On August 31, 2020, the "True Stories" program of "Obiektivi” TV aired a story titled “Turkish University’s illegal activity in Batumi”. Story touches on LLC Avrasya Batumi International University that was founded in Batumi in 2018. The story claims that the University, which wasn’t authorized by the National Center for Educational Quality Enhancement, operates illegally and accepts students. The story also highlights the fact that the university is a subject of the education system of Turkey and not of Georgia, which is assessed as a threatening influence of Turkey in the Adjara region. The story doesn’t include a response from the official representative of “Avrasya Batumi International University" to suspicions and accusations towards the university. A short interview with one of the university employees without the name or position is utilized as the only argument to prove the university's illegal operation.
Obiektivi, “True Stories”, Miranda Charkhalashvili: “We’re facing the fact that Turkey slowly takes over the economy of the Adjara region. Numerous large units owned by Turkish individuals in the region is proof of that. Albeit, the important fact is that Turkish University, “Avrasya” Batumi International University already operates in Batumi. As we’ve discovered, the educational establishment is a subject of the education system of Turkey and not of Georgia. The webpage of the National Center for Educational Quality Enhancement reads that the university wasn't given the authorization in March 2019, albeit local university employee confirmed the fact that university indeed operates."
The story about Avrasya Batumi International University that aired on “Obiektivi" TV is a half-truth: it is true that the university was not granted the authorization; however, the university hasn’t conducted academic processes before or after they referred to the authorization council. The story airs one-sided and accuses the university of illegal activity without any proof.
According to the regulations posted on the University webpage and the documentation submitted to the National Center for Educational Quality Enhancement, “Avrasya” Batumi International University (ABIU) is an academic establishment that operates for international students, where study process should have been conducted in three undergraduate programs – Architecture, construction and law in English language.
In 2018, upon the establishment of the university, the owner-company "LCC Avrasya Batumi International University” referred to National Center for Educational Quality Enhancement to undergo the authorization process in accordance with the legislation of Georgia. According to the legislation of Georgia on higher education, the educational institution must go through a mandatory authorization process to open and conduct the respective activities. In order to operate in Georgia, the university should meet the authorization conditions in accordance with the country's legislation even if the university is a branch of a foreign educational establishment and is a subject of the education system of a foreign country.
In March 2019, ABIU was rejected the authorization. According to the report of the authorization session, the majority of university personnel didn’t meet skill-requirements for comprehensive communication in English, moreover, syllabuses submitted by the University for various programs did not meet the criteria set by the National Center for Educational Quality Enhancement. For these reasons, the university was rejected the authorization.
In June 2019 ABIU appealed the decision of the authorization council in the appeal council, albeit the appeal was dismissed.
Does illegal educational activity take place in ABIU?
A story aired on "Obiektivi” claiming that ABIU conducts educational activity illegally, without the authorization isn’t true. ABIU hasn’t accepted any students from 2018 to date.
According to a report prepared by a group of authorization experts, the university didn’t have active students in 2018.
In order to verify the information, Myth Detector contacted Natalia Barateli, former head of the University Quality Assurance Service, who confirmed that ABIU didn’t accept any students in 2018-2019. Local media, particularly Batumelebi also has no information regarding the university operating illegally.
Since its’ establishment, ABIU has conducted educational activities only twice - in February and March 2019, albeit not for undergraduate students but university personnel. ABIU held an intensive English language course for university professors from February 1, 2019, whereas also an English language course was held for various target groups from March 1, 2019.
How trust-worthy is the argumentation aired on “Obiektivi”?
A story aired on Obiektivi accusing the university of illegal operation utilizes a short interview with one of the university employees as the only argument. An employee, whose name and position are not mentioned in the story, tells the journalist:
"Currently, as far as I know, they do not have a certificate, they cannot open it officially, that’s why they have no employees, except me and the guard [Journalist: Then how do you operate?] - We pay the fee and I translate. [Journalist: Are there students?] – There aren’t, i.e., students are registered, but there aren’t, it hasn’t been officially opened"
Besides this interview, "Obiektivi" does not air any factual circumstances that prove that there is an illegal educational process in the ABIU.
Prepared by Medea Sulamanidze
Myth Detector Lab