Interviewer: Mr Harutyunyan, we congratulate you on the 25th anniversary of Haybusak University. Having a retrospective view to the previous 25 years, what achievements would you mention, and what do you think about the age of the University which is 25 years old?
Harutyunyan: Thank you for the congratulations. Taking into consideration the leading universities of the world which are hundreds of years old, 25 years is a very short period to speak about the stability of the university. But at the same time taking into account the implementation of the goals which we’ve set within these 25 years and the steps we’ve taken towards the fulfillment of our vision, we should note that huge work has been done and the achievements provide evidence to it. We have managed to stay apart from the Soviet education system, to create an alternative model of higher education system and to get integrated into advanced values of modern universities. Of course, this is a continuous process, and there is still much to do. In terms of achievements, we can state that the first achievement we’ve reached is the establishment of the above mentioned educational model, then – recognition and trust in Armenia and beyond, and afterwards – our highly professional specialists who manage to find their own place in the Republic of Armenia and in other countries. We also give importance to our material acquisitions – two academic campuses which are equipped with all the necessary facilities, as well as the clinic, the modern gym, etc.
Interviewer: Together with your father you took the initiative to establish Haybusak University in a period which was rather heavy and complex for Armenia; why and how was the University established?
Harutyunyan: Since my youth I’ve always rebelled against the Soviet ideology, its education system, policy which was implemented against ideological freedom and the mandatory truths. I have always had an inner conflict for creating an opportunity of free choice in any field, including business. In the period of Armenia’s independence during which free economic relations and private companies were just being formed, I was one of the first to establish a private company. And when my father suggested me to found a non-state higher education institution which would be distinguished by its educational ideology, i.e. free from Soviet ideas and traditions, I embraced that idea and joined him to fulfill our plans. Our goal was to offer an alternative education and to provide the opportunity to Armenian young people to make a free choice. At first few people believed in us but we were sure that the time for the alternative education had come. As time has shown, we are not mistaken; the number of our students is increasing and the geographical border has been expanding year by year. Within a time we were convinced of the truthfulness of our ideas. The more the number of students is, the more investment we make in enhancement of our building facilities, in acquisition of technical equipment and in trainings of teachers.
Interviewer: What conditions does Haybusak University provide to students?
Harutyunyan: I should mention that the efficiency of study programs is an important precondition for education quality assurance but the conditions in which they are implemented are also important. All the classrooms of our University are renovated, furnished and equipped with necessary facilities. It has been 20 years since our base clinic with the departments of Cosmetology and Dentistry together with dental laboratory has been functioning. In our clinic the students get practical knowledge and the best students are also recruited for our professional staff. We are also proud of our teachers who are our graduates. Haybusak University is a beautiful and harmonious family in which everyone feels valued. We treat all our students with respect, listen to their opinions and needs as we care about their personal development and development of their independent thinking. We want our students to be independent and worthy citizens of the Republic of Armenia, to know their rights and to fulfill their responsibilities.
Interviewer: There is a big number of foreign students studying at Haybusak University; how many foreign students are they and what professions do they usually prefer?
Harutyunyan: The vast majority of our students are from different countries and we are happy for that as we consider it to be one of our accomplishments. They bring with them their culture, values, they try to integrate into our society, to learn the Armenian language and culture. We support them in this regard by organizing different informative excursions, lectures about Armenian history and culture. The communication with them is a special practice for our students too.
Currently there are about 400 students from different countries – India, Israel, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Sweden, Belgium, Italy, and also students from the Diaspora who are from the USA, Syria, CIS countries, Javakhk and Artsakh. Foreign students mainly choose medical specialties. This year the University will also have a group of students from India who want to study Psychology; the applications are already submitted. Probably we will also have groups of foreign students who will study Economics and IT. In addition, I’d like to mention that studies are organized in the Armenian, Russian and English languages.
Interviewer: Which professions are most demanded today?
Harutyunyan: Dentistry and Pharmacology are highly demanded today, and the General Medicine is also in stable demand. The interest in the specialties of Management, Economics, Enterprise Management as well as Design, Cloth Modeling and Fine Arts is also increasing.
Interviewer: Haybusak University graduates have big achievements both in Armenia and abroad. What is the key of the success?
Harutyunyan: It is true. I think this states about the fact that we have succeeded in providing such an education to students which is in compliance with international standards for which we’ve been striving for years. In terms of recognition of diplomas, we support our students who want to continue their education or work abroad by providing package of necessary documents in respective language, contacting with the management of the given university or a company and providing necessary information. We are very proud to announce about our University’s students who are able to work in their professional field in developed European countries. There are many examples which state this. I’d like to add that after graduation Haybusak University continues to keep in touch with its graduates due to which they become our best friends who, as specialists in their professional fields, sometimes help us.
Interviewer: Like in any other field, in the sphere of education too it is necessary to apply proper management mechanisms and to take necessary steps in time. As a financial manager and afterwards rector of the University, have you realized such ideas?
Harutyunyan: Yes, I’ve been the author of such ideas. I remember that in the period of Karabakh war, when people lived in heavy social condition, many young people didn’t have the opportunity to get education as they couldn’t afford paying tuition fees. Hence, I offered to provide 30% discount of tuition fees of all the 1st-year students of Haybusak University. At that time the idea of tuition fee discount wasn’t popular in Armenia, and my proposal caused big commotion. Even my family members, my father and Anahit, were against that. But my idea was viable and it is practiced till now. I can surely say that many universities of Armenia have followed our example.
We have improved our discount system; it clearly defines who can get education free of charge and under which conditions discount of tuition fees is provided. Students with high academic performance can benefit from discounts and in separate cases they may be given the opportunity to study fully free of charge. We’ve provided the chance to students from socially vulnerable groups to pay half of tuition fees for years. Having no support from the state or any other organization, we have managed to even provide scholarships to students with high academy performance.
Interviewer: In your opinion, what does the education change in people’s life?
S. Harutyunyan: The education first of all changes one’s world vision, helps him/her to find his/her place in life, gives self-confidence and trust on one’s own power. Knowledge is wealth and a powerful weapon for conquering heights.Interviewer: You grew up in a family of intellectuals and had strict parents. How did you raise your children?
Harutyunyan: I have four children – three daughters and a son. I raised them the way I was raised by my parents, and I tried to transfer our family’s values and traditions, and I think I’ve succeeded. My wife also had her investment in raising them as educated people. I wouldn’t consider myself to be a strict parent although sometimes my strictness towards my son is obvious, and my daughters have never let me scold them. My children are my pride, and I am wealthy and happy to be their father.