Sat 20 Jul 2019

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Decisions increasing fears of failure among students in University of Damascus

Faculty of Education, University of Damascus 2016 (Administrative Department at Faculty of Education, University of Damascus)

Faculty of Education, University of Damascus 2016 (Administrative Department at Faculty of Education, University of Damascus)

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The chances of success of the students studying different disciplines in the University of Damascus have become limited due to the decisions of the Ministry of Higher Education, which they described as “unjust”. The Ministry has recently decided to reduce the period of time dedicated for exams after cancelling the supplementary session.

Two weeks ago, Minister of Higher Education, Mohammad Amer al-Mardini, decided that university exams session will start from 15 January until the beginning of February, thus reducing it to half of what it used to be before.

The minister explained that there are two types of exams, the automated and the traditional. He pointed out that the quality of examinations conforms to the quality of higher education.

Indicators suggesting failure

The period, which has been suddenly determined following the ministerial decision, has put the students in a dilemma, condemning their educational process and threatening them with failure because of the short period dedicated for revision and for exams. Students described this decision as “unfair”, especially after issuing similar decisions during the previous year, mainly cancelling the supplementary session.

“The date set for the exams to begin does not allow enough and good revision, for we just finished the practical exam on 26 December and lectures stopped at the beginning of January. Therefore, we had only a 15-day break, “said Sara, a student at the Faculty of Pharmacy during an interview with Enab Baladi.

“I have to train at a pharmacy because the course is not enough. The doctor teaching the subject does not help the students because the questions are difficult and unusual,” she says. The student stated that she is suffering psychologically and expects to fail most of the subjects due to the lack of time.

The case of Khalid, a student at the Faculty of Arabic Language, is similar to Sarah with only one slight difference in discipline.  He told Enab Baladi that “most of the subjects need to be memorized. Unfortunately, we cannot cover all of them because of the short notice, owing to the fact that I did not skip any lecture. I believe that the minister of higher education is trying to get us one way or another.”

In August, the Ministry of Higher Education cancelled the supplementary session at the Syrian universities for the academic year 2018-2019. “These decisions were taken following exceptional circumstances. Today, the basic rules and the basic education system shall be implemented. Therefore, there is no supplementary session for this year,” declared the ministry during a statement.

Who is responsible for Universities’ roll back?

The quality of education provided by Syrian universities has dropped during the years of the war, according to statements of the director of the media office at the University of Damascus, Mohammed al-Omr.

The decrees concerning those who managed to move from one level to another thanks to administrative decision, special session, and exemptions of those who constantly fail, also affected the value of the Syrian certificate.

The new decisions made the exam period for six or seven materials, equivalent to that of secondary and preparatory stages. It used to last between 30 to 40 days before, following the different disciplines at the university.

The Syrian universities have witnessed a significant roll back in the world ranking index, by 4000 degrees, in July 2018. The University of Damascus was ranked 10902 worldwide and seventh in Syria as opposed to the 2018 classification issued in January, where the university was ranked first in Syria and 3646 globally.

This is due to several considerations, the most important of which is that the University of Damascus includes all the specialties and disciplines, making it difficult for it to demonstrate its efficiency in all branches, while the rest of the Syrian universities teach a limited number of disciplines.

The decline of the classification of Syrian universities is due to the decline in means allocated for higher education and scientific research in Syrian universities. This factor plays a major role in the classification of universities. The global index often takes into consideration the importance of scientific research issued by universities around the world. These research papers contribute into the up warding the ranking of the university.

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