The LSMU study programmes in English and exchange opportunities were presented in Sakartvelo
On 20-24 February, LSMU international programmes coordinators of International Relations and Study Centre - Žaneta Dičkutė, Kęstutis Gasevičius and foreign student psychologist Jevgenij Razgulin went to Sakartvelo, Tbilisi, where together with the Lithuanian Education Exchanges Support Foundation and other Lithuanian universities participated in the international Sakartvelo study fair.
During the visit, LSMU representatives were invited to meet Ambassador in Sakartvelo of the Republic of Lithuania - Giedrius Puodžiūnas. Representatives of the embassy shared information about the country's cultural peculiarities, news of educational system and migration, also advised on the methods to be used in entering to this market, and kindly promised their assistance.
The International Study Fair was exceptional by the amount of visitors, active interest in participating institutions and we were fascinated by the young people knowledge of the English language and the purposeful search for information about the study programmes of interest. LSMU representatives responded to visitors’ questions, introduced study programmes in English, also the state scholarships offered by the Republic of Lithuania to the residents of Sakartvelo and further employment opportunities after completing their studies in Lithuania. Young people studying at Sakartvelo Universities were interested in opportunities to study at LSMU master degree programmes or participate in exchange programmes and study at LSMU for a semester or a full academic year. The group of Sakartvelo students from Lithuanian Language and Culture Center helped Lithuanian higher education institutions and encouraged visitors to study in a friendly country.
Žaneta Dičkutė, LSMU International Programmes Coordinator, also visited three Tbilisi Higher Education Institutions - Tbilisi State Medical University, Georgian National University and The University of Georgia (in February 2019 was submitted a joint application for an Erasmus + exchange project supporting higher education mobility activities between Program Countries and Partner Countries).
LSMU and Sakartvelo Universities seek funding for the Erasmus + programme for mutual students exchange for studies, traineeships as well as lecturers and staff mobility activities, so visits to universities and meetings with international programmes coordinators, faculty representatives and students from partner universities have been important for the successful preparation of the Erasmus+ project implementation and administration.
In Tbilisi State Medical University (TSMU) a meeting was arranged with the Head of International Relations Department Nino Kandelaki and Head of the Foreign Studies Department prof. David Topuria, who exchanged their experience of international project coordination and discussed administrative issues for the joint Erasmus+ exchange project. TSMU is one of the oldest and largest medical science universities in Sakartvelo, with its structure and size close to LSMU: it has about 8,000 students, including 2300 international students from 61 countries worldwide. Already for 20 years, the Medical study programmes at TSMU run in three languages: Kartvelian, Russian and English, which attracts foreign citizens for a comparatively small tuition fee. In the Erasmus+ exchange program, TSMU cooperates with a large number of universities in European countries and exchanges with LSMU are seen as an excellent opportunity to gain valuable experience in the implementation and application of the Problem Based Learning (PBL) method in the study process. TSMU is currently undergoing structural changes in study programmes, transforming subjects into modules, and according to prof. D. Topuria, TSMU students and teachers mobility to LSMU will help to learn about different structure of study programmes and acquire new learning skills and educational competences.
The TSMU International Relations Department staff organized a University tour, introduced the Simulation Center, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Training Laboratories. Also, the Deans of the Faculties and the members of student organizations were invited to the meeting with the LSMU International Programmes Coordinator, who presented the LSMU structure, academic, clinical and international activities, study programmes in English, and Erasmus+ project mobility results. Students were particularly interested in the possibilities of Erasmus studies and placements at LSMU, practical mobility issues, social services and financial support for students.
At Georgian National University (SEU), the LSMU representative was invited to meet with Nino Chkhikvadze, International Relations Division Coordinator, Lia Leverashvili, Medical Programme Manager, and Vice-Rector for Studies and International Cooperation Giorgi Tskhvediani. SEU is the largest private university in the country, founded in 2001, where the Medical Study Programme was launched only five years ago, but it runs only in English, with local and foreign students studying together. So far, the SEU cannot display a large number of foreign students, but Vice-Rector Tskhvediani emphasized that young and energetic academic staff, actively involved in the introduction of new innovative teaching methods and tools, help to develop a dynamic study environment and attract more students from other countries. In September 2019, the door should be opened of newly built and equipped SEU administrative and training center, and in the future it aims to create an integrated base of study and clinical practice. Currently, the SEU Medical Center carries out primary health care, and clinical discipline students are studying in other Tbilisi hospitals with whom SEU has a cooperation agreement.
The infrastructure of another private Georgian university (UG) is also rapidly expanding: the labs that still smell of paint, and the phantom practical work rooms are waiting for students returning after the autumn semester. Established in 2004 as a US University, UG follows the values of the Western world and seeks to develop a free, creative, critical minded citizen of the world. Medical and Dentistry study programmes are only in English, with the majority of foreign students enrolled in these study programmes (1032 international students). During the visiting tour Elene Gigineishvili, head of the Odontology programme, named the advantages of UG: The Faculty of Odontology is equipped with the latest demonstration equipment and materials, training is in small groups, and during the practical work, the lecturer has no more than 5 students. One of the greatest program attractiveness indicators, E. Gigineishvili has named exchange agreements with US universities for short-term odontology studies and internships, and UG is proud to have a large number of partnerships in various regions of the world - Europe, North America, as well as Japan, Australia. According to Giorgi Imedashvili, Head of International Students and International Relations at UG, active international activities, participation in international projects, development of international study programmes is the goal and tool of the whole academic community of establishing a high UG position among the Sakartvelo universities and justifying the name of innovative university.
The sincere wish of Sakartvelo universities to cooperate with the LSMU in exchange programme and other international projects has shown that the University is recognised as a significant partner in the European region, and the Erasmus + project opens up wide opportunities for the exchange of new ideas, knowledge and experience.
Authors: Žaneta Dičkutė, Kęstutis Gasevičius, Jevgenij Razgulin. (Photos by authors)