Palestinian universities facing financial crisis

On 4 October 2016, the Palestinian Ministry of Education and Higher Education announced the formation of a new committee of representatives from Palestinian universities to develop a higher education law to help resolve problems Palestinian universities are currently facing, including a financial crisis.

The announcement was made during the closing ceremony of this year’s Muwatin annual conference -  entitled ‘Are Palestinian universities in crisis?’ - which was held by the Muwatin Institute for Democracy and Human Rights at Birzeit University on 30 September.

The decision follows a protest by the student council at Birzeit University in response to a rise in tuition fees. The university had proposed to increase the fees by two Jordanian dinars (£2.30) per hour and by four Jordanian dinars (£4.60) for new students.

Birzeit university has since agreed not to increase tuition fees for returning students, but tuition fees for new students will be increased by one Jordanian dinar for each credit hour. The university president has guaranteed that financial aid of the equivalent amount will be provided to new in-need students after they complete a financial aid application. The university has also pledged not to increase tuition fees for four years, starting from the current academic year 2016/17.

All Palestinian public universities have been affected by dwindling government subsidies, due to a decrease in the Palestinian government’s budget. The financial crisis is such that staff at some Palestine universities have been receiving partial salaries.

Universities are keen to avoid increasing tuition fees unless absolutely necessary and are doing what they can to meet the deficit with foreign financial aid and help from local donors, but such support will not resolve the financial crisis.

13 October 2016