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Strike at Lebanese University Threatens More than 80,000 Students

Strike at Lebanese University Threatens More than 80,000 Students

Friday, 14 June, 2019 - 12:00
Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil chairs a meeting to discuss the Lebanese University crisis. (NNA)
Beirut - Paula Astih
The ongoing dispute between the professors of the Lebanese University and the government has reached unprecedented levels. Six weeks have passed since the beginning of the strike announced by the University professors, while more than 80,000 students are paying the heavy price of the crisis.

Despite the negotiations that intensified last week, under the direction of Education Minister Akram Shehayeb, student resentment has increased as they were supposed to have completed their academic year to prepare for the next by applying to universities abroad or to find summer jobs.

A large number of students support the demands of professors, but most of those belonging to parties oppose the strike and follow the positions announced by their political leaders.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Saad Hariri strongly criticized the teachers’ move, saying that what was happening was "unacceptable" and that they did not have the right to continue with their strike, which started over the professors’ concern that the new state budget would affect their salaries.

In spite of Hariri’s assertion that no items in the budget would impact them, President of the League of the Lebanese University Full-Time Professors, Youssef Daher stressed that a number of items would directly or indirectly affect the professors, especially through income tax on pensions.

He hoped that the prime minister’s recent sharp criticism would not obstruct the existing negotiations and that all the demands of the professors would be met. He pointed out, however, that if some of the demands were accepted, there would be a meeting for those concerned to take the appropriate decision to either maintain the strike or suspend it.

A meeting was held on Thursday evening at the Finance Ministry to discuss the crisis. It was attended by Minister of Finance Ali Hassan Khalil, Shehayeb, MP Bahia Hariri, University President Fouad Ayoub and representatives of the professors.

In remarks following the meeting, Khalil announced that an agreement was reached and that all the participants have stressed the priority to fully support the LU.

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