Early in 2011, Iyad Awad’s graduation from the (open education) Faculty of Agricultural Engineering at “al-Baath University, Homs, was hindered by a single subject, to be one of the graduates of the first batch of the “Free Aleppo” University graduates years later, one of 624 students who graduated with bachelor’s degree in different fields, medicine, engineering and literary branches.
Iyad, the son of the village of Zardana, rural Idlib, says that he has not been able to complete his university studies since 2011 due to the security and military conditions that Syria experienced at the time. He joined a special session at the University of Aleppo offered in the town of Mar’ayan in Aleppo. He managed to participate after contacting professor Osama Raadoon and was able to do the exams relating to the remaining subject, similar to the one required by the Open Education program offered by the Syrian universities.
“Free Aleppo” University was launched in the opposition-held areas at the beginning of the 2015-2016 academic year. It is the first official university in Syria to operate under the supervision of the Ministry of Higher Education of the “Syrian Interim Government”.
Its colleges, institutes and departments were established in various areas under the opposition: Aleppo, Idlib, rural Damascus, Homs, Lattakia, in addition to its institutes in Lebanon and an exam center in Turkey.
Early in July, the University celebrated the graduation of the first patch of the students who enrolled for the special session, allocated for university students in the city of Azaz, the northern countryside of Aleppo.
The graduation ceremony was attended by the Head of the Interim Government Jawad Abu Hatab, the directors of local councils and several military, medical and educational entities.
The Vice President of the University, Diaa al-Qallash, refers to several faculties and fields of study, including the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Engineering, such as Informatics, Electrical, Mechatronic and Agricultural Engineering, as well as the Faculty of Economics, Law and Political Sciences.
He also told Enab Baladi that 28 students are currently enrolled for the university’s master’s program, and 10 others have registered to have a PhD.
The number of the students who graduated under the first batch is 294 students, who joined the regular semester, and 330 students who enrolled for the special session, in addition to two postgraduate students, who graduated from the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and the Faculty of Science, the Department of Mathematics.
According to Iyad, the education he received at the University of Aleppo is similar to what was adopted at Syrian universities. He says that his admittance to Aleppo University was conditioned; he had to obtain a grade report from “Al-Baath University” and was forced to pay $300 to get it.
He added that the Interim Government and several organizations have promised to offer the graduates scholarships for the rest of the semesters and that Abu Hatab, in his speech, has stressed that the Government is communicating with the Turkish government as to attain an official recognition of the University in Turkey and other countries.
Students in the opposition-held areas receive unrecognized degrees from the universities of Aleppo and Idlib, other private universities and intermediate institutes, because the problem of recognition of diplomas has not been resolved since the formation of the Interim Government about six years ago.