Myths and Facts
Myth: Kakha Bendukidze got hold of the assets of the Agrarian University for 1 GEL.
Fact: Upon the government’s request and initiative, Kakha Bendukidze decided to invest in the development of science, research and education in the agriculture sphere. The government offered him the following conditions: a payment of 8.5 million GEL in installments in accordance with a set timeline and the investment of the same amount into the university. By now, this investment has added up to 12 million GEL. In total, over the past two years, Kakha Bendukidze has spent 80 million GEL for educational purposes through the Knowledge Fund. The state has spent only 180 million GEL in this sector over the period of the past five years.
Myth: Through the Agrarian University Kakha Bendukidze misappropriated the assets of scientific-research institutes.
Fact: Fourteen scientific-research institutes were merged with the State Agrarian University on the order of the Georgian government in 2010, that is before the Foundation for Agrarian Education and Science purchased the university. As a result, the university was left with only five buildings belonging to the scientific-research institutes. The remaining scientific-research institute buildings, the majority of which are located in prestigious districts of Tbilisi, still belong to the state. Among those is the building housing the National Center for Education Quality Enhancement which stripped the Agrarian University of its authorization. Moreover, in the past, the state financed each of these institutes with dozens of millions of lari. When the Foundation became the owner of the university, the state stopped that financing. These institutes are now maintained at the expense of the Agrarian University.
Myth: The cost of education in the Agrarian University has increased and now it is the second most expensive university in Georgia after the Free University.
Fact: The cost of education has not increased in the Agrarian University. It is almost the same as in state universities and comprises 2,400 GEL a year.
Myth: Kakha Bendukidze was handed property worth 400 million USD. This allegation is based on information given by a former lecturer of the university, according to whom the Agrarian University owns 800 ha of land in Tbilisi’s Digomi district, each square meter of which costs 50 USD.
Fact: The land owned by the Agrarian University in Digomi is 60 ha, i.e. 13 times less than the alleged 800 ha. The sale of the land of the State Agrarian University and its scientific-research institutes started in 1991. It is possible that during the Soviet period, the Agrarian University and the scientific-research institutes falling under it indeed had 800 ha of land, but during the past two decades these areas were sold for various reasons. It is also worth noting that the expensive plots of land belonging to the State Agrarian University had all been sold before 2003. These areas currently house car trading companies, gas stations, restaurants and many other establishments. Moreover, agricultural land encumbered with a liability (which the Foundation cannot sell for commercial purposes) cannot be worth 50 USD per square meter.
Myth: During the past two years (after obtaining its most recent authorization/accreditation) the situation in the Agrarian University of Georgia has deteriorated so much that it became necessary, for the first time ever in the history of the Georgian education system, to conduct unplanned procedures and rescind the authorization of the University.
• Fifty laboratories fitted with state-of-the-art equipment, six new research centers, and the best veterinary clinic in the region were created and have been successfully operating since 2011.
• The salaries of academic staff have increased 3.5 times.
• Up to 20 Georgian scholars who conducted successful scientific work abroad have returned to Georgia and the Agrarian University.
• According to the indicator of entrants to higher education institutions in 2012, the Agrarian University ranked sixth, up from 37 the year before.
• The Agrarian University has financed 47 research projects which are currently in progress and their total annual budget comprises 800,000 GEL.