Research Questions

  1. How was the partnership established and carried out? How did it change over time?
  2. Were the activities implemented through the project aligned with the program design, as documented in the logic model?
  3. How do SDSU and comparison group students view their programs?
  4. To what extent are the project activities sustainable?

More than ever, nations around the world understand that science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) skills are key to driving economic growth and overall competitiveness. On July 26, 2013, the United States, through the Millennium Challenge Corporation, signed a five-year, $140-million compact with the Government of Georgia (GoG) to develop human capital, advance economic growth, and reduce poverty in the country. The Georgia II STEM Higher Education Project is one part of this compact. It involves an investment of $30 million from the United States and additional funds from Georgia aimed at improving the quality of Georgian university education in STEM fields. The GoG established the Millennium Challenge Account - Georgia to direct all implementation under the compact.

San Diego State University (SDSU) partnered with three Georgian public universities — Tbilisi State University, Georgian Technical University, and Ilia State University — to fulfill these goals. SDSU offers its U.S. bachelor's degrees, taught in English, in facilities of the three partner universities.

The authors of this interim report examine (1) the development of the partnership, (2) implementation of SDSU program, (3) perceived effectiveness of the program, and (4) partnership sustainability into the future. The final report, expected in 2023, will reexamine these four areas and (5) student outcomes and (6) post-compact economic rate of return.

Additional resources for this report are available on the Millennium Challenge Corporation website (data.mcc.gov).

Key Findings

Establishing, organizing, and supporting partnerships was challenging, but partnerships improved over time

  • The activities related to the delivery of curriculum, faculty training, and building capacity were implemented jointly between SDSU and the three Georgian public universities.
  • The partnerships tended to be between SDSU and individual institutions instead of a single group ready to address common issues and goals.

Program implementation had both successes and challenges

  • At the beginning of the initiative, there was a significant struggle to enroll the planned number of students.
  • The compact funds were used to renovate the facilities at the three partner universities.
  • SDSU also built the capacity of Georgian faculty by providing them with extensive professional development and classroom experience in the SDSU program.
  • SDSU supported the partner universities as they prepared their STEM programs for international accreditation.

SDSU student experiences show satisfaction with facilities but less with coursework and faculty support

  • The majority of SDSU-Georgia students were highly satisfied with the facilities and equipment provided by the SDSU program but were less satisfied with some aspects of the program.
  • Women and men generally had similar views of their programs, but women were less satisfied with opportunities for internships and job placement.

The partnership may be sustainable in ways beyond the program

  • All partners are interested in sustaining STEM programs and their relationships after the compact closes.
  • SDSU is considering a program that would allow students to earn an SDSU degree in the future through SDSU online as a supplement to their partner university accredited degree.

Recommendations

  • Continue to invest in training Georgian faculty.
  • Encourage STEM employment opportunities for women.
  • Promote buy-in and support for international accreditation.
  • Revise government policies to sustain internationally accredited programs.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One

    Introduction and Background

  • Chapter Two

    Overview of the Georgia II STEM Higher Education Project

  • Chapter Three

    Evaluation Design

  • Chapter Four

    Establishing, Organizing, and Supporting Partnerships

  • Chapter Five

    Implementing the Program and Overcoming Challenges

  • Chapter Six

    Student Experiences in SDSU Georgia and Comparison Group Programs: Affordability, Employment Status, Perceived Quality, and Future Plans

  • Chapter Seven

    Initial Sustainability Analysis

  • Chapter Eight

    Conclusion

  • Appendix A

    Photographs of Tbilisi Campus Facilities

  • Appendix B

    Data Collection Summary and Timeline

  • Appendix C

    Survey Completion, Tracer Study Balance, and Power Estimates

  • Appendix D

    Study Administrative Information

  • Appendix E

    Additional Figures

  • Appendix F

    Stakeholder Comments and Responses

Research conducted by

This study was sponsored by the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) and conducted by RAND Education and Labor.

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