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Higher Education

According to Carla Semaan at the Lebanese Embassy in Washington, DC, there are 13 universities in Lebanon. These universities had a total of 79,141 students during the academic year 1994-1995. Nearly 23 percent were foreign students, compared with approximately 75 percent in 1974-1975 prior to the start of the civil war in the country. Lebanon's universities also had a total of 84,446 students during the academic year 1995-1996 and a total of 87,957 students during the academic year 1996-1997. The principle universities in Lebanon consist of the Lebanese University, with five branches (approximately 40,000 enrollments). It is the only one operated by the government; the others are owned and run by private entities. It had the highest enrollment in the academic year 1996-1997 (40,000 students); followed by Beirut Arab University (BAU), which is sponsored by the Egyptian University of Alexandria (14,000 students); Saint Joseph University, which is founded and run by French Jesuits (6,145 students); American University of Beirut (5,500 students); Lebanese American University (4,432 students); and Kaslik University (3,100 students). The other universities have less than 3,000 students enrolled. The Lebanese University (LBU), University Saint Joseph (USJ), and American University of Beirut (AUB) have medical schools.

The Lebanese University is a public (governmentrun) institution, with five campuses around the country (East and West Beirut campuses, Tripoli campus, Sidon campus, and Zahle campus). It was founded in 1951 with a major aim to train teachers for secondary schools. Since that time, its program has been expanded to include training for other professions as well. Instruction is relatively free, for students pay only nominal fees for registration, and those enrolled for teacher training purposes receive stipends. It was the first university to introduce an education major to Lebanon. It began with 68 students and, in 1959, it was given the license by the Lebanese government to teach all of its schools of study. Due to the civil war in the country, in 1976 the Lebanese University opened branches in Mount Lebanon (East Beirut), South Lebanon, North Lebanon, and the Bekaa, which was located in West Beirut. This was done to assure that students' educations would not be postponed. The Lebanese University has a nondiscriminatory policy due to religion, race, sex, nationality, or physical handicaps.

The Lebanese University offers academic programs in agriculture, communication (advertising and journalism), business administration, education, engineering, fine arts, law, literature and humanities, medicine, management, political science, and social sciences. Graduates can be awarded bachelor's, master's, and Ph.D. degrees.

The university follows the French model of higher education in most of its colleges and institutes and the U.S. credit system in a few of them. The grading system is based on a 0-20 or 0-100 scale, with 10 or 60, respectively, being recognized as the passing grade. To be admitted to the Lebanese University, Lebanese students are required to have the baccalaureate degree and pass an entrance exam in many programs, but foreign students are required to have an equivalent official secondary certificate.

The Beirut Arab University (BAU) is a private institution of higher education that was established in 1960. It is financially supported by Alexandria University of Egypt and operates under the auspices of the Moslem Philanthropic and Benevolent Society of Beirut. Accordingly, Alexandria University provides many of BAU's faculty members, controls its academics, and awards degrees to its graduates upon the recommendation of the BAU Council. BAU is a founding member of the Union of Arab Universities established in 1964 and a member of the International Union of Universities. It does not discriminate on the basis of religion, race, sex, nationality, or physical handicaps.

BAU's academic programs include architecture, arts, business administration, engineering, law, and life and health sciences. This university grants bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees in certain specialties. Arabic is the language of instruction, but English is used in programs like architecture, engineering, and sciences. Admission requirements and the grading system are mostly similar to those of the Lebanese University.

St. Joseph's University (USJ) was founded in 1875 by a group of monks. The Jesuit order administers it and has strong ties with the University of Lyons in France. Seventeen institutions joined together to form St. Joseph's University. Its main branch is in Beirut, with other branches in Tripoli, Saida, and Zahle. Courses of study are given in French and other languages as well. USJ's goal is to train students to enter all work fields, be it locally or abroad, with the power and knowledge for guaranteed success. Its programs include business administration, economics, engineering, humanities, law, medicine, pharmacy, political sciences, and theology. This university grants two-year diplomas, bachelor's, master's, higher diplomas, and doctoral degrees. Its requirements are similar to those of the Lebanese University, with emphasis on the entrance examination and proficiency in French. Its grading system is based on a scale of 0-20. USJ is directed and financed by the Jesuits. The deans and chairs are Jesuit priests. The French government and private French institutions offer grants and subsidize this university. It is a very influential institution in Lebanon.

The American University of Beirut (AUB) was founded by the Evangelical Mission to Syria in 1866 in Beirut, Lebanon. It was named the Syrian Protestant College then, and its present name was adopted in 1920. The purpose of the AUB, as an institution of higher learning, is to share in the education of the youth of the Middle East, in the service of its peoples, and in the advancement of knowledge. It is a residential institution, and its pattern of organization, administration, and standards are similar to the best educational institutions of the United States. The AUB is a secular university, financed by an endowment fund that can be supplemented by grants from the U.S. government as well as from private national and international institutions or individuals. Because of its high tuition rates, only well-to-do families can send their children to pursue their higher learning in it.

This university emphasizes scholarships, which enable students to think for themselves. It stresses high academic standards and high principles of character. In its service to students, the university strives to realize the ideals of its motto: "That they [students] may have life and have it more abundantly." The AUB admits students regardless of race, color, religion, gender, disability, or national origin to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the school. To be admitted to this university, students must be competent in English (have received a minimum score of 500 on the entrance exam or a minimum score of 575 on the test of English as a foreign language, known as the TOEFL). The grading system is based on a scale of 0-100, with 60 as a passing grade.

Its academic programs include colleges of arts and sciences, agriculture and food sciences, architecture and engineering, as well as medicine and health sciences. It grants bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees. English is the language of instruction, but Arabic is used in several fields of studies also. The academic year starts in September and is divided into three semesters following the time divisions of the U.S. universities (fall, spring, and summer). The AUB is considered one of the most influential institutions of higher education not just in Lebanon, but also in the entire Middle East region.

The Lebanese American University (LAU), once known as Beirut University College, is a multi-campus, career-oriented institution that prepares students for responsible living, fully aware of the rich heritage and multiple needs of their respective communities. LAU, which was founded by the U.S. Presbyterian Church, is an institution that shares the spiritual concerns of its founders. It is an internationally stimulating community responsive to the dynamics of its environment. It aims at serving the educational needs of Lebanon and the Middle East with its three campuses in Beirut, Byblos, and Saida. LAU is at the crossroads of many interacting educational systems. Lebanon's academic freedom is essential to a climate of intellectual growth and the integrating cultures at LAU and other institutions of higher learning. The country's rich, multi-faceted heritage enhances the student body's international character, representing more than 50 nationalities on its campuses. LAU is very similar to the AUB in its grading system, requirements, and programs of studies, with the exception of medicine and engineering colleges. Thus, its major emphasis lies in the arts and humanities.

There are other institutions and universities of higher education in Lebanon such as Notre Dame University, Balamand University, Haigazian University, Antonine University, Beirut Islamic University, Holy Spirit University, Louaizeh St. Mary University, Sagesse University—College of Law, and the Lebanese Academy of Fine Arts.

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