Interviewer: First of all, congratulations for the 25th anniversary of Haybusak University and for the difficult path you went through those years with honesty and full of achievements. We wish you bigger victories in the future.
Harutyunyan: Thank you for your congratulations and wishes. These 25 years have been really hard time for us, we overcame challenges under lots of objective and subjective circumstances due to which we got experience, flexibility in hard situations, indestructible will and ability to make right decisions.
Interviewer: 25 years is a rather mature age for human being, and what can you say about it for the University? What is the biggest achievement of Haybusak University?
Harutyunyan: The best universities of the world are hundreds of years old, and the “oldest” one is 900 years old. If we set the age as a criterion of maturity of the University, Haybusak University is quite a young higher education institution. But if we view the age from the perspective of development of the educational system of independent Armenia and the period of investment of the private university system in Armenia, 25 years is a significant age, especially taking into account the fact that today Haybusak University is the biggest non-state university in Armenia which has been continuously developing over the years, has gained trust and recognition not only in Armenia but also beyond it.
It is not by chance that currently we have a big number of students from different countries of the world and from the Diaspora. During these 25 years we have always strived to continuously improve the quality of education by investing practice and teaching methods of European universities. Of course, there is still a lot to do, but our achievements in the sphere of education quality are also visible. One of our greatest achievements is the success of our graduates who are able to present themselves as high-quality professionals not only in Armenia but also abroad. And I think our biggest achievement is the trust of people which we’ve gained through years due to our great efforts.
Interviewer: This year you’ll celebrate the 10th anniversary of the International Academy of Education. What important role did the establishment of the Academy have?
Harutyunyan: In 1999, within the framework of the program of enlarging private universities, a number of universities joined Haybusak University, the International Academy of Education (IAE) was founded which at first merely had a uniting role, i.e. it organized and coordinated the activities to ensure the efficiency and to make the University life more harmonious. By this, we mean the joint activities carried out by teachers, students and Scientific Councils of the 6 universities which were functioning under the IAE. However, the universities which were united to Haybusak University began to function in the structure of our University, and it seemed that the role of the IAE would supposedly become less significant, but it was vice versa as far as it already had some inner potential in terms of ensuring quality of education, conduction of scientific research activities and fulfillment of controlling function which we give much importance to. And today the IAE still continues to function successfully and fosters the enhancement and development of education quality.
Interviewer: The assurance of high quality of higher education and preparation of competitive specialists are among important issues in education. In this regard, what kind of problems in Armenia can you mention?
Harutyunyan: In order to ensure development of the sphere, it should be supported by the state, however, our country is in the initial phase of getting integrated into the international educational processes and from this perspective it has yet much to do. The modern world requires specialists who are devoted to their work, are high-quality and continuously develop their skills. The specialist who has graduated from a high education institution should be competitive not only in his/her country but also abroad. We shouldn’t forget that in the 21st century everybody is free to choose his/her place of living and work, however, he/she should be a good specialist and have such a diploma which will be recognizable in European and other countries. These are the main principles which we followed 25 years ago.
Interviewer: Mrs Harutyunyan, today Haybusak University is involved in the international accreditation process, and your University is again one of the higher education institutions which immediately responded this opportunity, and currently it undergoes the second phase. What will this process give to Armenian higher education institutions?
Harutyunyan: Our University was indeed one of the first higher education institutions which responded and was involved in this program as far as our mission has always been the adoption of international educational values and assurance of our University’s recognition. So, I should say that in this context we have had many achievements. The implementation of this program is another step forward to achieve our goals. I must mention that in our country the process of international accreditation launched four years ago. The main goal of the program is to get integrated into the European education area. It will give the opportunity to make the diplomas provided by Armenian universities recognizable at international level, to ensure compatibility of professional study programs, as well as to implement exchange of students and teachers. For us, the key point in this process is the opportunity of exchange of teachers and students. Of course, here we also face with financial issues but in this regard we are in a beneficial position as we already have many European and international grants.
Interviewer: Mrs Harutyunyan, you mention with confidence about the quality of education provided by the University, preparation of competitive specialists and skillfulness of teaching staff. What activities are taken towards enhancement of professional qualities of teachers?
Harutyunyan: We have been ensuring teacher training for years by paying much attention to the English proficiency of teachers due to which they can teach in English to foreign students. About 70 percent of our teaching staff know English, and 35 percent teach in English. Haybusak University is one of the unique higher education institutions of the Republic of Armenia the teachers of which teach in Armenian, English and Russian languages.
Interviewer: The decision to open specialties in Medicine after the Medical University is highly risky and a brave step. How did you decide to take that step?
Harutyunyan: The founders of the University, including me, have clearly visualized the possible difficulties which could arise in terms of establishing a medical faculty. However, we consciously didn’t avoid that idea as far as we are sure that it is necessary to have alternative education. In our Faculty of Medicine the departments of Phytotherapy and Medical Cosmetology were first opened which, as such, functioned only in our University. Besides new medical specialties, other new departments were also established in Haybusak University which, again, were firstly invested here. By this, I mean the specialties of Agribusiness, Food Technology, Technology of Wine Making and other alcoholic beverages, Bakery Technology, Perfume Technology.
Interviewer: What is the current vision of Haybusak University?
Harutyunyan: In regard to assurance the compliance of education quality with the international level, we aim to fund (with our own financial resources) some key specialties of the 21th century and within the scope of funding to provide our talented youth the opportunity to study free of charge.
Interviewer: Haybusak University also actively participates in different educational expos and contests. What accomplishments have you had in them?
Harutyunyan: Indeed, our University life is very active, the students and other representatives of our University take part in different events. It is not accidental that two of our students have been awarded the RA President’s prize. I should also mention that especially in the Diaspora and abroad the recognition of our University is also conditioned by our active participation in different expos and contests. By the way, we’ve been the only representative from Armenia who has participated in them, and we’ve aroused interest not only towards Haybusak University but also our country.
In 2002, when we were participating in an educational exhibition in Lebanon, a remarkable case happened. A Lebanese media journalist approached me, asked questions, and I answered them. The next day of the exhibition the interview was published, and I was told that the wife of the Lebanese president, Andrea Lahoud, was interested in the Armenian representatives and would like to meet them. Her wish was conditioned by the fact that both the President and the First Lady were half Armenians. A. Lahoud was interested in the activity of Haybusak University and she suggested to organize some courses in Lebanon, including Armenian courses for Armenian young students of Lebanon, and expressed her wish to provide financial aid for that. The local Armenian community representatives also expressed their readiness to support but unfortunately it did not happen as far as the war began in Lebanon.
Interviewer: Today Armenia is also at war. Will the University take any initiative to support the families of servicemen?
Harutyunyan: Let me tell you something surprising; the war has never ended for us, the children of freedom fighters who were students of Haybusak University always studied for free (about 400 graduates), we have always supported our students preparing for conscription, provided them with discounts so that they could join the army in peace. In the period of exacerbation of the Karabakh-Azerbaijani conflict we had two victims. The irrevocable loss of every young victim is a deep pain for us, and we try to be with the families of our fallen students.
Interviewer: Mrs Harutyunyan, perhaps you agree that no matter how rich the education makes the person with its high values and makes him/her be the bearer and disseminator of those values, the genetic inheritance and upbringing are sometimes much stronger. You are from a family of a scientist, and you’ve always hosted representatives of the intellectual community, and I am sure that communication with them has also raised you up. Have you managed to pass those values to your children?
Harutyunyan: My children as well as those of Anna and Suren grew up in an atmosphere of constant communication with our parents. Our paternal home is also the home of our children, and we have passed all the values we have adopted to our children too. I should state that not only my children, but also those of my brother and sister are the bearers of our family’s traditions and values.
Interviewer: In one of the interviews you’ve mentioned that you are not a careerist. Do you think it is possible to reach such accomplishments not being a careerist as far as you don’t just take a position but constantly work on self-development, study achievements in the spheres of education and science as well as take measures to invest them in the development of education?
Harutyunyan: It’s true, I am not a careerist, otherwise I would hold a state position (she smiles). I love my job and I do it every day with love. It’s a great joy when you see how teenager graduates from the university and becomes a specialist. I meet our graduates everywhere and I am so proud of their achievements. Of course, my work requires continuous studies of all aspects and everlasting changes in the constantly developing world. I have always treated and treat my job and position as a responsibility that I take on with great love. Perhaps this is the reason why I work in non-working days and hours. I don’t consider my work as a career, and the achievements are the results of love and devotion. I believe that when there is unconditional love and devotion towards your work, it will be a success. Sometimes, in order to succeed, one must not only overcome lots of difficulties by following the existing rules, but also create own rules.
Interviewer: What does the education change in one’s life?
Harutyunyan: In my opinion, the most important function of education is to convey a coordinated complexity of knowledge and skills due to which the person will become a good specialist and will be useful for the society. Education gives a person spiritual, ideological boundless freedom, great opportunities for development and progress, helps to discover the best in oneself, to form a value system and to find the place of one’s own self in life. And finally, knowledge is the wealth which cannot be taken away from anyone.
Interviewer: You have mentioned that you find all the answers to your questions in faith, however, I would like to ask if there are any unanswered questions.
Harutyunyan: There are unanswered questions, and in this regard I rely on God. I have been convinced for a long time that the most important mission of a person is to find his/her own place and significance in life. In that case the person is happy and lives a full and harmonious life.
Interviewer: What place does beauty take in your life? What are the most beautiful things in your life, and what doors can be opened in front of a beautiful woman like you?
Harutyunyan: For me, the world created by God, i.e. nature, is beautiful. I never stop admiring its perfection. I admire beautiful people, their inner and outer beauty, beautiful words, deeds, feats. I should mention that beautiful features are not enough for me to consider someone a beautiful person; inner beauty is more important. One’s beautiful inner world can beautify his/her unattractive features, but the opposite is not possible. Thank you for considering me a beautiful woman, and in terms of “opening doors”, they are mainly open due to intelligence and kindness. In any case, my experience proves it.