University: many drop out due to civil war in Syria, Libya

Colleges close. Dean An-Najah,difficult exchanges in Territories

01 October, 15:07

    (ANSAmed) - ROME, OCTOBER 1 - The civil war in Syria and Libya's collapse have had a strong impact on the academic life of many university students. Many were forced to drop out of college while the luckiest left to continue their studies, said the secretary general of the Association of Arab universities (Aua), Sultan Abu-Orabi.

    ''Many Syrian students fled, leaving behind empty colleges, and are today studying in Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon or Europe'', he told ANSAmed on the sidelines of a two-day round of meetings focusing on neighbourhood policies, mobility and youth training in the Mediterranean at Rome's La Sapienza university.

    The event is organized in cooperation with Unimed (Union of Mediterranean universities), the French embassy and French institute in Italy.

    ''In order to help Syrian youths find a job right after graduation, our association - which includes 208 universities from across the Arab world - has set up a fund'', he said.

    The situation in Libya is also dramatic. ''Currently, the only university that has remained open is Omar al-Mukhtar in Beida (in the North)''. Before the fall of the Gaddafi regime, Libya had 13 universities.

    The situation is instead improving in Egypt, which has over 40 university institutes, at the center of a number of protests since 2011 that turned violent.

    Things are also improving in nearby Jordan, said Abu-Orabi.

    The kingdom has 32 universities (including 22provate institutions) and is also able to attract young European students.

    The situation in the Palestinian Territories is instead critical, as denounced by the dean of the University An-Najah in Naplus, Maher Natsehe. ''The Israeli occupation makes it impossible or useless for any student, Arab or European, to come study here''. Entry visas cannot exceed three months. ''After that deadline, anyone choosing to study in An-Najah must leave the university and then try to get back with a new visa. It's crazy''.

    The university - mostly known for its engineering department and medical school - is however attended by 23,000 students.

    Palestinian students also have a difficult time studying abroad, especially in Arab countries. ''It is often easier to obtain a visa for Europe than for an Arab country'', he added with irony. In most cases, he said, ''cooperation in the region is more virtual than effective''. (ANSAmed)
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