocational education component to the Erasmus+ program and expressed his gratitude to the European Union for this opportunity. At the end of the meeting, the parties agreed to enhance the existing cooperation in terms of vocational education development.