In the winter term of 2010/11, postgraduate students of sociology at the Lebanese University (UL) protested against its newly established Doctoral School for Humanities and Social Sciences. The campaigners claimed that the reform was designed to functionalise graduate studies merely to serve the globalising labour market. Maybe it is not by coincidence that the campaign started with a boycott of the entrance exams to the Doctoral School. In the exams, foreign language skills were tested; skills which, on average, are less developed among the constituencies of the two March 8 parties who supported the protest. Following the protest, a government decision exempted one of the five local branches of the Institute of Social Sciences from the new system. During the academic year 2014/15, however, the new regulations for doctoral studies were finally adopted by the entire Institute of Social Science. Continue reading
The importance of universities can hardly be overestimated. Their numbers have grown massively, as have the number of the people enrolled in them relative to the total population worldwide. They exert multiple functions in the production and dissemination of knowledge. Moreover, they are ascribed the role to evaluate and certify knowledge in
the form of professional and scholarly status, curricula, as a basis for policies and more.
As universities themselves have a share in the definition and proclamation of social
problems and goals, they can easily turn into contested terrain in the claim for the right
interpretation of social phenomena and the right ways to address them. Unrest on university campuses, dense security regimes and long closures in the aftermath of political change in several Arab countries testify to that, as well as the continued control over teaching and research activities. Continue reading