Profile: Alexi Gugushvili
Alexi Gugushvili, MSc in Policy Studies 2006-07, now studying for a PhD at European University Institute, Florence
What were you doing before you applied to the MSc in Policy Studies?
Before applying to the programme I received my degree in Economics from the Tbilisi State University [Georgia] and then worked as a chief specialist at the Economic Policy Agency of Tbilisi City Hall. Basically, I was involved in the design of socioeconomic development programmes and in the Project of localising the Millennium Development Goals in Tbilisi.
Why did you apply to the programme?
After the practical engagement in socioeconomic policymaking, I began to realise that for my further professional development I had to complete a master’s degree in policy analysis which would have strong emphasis on social and pro-poor policymaking. Having several options among the leading European and US universities, I preferred to go for the MSc in Policy Studies at the University of Edinburgh which elegantly incorporated the key courses on public policy and, in addition, according to the students’ interests allows a focus on various areas of social policy including the employment, the pension and the family policies.
What are your best memories from your time studying here?
The year spent in Edinburgh undoubtedly was one of the best in my life because I managed well to find a balance between the academic and the personal aspects of studying. From the academic point of view, the workload was substantial and challenging, though personal determination and unrestricted support from the tutors and the programme director helped me to overcome these challenges and successfully complete the programme. On the personal level, the most exciting experience was the extremely diverse student body stemming from all parts of the world and creating outstanding international cultural and intellectual community. As a result now I have friends in almost all parts of the earth.
What are you doing now? Did the degree help you to get where you are?
Definitely, this MSc degree was decisive for my career advancement. Straight after the graduation, it allowed me to conduct research at the London School of Economics and Political Science, to obtain a placement at the Department for Work and Pensions and to be involved in the Adam Smith International’s Civil Society and Public Policy Reform Project financed by the UK Department for International Development. Currently, I am coordinating the Working Group on State Budget Transparency in Georgia which includes various Civil Society Organisations and tries to increase the awareness and citizen’s participation in the budget formation process. On the public policy issues I am also assisting the grantee organisations which try to amend and influence the government’s policies on mental health, disasters forecasting and civil participation issues.
What's it like being a student in Edinburgh?
Due to its outstanding academic reputation, prominent staff and the location in a vibrant capital of Scotland, personally for me being a student of the University of Edinburgh was the unforgettable experience which I will be proud of throughout my career. I felt like a member of one of the few universities in the world, where the modern academic excellence and the intellectual traditions of enlightenment overlap. At the same time, the flexibility of the University gave me an opportunity to realise fully my needs, abilities and interests. Being a student here is not a story about the University, it is your story within the University.
Image: Milling around at Graduation, Bristo Square, Edinburgh. © Andy Aitchison 2007.