Bombing, displacement, and high tuition fees deny Idlib University students Turkish scholarships
Enab Baladi – Idlib
In a statement on its official website, Idlib University, in coordination with the Scholarships Directorate, announced the decision to send students to Turkish universities. The students will benefit from a scholarship to prepare for and obtain masters or doctoral degrees for the academic year 2019-2020.
According to the statement, the student will benefit from the scholarships according to several conditions, the most prominent of which is that the beneficiary should be a holder of a bachelor’s or a master’s degree from Idlib University, which some students considered as a promising step toward recognition of the university.
Many students believe that joining this scholarship program is hard, due to obstacles and circumstances related to the university, most notably the high tuition fees, and the constant bombing that prevents the completion of the educational process.
High tuition payments
The registration fee for two semesters at Idlib University is $ 150 for literary branches, while students of practical departments pay $ 200, and students of the parallel education division pay $ 400. These fees paid by students cover about 50 percent of the university’s tuition fees only, according to the university’s official website.
Many students see the tuition payments as a financial burden that they cannot afford after the depreciation of the Syrian pound against the dollar, as the income is low in the opposition-controlled areas compared to the education costs. According to Hassan al-Ahmad, a student at the Faculty of Medicine at Idlib University, students can bear the costs of transportation and university books. Still, they cannot afford to pay the tuition.
Al-Ahmad told Enab Baladi that although the quarterly exams have started and then were postponed, some students were unable to pay their tuition. As a result, the university administration allowed them to take the exam while withholding their marks.
He pointed out that many students search for scholarships to help them complete their studies. Therefore there were many volunteer teams at the university collecting donations to cover the tuitions for some students, who were unable to pay, such as the Neurons and Aspirin teams, which were established in the Faculties of Medicine and Pharmacy.
The Council of Higher Education issued a decision on 18 December 2019, to divide the tuition fees into four installments, i.e. two payments per semester. According to the decision, the student pays the first installment at the beginning of the semester and the second one before the start of practical exams.
About 15, 000 male and female students are studying for the current academic year at the University of Idlib, which was founded in 2015, while the number of teaching staff for the master’s and doctoral degrees and the administrative staff is respectively 250 and 170, according to the official website of the university.
Bombing affects the educational process
The damage of the recent military campaign launched by the Syrian regime, backed by the Russian forces, on the cities and rural areas of Idlib was not limited to causing civilian deaths and destroying residential and medical facilities, as the higher and the secondary education in the city was also affected. As such, with the increase of the shelling frequency and the intensity of displacement waves to escape death in the villages and towns of the southern countryside of Idlib, the University of Idlib suspended the exams for a week, starting from 27 January, while the administrative work continued.
The suspension of exams, which coincided with intense bombings, was demanded by the university students, as the security conditions got worse and the roads were cut off. Hence, first-year students in the English Literature department at the Faculty of Arts and Humanities announced boycotting the exams through Facebook groups representing Idlib University students.
The announcement coincided with demands raised by other students in different colleges to postpone the exams in solidarity with their fellow displaced peers in the city.
The students of Idlib University are also concerned about the regime forces’ progress on the ground and seizure of the whole city, which will cause them to drop out of university and lose their official and academic papers. Accordingly, al-Hassan called on the concerned authorities to build an archive outside Syria, to preserve the students’ information and documents so that they can refer to when necessary.
University students are victims of bombing and displacement
The biggest obstacle facing the students, who aspire to join the scholarship program, is the risk of dropping out of school. At the same time, civilians continue to be the target of military operations.
The latest military campaign on Idlib has left 131 civilians dead, including 41 children, according to what the Response Coordination Team documented until 31 January. Among the victims were four students at the faculties of electrical engineering, medicine, dentistry and literature at the Idlib University.
The offensive also caused many students to abandon their studies, either because of migration and forced displacement or due to closure of roads and the difficulty of reaching the university. For instance, the first-year student in the Faculty of Arts, Rasha Salat, told Enab Baladi that she was forced to move with her child from Binnish to the Turkish border in search of safety.
Rasha believed that the situation in her area has become “tragic” and cost her to drop out of university, noting that all the residents of Idlib need to be protected from the bombing and the killing. They first need to find a shelter from the cold of winter, while the university studies can be carried on later.
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