The International School of Economics at Tbilisi State University (ISET) was created in response to a letter in 2005 from Georgian Prime Minister Zurab Zhvania - just three weeks before his tragic death - to the World Bank President James Wolfensohn, in which he appealed for help in "creating our own capability to train young economists in modern economics as it is taught all over the world and to conduct economics research here in Georgia."

Initial input from the World Bank and ongoing support from the Government of Georgia, the Government of Germany, and Tbilisi State University, in cooperation with an international group of donors including BP, the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Open Society Institute Higher Education Support Program, and the Swedish International Development Agency (Sida), have made Zhvania's dream a reality. ISET opened its doors to students in 2006 to offer the first world class Master's Program in Economics in the South Caucasus.