Students end protest at TSU

Students demanded a systemic reform of Tbilisi State University. Photo by Tbilisi State University., 17 Mar 2016 - 13:27, Tbilisi,Georgia

After a week of student unrest at Tbilisi Ivane Javakhishvili State University (TSU) in Georgia’s capital, peace has returned to the learning institution after opposing student groups agreed to a deal. 

The two rival groups of students reached a consensus yesterday about the need of a systemic reform of TSU. Both parties appealed to the Government to carry out a complete reform and remove the Ministry of Internal Affairs ‘spies’ from the education institution. 

In order for a deal to be reached, the students demanded the University leadership and the Ministry of Education sign a special agreement in the coming days about a "long-lasting cooperation” in the reform process. 

If the Government failed to begin genuine efforts to address problematic issues at the University by April 16 this year, the students threated they would carry out major demonstrations. 

Students voiced their conditions for the peace deal to the Government. Photo by Tbilisi State University. 

Georgia’s Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili welcomed the students’ solution earlier today and promised the students played a crucial role in reforming the country’s higher education system.

I am very glad our students chose a peaceful form of negotiations. The view of each student is of utmost importance for the Government,” Kvirikashvili said. 
Reforming the higher education system is one of our top priorities and we are eager to carry out a systemic reform in this direction. To the best of our abilities we will involve students in the reform process,” he added. 

Kvirikashvili had twice made special statements about the developing unrest at TSU - the country’s first university.

The conflict started about a week ago when one group of students who called themselves Auditorium 115, protested against the only proposed candidate for the post of University Chancellor. The students said candidate Giorgi Gaprindashvili was unfit for the post due to his past actions and his eager cooperation with a Ministry of Internal Affairs ‘spy’ at TSU.

Gaprindashvili, who previously served in the TSU Student’s Government (Tvitmmartveloba), dismissed Auditorium 115’s accusations about misspending Tvitmmartveloba funds, abuse of students and cooperating with the Interior Ministry representative. 

Shortly after the conflict began PM Kvirikashvili appealed to Gaprindashvili to remove his nomination so peace could be restored at the University. Initially Gaprindashvili resisted but on March 14 he announced he had removed his name from the race.

Minister of Education of Georgia Tamar Sanikidze met TSU leadership. Photo by Tbilisi State University. 

This however triggered a protest within another group of students, mainly united in Tvitmmartveloba, who supported Gaprindashvili. Tvitmmartveloba demanded the resignation of University Rector Vladimer Papava, and accused him of opposing Gaprindashvili’s candidacy for University Chancellor. 

Meanwhile to counter this, the initial protesting students within Auditorium 115 and the majority of lecturers did not agree Papava should resign.

Papava confirmed he would not step down.

After more than a week of protests, counter-protests and accusations from both protesting sides, the opposing students came to an agreement yesterday.