Lebanese University Falls Prey to Confessional Agendas

Lebanese University Falls Prey to Confessional Agendas

Monday, 6 August, 2018 - 07:30
Lebanese University students. Photo taken from LU website
Beirut - Sanaa el-Jack
The Lebanese University has fallen prey to the country’s power-sharing system, which is threatening the institution's collapse due to sectarian and political agendas.

The LU’s recent plight came to the spotlight when academic and historian Dr. Issam Khalife was summoned by the judiciary after the university's president, Fouad Ayoub, accused him of slander and defamation against the backdrop of claims that he had falsified his diploma.

Khalife told Asharq Al-Awsat that he intended no harm to the university, which he described as the “backbone of the educational system.”

“Yet, today it (LU) is under the threat of collapse, having severe repercussions on basic and vital sectors,” he said.

“We are asking the university president to show us his diploma to end any doubts on the matter,” Khalife added.

The LU, which was established 67 years ago, had a very good reputation that was tarnished after the civil war (1975-1990). Its main campus in the Hadath area of Beirut’s southern suburbs where the majority of students support "Hezbollah" has witnessed a form of hegemony compelling many students, who reject the policies of the party and its ally the Amal movement, to drop out.

Dr. Antoine Sayyah, president of the Association of Friends of the Lebanese University, warned in remarks to Asharq Al-Awsat that sectarian agendas are threatening the LU’s balance.

University branches in Christian-majority areas have come under threat after professors from outside these regions were granted tenure, he said.

Ayoub has not fulfilled his promises to resolve the problem, stressed Sayyah, lamenting the lack of diversity in the academic corps.

Retired professor Charbel Khoury also told the newspaper that the LU was hugely damaged during the civil war. But the situation worsened when the political class, which has dominated the country since the war ended in 1990, began to interfere in the university’s affairs.

“Politicians considered the university a source of services and exaggerated in their meddling.”

“Another problem with the university is that it hasn’t grown like prestigious universities should do …. Only 35 percent of university students (in the country) are enrolled in it,” he said.

Sayyah also blamed the state for neglecting the LU. “No matter how dire the economic situation is, the sectors of health and education should not be affected,” he said.

Khalife revealed a warning was issued by the European Union that it would not recognize the university’s diplomas if the Lebanese state does not take any action.

He said that Ayoub not only refuses to give details on his diploma, but also practices dentistry in violation of the law, which says the LU’s president should fully be devoted to his job at the institution.

“Some faculty deans have also their private businesses,” he said.

"Mafias" are taking control of Lebanese state institutions, including the LU, Khalife told Asharq Al-Awsat, calling on politicians to resolve the crisis before the high academic levels, which the university enjoyed in the past, drop further.

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