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On 19 September 2014, representative of the Parliamentary Minority, Zviad Dzidziguri, whilst a guest of the talk show Reaction (Reaktsia),

commented upon the issue of suspended students. According to Mr Dzidziguri, several students have been suspended not only because of financial liability but because of artificial circumstances, as well. He also stated: “For example, 600 students at Giuli Alasania’s University [of Georgia] have been suspended because Ms Alasania demanded the payment of their annual tuition in May.”

FactCheck

took interest in Mr Dzidziguri’s statement and studied the issue of suspended students at the University of Georgia.

According to the response received from the National Centre for Educational Quality Enhancement, it is impossible for the Centre to currently process our request for information owing to technical problems and ongoing work being conducted within its information system. The Centre recommended retrieving first-hand information directly from the University of Georgia.

The response received from the University of Georgia indicates that according to Article 8.1 of the Bachelor’s and Master’s Regulations and Article 7.2 of the PhD Regulations, administrative registration implies paying the annual tuition in full in advance of the start of the study process. Moreover, the University has a Social Affairs Commission which discusses the issues of partial/full tuition waivers.

The aforementioned response from the University of Georgia also notes that no substantial amendments were made from 2005 to 2014 concerning the mechanism for paying tuition. An important amendment was made in the University’s regulations which allowed first-year students to divide their tuition into two payments. More precisely, a student is required to pay the first semester’s tuition in full before the start of the semester. The same process is applied for the second semester with full payment of the tuition required before its start. Therefore, the given amendment could not cause an increase in the number of suspended students. Students of all other academic years pay their tuition before 15 June.

The number of suspended students at the University of Georgia in the period of 2005-2014 is as follows:

2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
0 11 200 358 110 90 125 697 415 994

Zviad Dzidziguri stated that the University of Georgia demanded that students pay their annual tuition in full in May and this is what caused the suspension of 600 students. Gvantsa Gorgadze, a representative of the University of Georgia’s Public Relations Department, dismissed the aforementioned information during our conversation with her. She indicated that the deadline for paying tuition is 15 June which means that students are obliged to pay the amount in full by this date. This requirement, however, does not concern first-year students who are permitted to divide their tuition into two payments. In those cases when a student is not able to pay the tuition in full, there is the possibility of submitting an application with a request to alter the deadlines based upon individual agreement as well as to redistribute the tuition payments. Ms Gorgadze added that students are given detailed information about tuition payment and so the University of Georgia has not violated any agreements nor has it demanded that students pay their tuition before the agreed deadline. She also noted that the deadline has been altered in favour of students upon several occasions and they are sent a reminder message about the deadline.

University of Georgia students noted during our conversation with them that the University has not demanded them to pay tuition in May before the 15 June deadline. One of the students we spoke with also noted that many wanted to maintain their university status after the end of the academic year in order to make use of academic mobility which required keeping their status active and undergoing academic registration. The cost for students to keep their student status active was GEL 50. The non-payment of this fee, in fact, was the actual reason for the suspension of multiple students.

Conclusion

This year, the number of students suspended at the University of Georgia increased two-fold, by 579. Gvantsa Gorgadze, of the University’s Public Relations Department, dismissed any activities of the University’s altering tuition deadlines and demanding earlier payments of tuition fees other than according to the deadlines envisaged in the University’s regulations. She also explained that the University makes it possible for students to redistribute their tuition payment based upon the submission of a written application. Students of the University of Georgia confirmed all of the abovementioned.

Therefore, FactCheck concludes that the statement of MP, Zviad Dzidziguri: “Six hundred students at Giuli Alasania’s University [of Georgia] have been suspended because Ms Alasania demanded the payment of their annual tuition in May,” is FALSE.

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