Brief outline of key issues, challenges and recommendations addressed during the first session
> In Syria, the total participation from Syrians aged 18-24 in tertiary education was at 20% before the war and less than 5% in 2016. The Influx of registered refugees from Syria in Lebanon has increased sharply since the beginning of the war with Lebanon having received the highest number of refugees per capita in comparison with other countries. The situation is dense and compounded with other issues related to the host community as well.
> Latest governmental statistics show that the number of Syrian students enrolled at universities in Lebanon has decreased from 7,072 in 2014-2015 to 5,860 in 2015-2016. These statistics take into account Syrian students but not necessarily refugee students. The reason for this decrease deserves to be further explored.
> The question of the students’ identity and who is regarded as a refugee has also been raised during the discussion with participants considering that there is no way to determine whether a Syrian in Lebanon is refugee or not. But categorizing a person as a non-refugee does not mean that he/she is not affected by the crisis. And a presence in Lebanon before the conflict does not necessarily mean that a person is not a refugee.
> Refugee students from Syria are mainly facing the following challenges:
– > Financial difficulties due to various reasons:
– The structure of the Higher Education system itself with only one public university offering HE at relative affordable costs while all other HE institutions are private and dependent on tuition fees which are often tremendous and cannot be afforded by students.
– Limited resources and support to tertiary education – priority is often given to primary and secondary education.
– Male students at university age are often the sole breadwinners of their families. Going to university reduces the time they can allocate to earning money and by that their income. Scholarships are too low to be able to substitute the loss of income accordingly.
-Access and academic documentation; authenticity and equivalency.
-Language barriers considering that the language of instruction in Lebanon is mainly in French or English at universities, including the Lebanese University. Only certain programs are taught in Arabic
-Research showed that it’s not only a problem of language: insufficient cognitive preparedness to engage in discussions and learning within the institution is also a key issue.
-Residency permits and fees/legal status – required for admission at tertiary education institutions.
-Access to the right information and lack of information about blended learning.
-Future prospects: Employment and labour market conditions in Lebanon are causing a unsolvable dilemma for both the Syrian students and the Lebanese host society.