The Lebanese University in a dire situation whilst private universities prosper and expand

Wed, 07/30/2014

The Lebanese University is in tatters and its future endangered due to its endemic problems and the fact that the ailing Lebanese state has failed its duty to protect and develop its only public university. This is further exacerbated by the competition created by private universities which continue to proliferate and expand both geographically and in the diversity of specialties on offer aided by confessional and political support and protected by a strong and effective “civil” lobby that is capable to influence state decisions. A case in point for civil lobby is the recent refusal of the Syndicate of Pharmacists to endorse the authorization of the Minister of Higher Education allowing the creation of 6 new Pharmacy schools even if run by private universities.

The Lebanese University on the other hand stands with no protector or champion and is in the same league as the public educational system. Indeed, and aside from its staff members, it does not enjoy a “civil” lobby which would deter political interferences and act to press for resolving pending problems.

As a result of its historic neglect, the Lebanese University has now reached a critical situation riddled with corruption and suffering from politician’s greed. Another case in point is the way in which political poles have dealt with the issue of appointments of deans as well as tenure. For instance, during the Cabinet meeting of 3 July 2014, both the PSP and the Phalangist parties blocked the appointment of deans by refusing to endorse any decision because of their feud and dissent over names and confessional affiliations of nominees.

Also to be noted that the Lebanese University is suffering since 2004 from the negative fall backs of a non-functioning Board of Administration because of the freeze on the nomination of Deans and the on-going problem of not integrating the contractual teachers. It is to be noted that contractual teachers constitute 80% of the total faculty body whereas this percentage should not exceed 20%. To be noted also, that some 100 teachers retire every year, while no full-time professors have been recruited instead.

It appears that the diverse problems of the Lebanese University namely the delay in endorsing the new salary scale, the settlement of situation of contractual teachers, and developing the quality of education have become hostage to the continuous political and economic crisis sweeping through Lebanon, which all undoubtedly play in favor of private universities.