The Syrian Observatory For Human Rights

Areas held by Turks and rebels in north of Syria | Conflict between educational institutions destroys the future of thousands of university students

The conflict of educational institutions of all names and affiliations has been escalating in recent times, increasing to the suffering of university students, in light of The Turkish expansion in the areas of the northern Aleppo countryside and Idlib and the intervention of Turkish educational institutions as they have now official universities in the areas of “Euphrates Shield” and “Olive Branch.”

On the other hand, universities affiliated with opposition are seeking recognition from outside parties to secure the future of their students and so that universities avoid any dispute with the governments controlling Idlib and Aleppo countryside.

“Al-Nahda University” is one of the universities that is facing ongoing problems because it is a private university and belonged to the “Salvation Government” loyal to HTS, as the “Salvation Government” attempted many times to control its administration, which prompted the university administration to relocat it to the city of Azaz in late 2019, with the work to secure full recognition after the decision of the Council of Higher Education, which was newly formed by the “Interim Government”, to exclude the medical specialities from recognition and transfer them to the Free Aleppo University. The decision required the university to secure the rest of the files in return for allowing the students of theoretical colleges and institutes to continue their education, which number 2,800 students in all majors.

Tuition ranges from $150 for theoretical schools and $400 for medical schools and $900 for medical colleges annually.

Despite the lack of recognition of the medical branches and threats to close it in the future, the university has decided to build a hospital bearing its name near the city of Azaz, to teach students in medical branches, as the hospital contains approximately 70 beds covering all departments and clinics, and aims to help students and graduates of the university.

Meanwhile, the “Free Aleppo University”, based in the city of Azaz in northern Aleppo, seeks recognition from the Turkish side, under the supervision of the Turkish-backed “Interim Government.”

The number of students of “Free Aleppo University” is estimated at about 7,200 students in all majors.

The students of the faculties of medicine of “Al-Nahda University” moved individually to continue their studies at the “Free Aleppo University”, fearing that their university will not be internationally recognised, despite the the efforts of “Al-Nahda University”  administration to bring international recognition.

Furthermore, Idlib University is one of the largest universities in north-western Syria, with about 15,000 male and female students and supervised by the “Salvation Government” loyal to HTS in Idlib. However, there are great concerns about the future of students who have graduated or will graduate in the coming years, as Idlib University is in disagreement with other parties in terms of recognizing their certificates as well as students’ concerns about not providing jobs opportunities.

University students in the areas held by the factions in Idlib and Aleppo countryside, face great difficulties in securing annual university tuition and fees, in addition to the difficult living conditions they are going through, and the displacement in the camps.

Some students have left their education because of lack of income and doing freelance work. The large distances between students’ homes and universities is a major problem suffered by students in the light of high transportation fees, where the average student need is about $50 per month for transportation, besides other needs. Also, roads are often closed due to security conditions.