Caucasus University (CU), the leading local university is the only member of the Network of International Business and Economic Schools (NIBES) in the whole of the Caucasus region. The FINANCIAL interviewed Tinatin Gugberidze, CU PR Manager and Onise Alpenidze, CU Manager of International Programs, regarding the university’s development strategy across borders.
“We Live in a World of Borderless Opportunities,”
Q. A balance of countries and regions are considered when selecting new members. Normally one institution per every country (with the exception of large countries, and where there are good academic quality reasons for admitting a second or third institution from one country). Does this mean that no other business or economic school from Georgia can join NIBES?
Alpenidze. We live in a world of borderless opportunities. Since the very early days of its foundation, CU has always taken a strong international focus. Today we have 31 partner universities worldwide. Hence, CU’s actively involved in carrying out different types of student exchange programs abroad at various leading universities. Right now we have 40 students participating in CU exchange programs.
NIBES is a kind of close organization as the maximum membership limit is 25 universities due to the network’s declaration. They have 21 members now already. Before we joined NIBES, CU had bilateral agreements with other universities as well, but the advantage about the latter is that NIBES membership allows sending and receiving students among member universities and the conducting of joint research works and conferences.
To CU’s favour, I dare say we’re the only NIBES member university in the Caucasus region, and even considering the whole CIS market they have only MIRBIS- the leading economic school in Moscow, Russia and the University of Ljubljana, Slovenia.
Because the Caucasus region was quite new for NIBES, they initially send a professor to CU to do an assessment of the university. Furthermore they took into consideration the political economic stability of the country and the friendly environment students would be welcomed with in Georgia. In the end both CU in particular and Georgia, in general, met the set requirements.
Q. During the 11th Annual Meeting in Hiroshima in October 2007 the NIBES consortium accepted two new members: Caucasus University and Universidad ESAN in Lima, Peru. What’s been your motivation for joining NIBES?
Gugberidze. CU, founded in 2004, is a new institution established on the basis of the Caucasus School of Business (CSB), which on its side emerged in partnership with Georgia State University (Atlanta, GA, USA). Today CU operates three schools: Caucasus School of Business with eight years of experience, Caucasus School of law and Caucasus School of Media, a relatively new school.
NIBES membership allows us to not only send students to the network’s partner universities but also receive foreign students at CU. I would say there are still a few foreign students at our university and in Georgia in general. NIBES is the best means for attracting foreign students and getting them interested in exploring Georgia.
The role of CU is to support the fast development of the business sector in Georgia and it is well known what a pivotal role the business sector has in the country’s development overall.
Q. One of the objectives of the network is to establish innovative student exchanges, joint academic programs, field-based education distance learning, executive education programs, and other programs pertaining to student exchanges. How actively will you get involved in student exchanges in partnership with NIBES members?
Alpenidze. CU has already started negotiations with NIBES member universities in terms of exploiting student exchange programs. The interest is very high from partner universities.
Georgian students, as a rule, prefer countries that are located as far as possible from Georgia as besides studies, they say they acquire more independence and life experience from them.
We usually send up to five students to different universities abroad per semester. Exchange students are the faces of our university and of the country, so we’re very careful during the selection process.
CU saves no finances in investing reasonably in its own educational sources. For instance, we recently sent 3 of our top students to the U.S.A which cost us around USD 5 000 per student.
Q. New members are to be recommended and approved by the majority of members present at the Annual General Meeting. Who did you get the most support from?
Gugberidze. The two universities: University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark and Pforzheim University, Pforzheim, Germany were the most supportive.
NIBES membership is not only about the marketing strategy of CU. It’s equally important that the network includes universities from both: well-developed and emerging countries, enabling us to have direct opportunity to compare the development focus similarities and differences in these markets.
Q. Which other international institutions do you plan to join in the future?
Alpenidze. In the short term, we have plans for our School of Law to join the European Law Faculty Association, which is a very serious organization serving law schools in Europe. CU has submitted the application and our case is to be decided by the beginning of March.
It’s CU strategy to become member of as many international organizations as possible!