How could students improve learning environment at their universities? Why is it still difficult for them to get involved in university governance? What should Georgian universities do in order to implement sustainability in their structure? These were crucial questions discussed during the Youth Forum organised by oikos Tbilisi.
After issuing the report on “Examination of Higher Education Reforms and the Quality of Higher Education in Georgia” last year, oikos Tbilisi has started another big project focused on active involvement of students in university education and governance. In April, oikos members supported by the Open Society Foundation organised the Youth Forum in order to find strategies how to improve the current university education.
The forum brought together 90 different stakeholders: students & student organisations representatives, NGOs as well as academics and administrative staff of universities.
How to create universities, which would support personal development of students and help them to gain the right competences? How could students contribute to the university governance and improve the learning environment? Why is it still difficult for them to get involved in university governance? These were crucial questions discussed during the forum.
Most of the stakeholders claimed that the best strategy how to improve the university environment is establishing respectful student organizations and clubs with different visions and goals. Involvement in student organizations also improves the quality of education as it helps students to gain a different level of knowledge and skills due to organizing and managing various projects. Also, better financial support for student initiatives and more opportunities for collaboration with professors and administrative staff on university reforms are crucial.
Higher education plays an important role in educating students about sustainability. Nowadays universities in developed countries take the responsibility to educate students about environmental issues and support the development of sustainable innovations.
Georgian universities should respond to this trend. During the Youth Forum, oikos Tbilisi directly involved students in identifying the best strategies for advancing the sustainability goals in universities. The Youth Forum participants agreed that Georgian universities need to start expanding environmental research programmes, integrate sustainability issues in the curriculum and implement environmental management in their campuses.
The head-manager of the project Levan Pangani said: “I am proud that we are carrying out such an event which is bound to get productive results. It is another step towards our goal of expanding the awareness and availability of information about sustainability”. As a member of student non-governmental organization you can shape the university life and education.