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Yemen

Higher Education

Higher or tertiary education witnessed a dramatic expansion in the 1990s. In 2000, there were seven public universities and eight private ones, compared with only two public ones at unification in 1990. Further, there are a number of two year colleges, plus several postsecondary specialized education institutes.

In 1996-1997, there were 53,082 students enrolled at Yemeni universities, of which 8,224 or 13 percent were females. Academic staff in 1991-1992 totaled 1,800. In 1996-1997, the proportion of Yemeni tertiary students by field of study was 29.6 percent in social sciences, 24.3 percent in education, 10.9 percent in humanities, 10.2 percent in natural sciences, 3.9 percent in medicine and medical sciences, and 21.1 percent in other fields. The last group includes students in business studies, engineering, and law.

These figures were the latest available at the time of writing (2001) but should have increased markedly in the interim given the rise in enrollments at the University of Sana'a, the country's largest campus, as well as the growth in the number of private universities in recent years. One estimate in 1998 put the total number of university students at 170,000 with nearly half of all students being at the University of Sana'a.

While the University of Sana'a remains the largest university in Yemen, the University of Aden is also large and offers diverse courses of study. The expansion of university education began after the unification of the two Yemens in 1990. Around the mid-late-1990s, five new public universities were opened in Ta'izz, Hadramout, Ibb, Dhamar, and Hodeida. Eight private universities were also established during the 1990s.

There are also several institutions offering two-year diplomas, especially in teaching, technical, and vocational disciplines, but in comparison to universities proper, enrollments in two-year programs are low and not as popular with prospective students.

The most common issue with university education, as with secondary, is the fact that most students choose theoretical rather than applied courses. Even in applied courses, the lack of laboratory and other facilities has meant that students spend a disproportionate amount of their time on theoretical rather than practical learning making them poorly equipped when they graduate. The dramatic rise in numbers has also had a negative impact on class sizes and the general quality of tertiary education. Nonetheless, there have been improvements in recent years with a priority placed on better-equipping university libraries and with new courses and programs created in fields such as health, demography, environmental studies, and physical education.

Postgraduate and academic research in Yemen is extremely limited, including in crucial areas such as medicine, engineering, and business administration. This is due in part to the limited resources allocated to research, as well as the fact that there is virtually no culture within government or business that sees postgraduate study or research experience as a necessary step for appointment or promotion.

Figures on research expenditure are not available. Postgraduates account for 0.2 percent of the population, which, including students undertaking coursework, demonstrates a very low level of research emphasis. Yemenis studying or residing overseas are, on average, considerably better educated, although the total figure would still be minuscule.

Outside of academia, the figure is little better. The public sector undertakes some statistical research, often of good quality, although obviously it is mostly for reporting and policy purposes rather than being qualitative or original research for the purposes of inquiry or the development of new knowledge or techniques. The private sector undertakes very little research apart from a handful in the area of business trends and strategy.


Additional topics

Education Encyclopedia - StateUniversity.comGlobal Education ReferenceYemen - History Background, Constitutional Legal Foundations, Educational System—overview, Preprimary Primary Education, Secondary Education