Regulations enacted by the Georgian government against Indian students are again discriminatory and contain signs of corruption as well.
Indian students studying at Georgian universities have not been able to return to Georgia from India for months. The restrictions for the prevention of the spread of coronavirus that is imposed on Indian students coming to Georgia are still disproportionate, unreasonable, and discriminatory.
On April 15, 2021, the Inter-Agency Coordination Council of the Government created for the management of pandemic-related issues made a decision and initiated a restriction that incoming students from the Republic of India must enter Georgia by charter flights only. However, after April 15, 2021, there was no single charter flight carried out from India to Georgia.
In September 2021, regarding the resumption of studies at universities, students in India were informed that they would now be able to return to Georgia through a specially organized charter flight. As a result of coordination of the Georgian and Indian governments, the charter flight will be operated exclusively by the airline company “GLOBENGEL.” The cost of the travel for students is 28,000 INR, which is equivalent to 380 USD.
Apart from this, foreign students coming from the Republic of India are subject to a 14-day mandatory quarantine, despite having completed a full course of vaccination prior to their visit to Georgia and submitting a negative PCR test in the last 72 hours. It is noteworthy that the representative of any other country is not subject to such mandatory quarantine, in case of submission of a document confirming the full dose of vaccination.
In addition, the university has selected specific covid hotels operating in Tbilisi (Just Inn, Tbilisi Inn, Apart Hotel) in which students will have to stay in mandatory quarantine. The total cost of a double room in a hotel is 600 USD, and a single room is 800 USD. Students are required to cover these expenses by themselves.
Restrictions of April 15 imposed by the Government of Georgia on persons arriving from India are unjustified, disproportionate, and, consequently, discriminatory. A public statement on the matter was already published by TDI on April 15. It is unclear what legitimate purpose the regulation found in Government Resolution N322 serves regarding the obligation for students to enter Georgia necessarily by charter flight, and why it has not been repealed so far. The scheme related to charter flights and covid hotels could even contain alleged corruption signs.
At the same time, being negligent of the fact that students can enter Georgia by charter flight only, and so far no charter flight has been implemented, in some cases, Georgian universities require Indian students to physically appear at university premises. This even happens when distance learning is allowed. In some cases, students were endangered to suspend their active student status unless they were physically present at the university to sign the documents. Such conditions were imposed by Batumi State Shota Rustaveli University, and New Vision University still requires Indian students to physically attend the practical components of the learning process, otherwise, they will not be able to continue their studies.
It is noteworthy that the students are already under severe financial pressure. Even under the worst circumstances caused by the global pandemic, they are actually forced to buy a charter flight ticket at a specific fixed price and then be subjected to a 14-day mandatory quarantine at expensive hotels at their own costs.
We call on the Government of Georgia,
- Remove the restrictions on charter flights for the return of Indian students to Georgia, and allow them to arrive in Georgia through regular flights;
- Abolish regulations regarding mandatory 14-day quarantine for students from India, which carry the discriminatory character.