Decisions arouse resentment among students, Free Aleppo University refutes

Students’ graduation from the Faculty of Human Medicine at the University of Aleppo in the liberated areas - 21 November 2022 (Facebook)

Students’ graduation from the Faculty of Human Medicine at the University of Aleppo in the liberated areas - 21 November 2022 (Facebook)

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Enab Baladi – Azaz

Deliberative decisions related to tuition, fees, and academic duration have brought the University of Aleppo in the liberated areas back to the media scene recently.

A number of decisions were condemned and met by anger from students who considered them abusive, accusing the university and its administration of having turned into a “profit, not an educational institution.”

The Students’ Office at the university located in the city of Azaz in the northern countryside of Aleppo re-published the decisions, which the university denied and said that it did not adopt what the office published, which caused confusion and left a wave of anger and condemnation among the students.

The decisions

On 13 December, the Student Office published decisions that it said were issued by a university council session, in the presence of the university president, his deputies, deans of faculties, and a representative of the students, to discuss student issues and problems, which stated:

– The work of volunteer teams and student activities within the university is exclusively carried out through the Students Office. 

– Starting in 2023, the annual tuition will be canceled, and the registration mechanism for each subject will be approved individually, and each will have a registration fee, for example in the Faculty of Medicine (general differentiation system), the fee for one subject will be 20 US dollars.

– The law determining the academic period for each academic year has been activated starting from the academic year 2021-2022, and any student who has not passed the previous academic year and does not succeed in the current year is not entitled to register.

– The University of Aleppo’s monthly expenses are 152,000 US dollars, and the university relies 90% on student tuition fees, while in the previous year, it relied on 70% of student tuition fees and the rest from organizations, and teachers are not ready to work full-time for free.

– The exam will be repeated for dental students (who were prevented by the university from exams because they did not pay the tuition fees). Every student who does not pay a quarter of the fees will not have his paper corrected.

– A “Disciplinary Committee” will be formed, to which any student who abuses another student, the university, or teachers, or criticizes in an unjustified chaotic manner, or commits any ethical issue, whether the abuse was issued directly or on social media, will be referred to.

– The official positions of the university students are taken from the Students’ Office. No party outside the university has the right to interfere in the university’s internal affairs. Anyone who claims sympathy for the students of the University of Free Aleppo must present something tangible, far from “incitive” speeches.

The administration entrance of the University of Aleppo in the liberated areas in Azaz city in the northern countryside of Aleppo - 29 November 2022 (Enab Baladi/Dayan Junpaz)

The administration entrance of the University of Aleppo in the liberated areas in Azaz city in the northern countryside of Aleppo – 29 November 2022 (Enab Baladi/Dayan Junpaz)

Anger and accusations

The decisions angered many students who resorted to social media and to the same post published by the Students’ Office to express their resentment. 

Some students considered that the university is “a for-profit institution, and that it imitates the Baath regime (the ruling party in Syria), and that decisions take the form of threats rather than being kind to the situation of students and taking into account their circumstances, and that the Students’ Office is a partner in decisions and not a defender of students’ rights.

Ruba Khalil, a student in the media department, says that the decisions are “unfair” towards the students, especially with regard to canceling the tuition and imposing fees for each subject, as it is a decision that forces students to pay for each subject without taking into account their circumstances.

“Dozens of students whose financial situation does not allow them to pay parts of the tuition, so what if the payment for each subject is compulsory?” Khalil added.

According to the media student, the decisions were shocking to dozens of students, and what caused anger was their publication by the Students’ Office, which is supposed to support students and defend their rights in any problem they face.

Hani al-Barjas, a student at the dentistry faculty, says that most students are against these outputs, criticizing the “gagging of mouths,” which students are feeling little by little, pointing out that the university did not clarify these outputs and contented itself with blaming the Students’ Office for publishing them.

Al-Barjas added to Enab Baladi that those in charge of the decision must be aware of the situation of the students, considering that the clause related to the exhaustion law under “bitter force majeure” circumstances is a law that is not in its proper place and that it is normal for university students and medical students in particular not to succeed in the academic year amid these circumstances, adding that it is not “fair” to dismiss a student from University for failing two years.

Explanation and negation

Hours after publishing the decisions and recommendations and the wave of anger that resulted from them, the Students’ Office published an explanation of what was published of the University Council’s outputs, including several items stating:

– These decisions were issued by the university council and not by the Students’ Office. The Office rejects such decisions and communicates with the university presidency to amend some of them.

– There is no truth to what is rumored about the publication of the outputs with the refusal of the members of the Office, and the policy of the Office was approved to open up with students in any issue, and on this basis, the outputs were published.

– Freedom of opinion and expression is a human right that cannot be taken away, contrary to what some have accused that the Students’ Office supports “gagging mouths.”

– The positions of the Students’ Office in support of the students’ demands are clear and attested. For those who like to see, the archives of the Office’s work are documented and open to every student. When the fee problem occurred with dental students, the Office showed full support for them.

Ahmad al-Daghim, the official of the university’s media office, told Enab Baladi that the university council held its monthly meeting, which it conducts periodically, in the presence of a representative of the students. He denied the university’s relationship with the outputs published by the Student’s Office.

This problem is added to previous confusions and problems at the university, the most recent of which was the prevention of about 25 students from the Faculty of Dentistry from taking their exams on 12 December for not paying the tuition fees.

Dr. Mohammad Khattab, the dean of the dentistry faculty, told Enab Baladi that the tuition fee is in order to continue the educational process, as the university relies 80 to 85% of its funding on student fees and 15 to 20% on support from some organizations.

Khattab pointed out that if the students do not pay the fees, the university will face a financial problem that will harm their studies, the functioning of the university, the success of the educational process, and the work of the teachers in it, and this is what prompts the university to demand payment and put pressure on the students.

Recently, the issue of the media faculty was raised, which is still witnessing some tensions and accusations between its parties, students, and university administration amid students’ demands awaiting a response.


Enab Baladi’s correspondent in Azaz, Dayan Junpaz, contributed to this report.

 

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