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Journal Articles European Journal of Education Year : 2022

A case of post‐Soviet dissidence: Georgia's free doctorate


After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the universities of the former Soviet states faced a lack of public funding that left them with tuition fees as their main—and sometimes only—source of revenue. In a context where universities were exclusively focused on their economic survival, the decision of Ilia State University (ISU) to introduce in 2008 a tuition-free doctoral programme in Georgia was thus a striking exception. This free PhD programme still exists and more than a decade later, its rationale and hence, the question of whether its objectives have been achieved, remain controversial. The purpose of this article is to clarify these two aspects, using the perspective of stakeholders as primary data. Our findings challenge the dominant consensus on free higher education, in the sense that they show that the motives behind tuition-free programmes may be more diverse and ambiguous than what the literature suggests. Therefore, they also question the relevance of a standard analytical framework to assess the performance of such programmes. Thus, although local and limited in scope, our study offers directions from various disciplinary perspectives for further analyses of the drivers and results of free education.


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hal-03647360 , version 1 (20-04-2022)



Tamar Bregvadze, Karim Medjad. A case of post‐Soviet dissidence: Georgia's free doctorate. European Journal of Education, In press, ⟨10.1111/ejed.12503⟩. ⟨hal-03647360⟩
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