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Every year, a lot of serious issues are raised regarding the Lebanese University. Most of them – if not all – are related to political interferences. In fact, it has been like forever since politicians took the prerogatives of the university board. Since then, no nomination has been possible without politicians meddling in. The failure of the government to upgrade 574 contract professors into permanent ones has urged the head of the university, Dr Adnan Sayyed Hussein, to call for a strike in an attempt to regain the academic prerogatives and protect the Lebanese University against any political interference. The problem regarding the appointment of full professors proves that there is a clash of interests between politics and academics.

I am not going to investigate if the 574 contract professors are worth being upgraded or not. Much was said (especially in Assafir newspaper which reported many “fishy” situations regarding the “academic” list and the “political” list). I am going to remind each one of us about the importance of the institution that has been the victim of many administrative and political abuses. The Lebanese University, sole public institution for higher education, counts around 75 000 students in its 6 sections. Most of them cannot afford the extravagant tuition fees of the private universities that are estimated by hundreds in Lebanon, and aren't monitored by the government – which eventually leads to huge raises every year (For a recent matter, check AUB and LAU’s tuition fees raises that led to students’ strikes). So for 75 000 students coming from everywhere, the Lebanese University is a chance: if the Lebanese University didn't exist, they wouldn't be able to get a chance to be admitted in a higher education institution. Or, they would spend their lives paying off extravagant mortgages cumulated through years since their first class at any private university.

I am not against private universities. But I am against the sabotage and abolition of the only chance of education for 75 000 students.

Oh, and for the record, I am a Lebanese University graduate. I couldn't be prouder of that. The Lebanese University was a chance for me. It is a chance for many of us. Public and free education is a right and it is our duty to protect it against “private educational corporations” that want to rip you off and against politicians who are contributing to this conspiracy. A proud and developed state is the one that has confidence in its public institutions, mostly in its public university.
Pascale Asmar