The availability of higher education in Lebanon is jeopardized because of the high cost of tuition in US dollars. Universities, on the other hand, insist that this is the only option as the economic crisis deepens.
A scholarship paid 85 percent of Manar Sleiman’s expenses as she relocated from Baalbek to Beirut in 2018 to pursue a degree in architecture at Notre Dame University.
Despite the fact that the university she selected to attend was not the most costly in Lebanon, she still had difficulty making ends meet.
In addition to paying tuition and living expenses, the 22-year-old said he had to sleep in the university dorm since he couldn’t afford a place of his own.
She was already worried about her future as a student, but the economic crisis that began in late 2019 made things considerably more difficult. Sleiman’s life was significantly altered by the financial crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the blast at the Beirut port.
“Because of the confluence of these events, my mental health deteriorated. My coworkers and I are exhausted, discouraged from furthering our education, and unable to give our all to courses we do” she muttered. “All of a sudden, we were exhausted and had lost interest in learning.”
Universities & Students are Affected by Lebanon’s Economic Crisis
First semester in university, Sleiman paid 5,600 Lebanesian Liras each credit, before the economic crisis. In contrast, today, she has to pay 3.5 million Lebanese Liras for every credit. She needs to earn 172 credits to graduate.
An increase in the cost of schooling isn’t all that different from what’s going on in the rest of society.
A 211 percent inflation rate was recorded by Lebanon’s Central Statistics Administration in May 2022, yet most Lebanese salaries have not changed, leaving many people struggling to make ends meet in their daily lives.
There is also a dollarization process taking place in the Lebanese economy, which now exchanges Lebanese lira for US dollars at 29,000 Liras per US dollar.
Before the economic crisis, three liters of sunflower oil cost about 5,000 Lebanese Liras. Now, it costs about 6,000 Liras. About 300,000 Liras worth of oil is now available in Lebanon.
Discovering New Sources of Funds to Cover Tuition
All but one of Lebanon’s 32 universities — the Lebanese University — are privately run. Since lower rates were put in place during the economic crisis, some institutions are now requesting that students pay in US dollars for some or all of their tuition fees.
Higher-ranking colleges in Lebanon declared in March and May that starting in the fall of 2022, they would only take tuition fees paid in US dollars. Lebanese American University and the American University of Beirut.
Even the public Lebanese University would charge students in US dollars for specialized master’s degrees in engineering, according to local media.
Universities claim that they must use US dollars to cover their own costs, which is why they are making the switch. Because of this, dollarization was the only way to ensure the survival of academic institutions while also ensuring the maintenance of high standards of academic excellence.
In addition to the overall increase in tuition prices, it’s possible that students will be unable to attend college due to the requirement of paying in US dollars for part or all of their tuition.
Anxiety About the Future Among Students
It’s a difficult time for Maya Hamadeh, a 19-year-old Lebanese American University multimedia journalism student. In addition to financial help and part-time work, she receives a scholarship. The new dollarized costs may still be out of her reach.
“Mount Lebanon’s Chouf district is where I dwell. There has been an increase in the cost of transportation to my institution in Beirut since I started there, “She explained.
“Furthermore, dorms, restaurants, and consumables are rising in price… Rather than listing pricing in Lebanese liras, several grocery stores and restaurants use actual US dollars “she stated.
Because it puts many students’ futures in jeopardy, charging tuition in US dollars is unfair, according to Hamadeh. As for her own future at university, she’s apprehensive and on the lookout for an answer.
“Donors are being sought as well as an increase in my financial aid from my university. To continue my education, I need to get a job. Alternatively, if I continue my education, I would accrue enormous student loan debt, which my family will be unable to pay off “she explained.
I am doing my master’s degree at Bahauddin Zakariya University and at the same time, I am working as a news editor at “The Daily News Times”.