Eritrea faces a serious shortage of skilled professionals in all fields. The only institute of higher education in the country, the University of Asmara, since its reopening in October 1991, has been engaged in restructuring and revitalization and is still establishing new colleges. Since 1997, there have been eight—Agriculture and Aquatic Sciences; Arts and Language Studies; Business and Economics; Education; Engineering; Health Sciences; Law; Science—that offer a total of 17 bachelor degree programs, as well as diploma and certificate programs. The College of Business and Economics offers evening programs for working adults. A degree program requires four years' attendance. All students follow a general freshman program during the first year, then enter the college of their choice. After their second year, students are obliged to serve one year of national service; this means that it will take them a minimum of five years to earn a bachelor's degree. In 2000, the university graduated 371 students with bachelor's degrees, 170 with diplomas, and 106 with certificates. Enrollment in Fall 2000 was 4,642 (about 13 percent women). Total faculty was 230. The university foresees steady growth, with enrollment reaching 6,000 students in 2005 and stabilizing at around 8,000 by 2010.
The university aspires to become a regional center of higher education, but first to primarily serve national needs, and has developed linkages both to national programs and initiatives and to international donor organizations and foreign universities. In 2001, the university was still suffering from a lack of basic equipment, computers, laboratories, library facilities, and a shortage of qualified academic staff.
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