What is the secret of successful performance for your department?
Interview with Ms Tea Gergedava
Head of the TSU Department of Foreign Relations
TSU Department of Foreign Relations was named the most successful department of the year (2020). The events, international forums or presentations organized by DFR are always unique and interesting not only for the university community but also for those who wish to deepen their knowledge, receive and share the international experience. Tea Gergedava, Head of TSU Department of Foreign Relations, talks about how this success was achieved.
— As it is said, the TSU Department of Foreign Relations is a mediator through which the university is connected to the outside world. Today, TSU has about 300 partner universities, more than 100 exchange programs and more than 20 foreign language programs that is undoubtedly the result of the efficient and fruitful work of your department. Your department was named the most successful department of the year (2020). What is the secret of successful performance for your department and the success of your leadership?
— Tbilisi State University has active cooperation with more than 300 universities and research centres in more than 50 countries. This cooperation includes scientific relations, participation in international projects, as well as sharing experiences, mobility of students and staff, etc. Establishing and maintaining relations on behalf of Tbilisi State University is the main task of our department and our small team is proud to serve this. Obviously, the Covid-19 has been a major challenge for the activities of our department since its outbreak, and in these conditions, it is a great pleasure that our hard work and diligence have not gone unnoticed by our colleagues. I am very proud to have won the title of Best Department of 2020 - this is a great motivation for us.
As for the secret, in my opinion, the formula for success is not a secret - it is the result of knowledge, experience and hard work. Also, if I had to describe my employees and our attitude toward work in one word, that one word would definitely be teamwork. In addition, for me personally, the most important thing is to study for a lifetime and I try to set an example and motivate my employees. Studying, getting acquainted with the practices of foreign universities, studying the experiences of foreign colleagues is the most enjoyable part of my daily life.
— Tbilisi State University has been successfully implementing cooperation and mobility programs funded by the European Commission for decades. The number of funded grants is already hundreds. Tell us about the work done by your department, which led to such results.
— Indeed, Tbilisi State University is a leader in the number of projects funded by the European Commission. In 1995-2020, TSU coordinated and participated in about 50 institutional development projects, 7 Erasmus Mundus consortia, 3 Erasmus Joint Masters and 2 Jean-Monnet projects. In 2015-2020 alone, TSU participated in 259 mobility projects with 106 universities in 26 European countries, and the number of projects submitted with our participation in the last application for Erasmus Plus International Credit Mobility exceeded 140; Among them, 95 projects were funded. This will allow us to allocate hundreds of new scholarships over the next 3 years. This success is obviously not accidental, and there is an intended work of the whole team behind it, which covers the entire cycle of activities from the development of the plan to the successful implementation of the project.
— Against the background of the epidemic situation in the world, how did you manage the activity and what challenges did you face?
— The Covid-19 was undoubtedly a difficult challenge, especially in the early spring of last year. We faced a number of difficulties: communication with our students who were abroad through exchange programs at that time and their parents, solving problems related to international travel of students and return to Georgia, if necessary, organizing medical consultations for students abroad; organizing electronic services for exchange students, their safe return to home countries and many more. All this required action in the shortest possible time and taking into account all possible risks. I think we have dealt with all the major challenges and obstacles with dignity. Considering the specifics of our department, literally, we worked 24 hours a day and we had a special schedule for that, so that, we could have direct contacts with our colleagues without any delay, who are in a different time zone from us. I can’t say, that it was very easy, but as a special intervention, it turned out to be really effective.
— Please, tell us about the future plans of the department. Will new partners join us and in what direction are you going to expand and strengthening cooperation?
— Despite all the difficulties, in 2020 we had acquired 32 new institutional partners; our main activity in 2021 will be the implementation of part of the measures provided by these new agreements, as well as support and strengthen existing partnerships. In addition, we will continue to seek new institutional partners; moreover, last year we started negotiations with several European universities for the implementation of joint academic programs, which will continue this year. In parallel, we will continue actively organizing exchange programs. Despite everything, this year, TSU will receive a high number of European exchange students.
As you know, we organize International Staff Week annually, it’s very popular among our colleagues; last year we received about 150 applications from 20 countries, however, due to the pandemic, unfortunately, we were forced to cancel it. This year, in the late fall, we hope to be able to host the event. Many of our colleagues are already looking forward to visiting Tbilisi.
Prepared by Tamar Dadiani