New model of education:
Donate, support young Georgians and get educated workforce

Stephan Weber, President Emeritus at San Diego State University donated first $1,000 in Public Private Partnership. Photo by N. Alavidze/, Nov 20, 2016, Tbilisi, Georgia

The lives of Georgia’s smartest and most in-need youth will be dramatically improved thanks to a new Public Private Partnership Fund established by the San Diego State University (SDSU) in Georgia.

The main goal of establishing the Public Private Partnership Fund was to help Georgian students receive a quality education in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) fields and help private and public entities fill the demand towards well-educated and highly skilled human capital.

Now the newly established Fund is calling on the private sector to provide financial resources and make the American degree programs affordable for talented, successful, socially deprived young people through scholarships.

In return, the Fund will partner with private and public entities in Georgia to help equip companies with STEM professionals, offer internship, mentorship and research opportunities.

We believe in Georgia. We believe in SDSU and the potential of current and future students" said Stephan Weber, President Emeritus at San Diego State University.
I want to assure you that the US Government strongly supports this program. This is a critical part of our investment in Georgia’s success. I encourage you all to think creatively about how you can support this joint US-Georgia initiative,” he said.

Stephan Weber, President Emeritus at San Diego State University. Photo by N. Alavidze/

Weber made the first donation supporting Georgian students and encouraged others to also contribute "to bring Georgia to a better place”.

I am a philosopher, which means I am not a wealthy man. Please allow me the honour of contributing the first $1,000 in this emerging partnership,” said Weber.

San Diego State University is a public research university in California, United States (US) and is the largest and oldest higher education institution in San Diego county. Starting with the first students in 2015, San Diego State University offered internationally accredited Bachelor of Science programs at its satellite campus in Georgia's capital Tbilisi. These programs allow Georgian students to receive a high quality education in STEM and earn American degrees right here in their homeland.

These are young Georgian students who study at San Diego State University satellite campus in Georgia's capital Tbilisi. Photo by N. Alavidze/

Forming a satellite SDSU campus in Georgia was a unique project;it is the first of its kind to offer US University degree programs in Georgia.

A $30 million investment from the US Government, funded through the Millennium Challenge Corporation’s (MCC) Second Compact, made it possible to form the San Diego State University Georgia, which opened in 2015. It opened with more than 200 students from all over the country, 15 international students from six different nations and nine American exchange students from the California SDSU campus.

Now, in its second year of operations, SDSU Georgia has more than 200 students and is attracting Georgia’s best and brightest to its internationally accredited Bachelor of Science degree programs. This diverse student body – 25 percent socially vulnerable students, 40 percent from the regions and 40 percent female – is world-class not only here in Georgia but also globally.

Photo by N. Alavidze/ interviewed Stephan Weber, President Emeritus at San Diego State University and discussed the benefits of Private Partnership Fund for Georgian students.

Q. What is the tradition of a Public Private Partnership and why are they so mutually beneficial?

A. Well the US has a history of philanthropy of private giving to public endeavours. Georgia, like most of the world, does not. I am not one of those people who believe the US always gets things right. Our recent Presidential Election might be evidence that we are far from being perfect but there are some things we do exceedingly well - great public universities like San Diego State University are at the top of that list.

The universities and colleges in the US offer great opportunities to the tens of thousands of international students to get a high-class education. But wouldn't it be wonderful if they did not have to make that journey [abroad] and they could have the same experience right here in Georgia? And this is what the program is about - to give Georgian students chance to develop the skills that their country needs and to do it here, at home.

We are launching an important partnership. It will benefit Tbilisi and Georgia for years to come. It is however a new venture that poses some cultural challenges. The short explanation why this partnership is beneficial is that it helps to bring an educated generation to the country who will benefit Georgia’s economy.

Photo by N. Alavidze/

Q. You said the program will help Georgians develop skills the country needs. What skills does Georgia need the most right now?

A. In the modern world, including Georgia, skills and abilities in science, technology, engineering and math are the keys to economic growth. Almost all of the fastest growing occupations depend on STEM skills and abilities.

Currently Georgia has a critical shortage of STEM professionals who have been educated to existing international standards. I know there is a man who is building a Hydro Power Plant in Georgia but cannot find professional engineers who can speak English. And there are lots of similar examples.

To help meet the needs of Georgia’s private and public sectors and foster economic growth, the US Government has invested $30 million and established San Diego State University Georgia. Now the opportunities are growing and we all will contribute to developing STEM skills and abilities among the youth in Georgia.

Q. Why would private sources and businesses contribute such large amounts of money to public universities? And why donate now?

A. This is a cultural part of the change that I am trying to help you understand. There is a reason for this. We are addressing a critical community issue, such as education, healthcare and job preparation. They invest in us to make themselves even better. That investment also makes them better appreciated by members of our broader community. This will benefit corporations in Georgia to associate with this future-looking endeavour that invests in the young people of Georgia.

In general, ours is a knowledge-based economy. Universities are repositories of knowledge. American universities are major economic drivers in our communities. A major portion of the San Diego State University income comes from philanthropy, from private individuals or corporations who invest in our university. Last year they donated almost $1.7 million.

We want to develop the same kind of partnership here in Georgia. An investment in Georgian students is an investment in Georgia’s growth and competitiveness. Georgia’s private sector should donate now to educate and produce Georgia’s top STEM professionals. This way the private sector will contribute to developing a strong workforce in Georgia which they will be able to employ in the future and as a result will create a strong foundation for the future success of the Georgian economy.

In order to encourage these private companies, journalists like you should highlight these companies and let the people know these companies are not just there to make the profit, but they are also there to contribute to bring Georgia into a better place.

These students, Georgia’s future innovators and STEM leaders, are the future of your business.