Lebanon’s only public university seeks financial support to survive

In recent months, the university has suffered several closures as well as a three-month strike by teachers to protest against the fall in the value of their salaries. Many other academics left the country after the collapse the value of the Lebanese pound against the US dollar.

Badran said one of his priorities was “to obtain financial increases for professors through external projects, given the limited government financial support for the university.”

He added: “I consider myself on a mission to save the university.”

The devaluation of the Lebanese pound caused university professors‘ salaries to fall from the equivalent of US$3,500 a month to less than US$200, Mortada said.

Mortada, a professor at the University’s Faculty of Law, Political and Administrative Sciences, said many colleagues have turned to online teaching to save on transportation costs, which have reached rates record.

“Everyone became unable to continue doing their academic homework. It delayed the start of the academic year,” he said.

“Donors must step in to preserve this national institution that provides semi-free education to Lebanese and Arab students in Lebanon, especially Palestinians and Syrians.

Contract teachers hardest hit

The university’s approximately 3,500 contract teachers appear to be hit harder than full-time staff. One of them, Ali Ataya, currently works as a lawyer, since his salary has dropped to around $1,120. Moreover, he only receives them every year or two, without any university commitment to cover his health, social or pension insurance.

Ataya told Al-Fanar Media that university teachers feel “trapped because of the difficult working conditions”, and added: “they are the cheapest thing in Lebanon, after their salary has become much lower than other professionals”.

The worst off, however, are the students of the Lebanese University. In addition to economic difficulties, they face problems such as power cuts that interrupt distance learning.

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