L24 conducted an interview with the dean of Idlib University, Dr. Ahmad Hamid Abu Hajr, regarding the University’s admittance to UNIMED. Dr. Abu Hajr was born on the 12th of September 1982 and attained a doctorate with First Class Honors in analytical chemistry in 2013. In this interview he gives some details about Idlib University and what the admittance to the Mediterranean Universities Union means. Editor’s Note: UNIMED counts 141 Universities coming from 23 countries of both shores of the Mediterranean.
L24: We recently received the news about Idlib University being admitted to UNIMED, what does this mean to the University in general?
Dr. Abu Hajr: The administration of Idlib University put forth a plan for the recognition of its certificates and degrees. One of the steps in this plan was to be admitted to UNIMED. This helps in attaining accreditation and internationalization of the certificates issued by the University.
L24: Does it mean that this University and its degrees are recognized?
Dr. Abu Hajr: Idlib University joining UNIMED does not mean that the degrees are recognized internationally but it is a significant indication which will contribute to degrees being recognized internationally.
L24: What does it mean for the students of Idlib University?
Dr. Abu Hajr: There are many university students that dislike studying in Idlib because the region is not accredited internationally and that the degrees attained in Idlib University would merely be ink on paper. When there is a union like UNIMED which accredits Idlib University and the courses available in it, it gives a significant indication to the students that their efforts are not wasted.
L24: Where do you see Idlib University going in the next 5 to 10 years?
Dr. Abu Hajr: Idlib University at the moment is striving to create an infrastructure that is worthy of the people in the liberated areas and the students of Idlib University in terms of lecture halls, auditoriums and laboratories. Idlib University is also striving to raise the quality of education in all of its branches. This is the plan for the first coming 5 years. For the 5 years after that we wish, God willing, that we could have partnerships with other universities around the world.
L24: We hear that many students graduate and complete their master or doctorate degrees in Turkey, are there plans to provide such degrees in Idlib?
Dr. Abu Hajr: This is correct, there are many students that complete their education in Turkey. When they return with their specializations, God willing, we wish to enable them to provide their knowledge and specializations to our students.
L24: Does Idlib suffer from brain-drain?
Dr. Abu Hajr: Idlib suffered great brain-drain as a result of the barbaric fierce campaign from the regime, in cooperation with Iran and Russia. But at the moment, the region enjoys a certain level of stability which in turn reduces the brain-drain. We are also working on creating a new generation of educated people and raising the level of the cadres present in Idlib.
L24: What would you advise to educated Syrians abroad (sympathetic with the revolution)?
Dr. Abu Hajr: We wish to say to our Syrian brothers and sisters abroad that we are in need of their expertise, we need their efforts and we need them to stand at our side so we can benefit from their specializations and knowledge. We call upon them to return to the relatively calm liberated areas. And if they weren’t able to, we call upon them to assist us in helping our people in the liberated areas and Idlib specifically.
L24: Are there any other Universities in the liberated areas on the same level of Idlib University or higher?
Dr. Abu Hajr: Yes, there’s a number of other universities but their level and quality is much lower than Idlib university, the most notable university of them is Aleppo University in the liberated areas.
L24: What are the major achievements attained by this University until now?
Dr. Abu Hajr: The greatest achievement attained by Idlib University is its self-reliance, where it does not receive any foreign (financial) support, the second one was the opening of Idlib University hospital. It’s the only one in the liberated areas, supervised by a number of experienced doctors and likewise without any foreign financial support. Our third achievement was a large number of our students being accepted with scholarships in Turkish universities to finish their masters’ and PHD degrees.
L24: Does Idlib University have any partnership with other Universities?
Dr. Abu Hajr: Yes, Idlib University has a number of partnerships with universities inside the liberated areas, like al-Shamal University, Shaam University and Mari University. We also have partnerships with universities outside of the liberated areas. At the moment we have correspondence and understanding between us and Cambridge university to cooperate on a research center for the medical institutes.
L24: Every year we witnessed students going to regime areas to receive a recognized degree, has the recognition of Idlib University removed the need to receive degrees in regime universities? To what degree? How does this affect the revolution?
Dr. Abu Hajr: When Idlib University first started operating many people were reluctant to enroll in this university, they rather preferred going to the regime areas because the degrees there are recognized internationally. This recognition has since not retained its status with the people, Idlib University now provides education of higher standard than that of the regime by the Grace of Allah. In addition to removing the barriers concerning recognition by the internationalization of Idlib University through its relations and understandings with neighboring countries and a number of partnerships and universities abroad.
L24: How many students are graduating this year compared to previous year?
Dr. Abu Hajr: This year there are nearly 500 graduates in all branches, and the number of graduates is higher than previous year.
L24: Graduated students often find difficulty in attaining a job, are there any efforts in dealing with this issue?
Dr. Abu Hajr: A number of graduates from Idlib University do experience difficulty in finding a suitable job. We from our side are contacting steering committees, especially the planning authorities, to find suitable job opportunities for them in the form of small or medium projects that would in turn raise their experience in the job market.
L24: Many think the revolution caused the loss of a generation, what do you say to them?
Dr. Abu Hajr: It’s the complete opposite, the revolution caused the liberation of a generation. It made them understand the reality of the Syrian revolution and its importance in relation to the world, it made them understand the fabricated history which the criminal regime used to propagate in their attempt to distort the image of the Levant, the Islamic world and Syrians. In reality, the Syrian revolution preserved and clarified to our students where we are at now and what the correct path is.
L24: Has the University thought about inviting lecturers from abroad?
Dr. Abu Hajr: Idlib University has not only thought about inviting lecturers but has already done so for two years. This year, there’s a number of lecturers that taught subjects either physically inside the university or through social media platforms like Zoom. Among these lecturers is Dr. Abdurahman Mehli.
L24: Where do you see the liberated areas heading in the next few year education wise?
Dr. Abu Hajr: The people of Syria are known for their fondness and great love for knowledge. I see that in the coming years more people will join the university, will be educated and the level of education in the liberated areas will rise.
L24: To conclude, do you wish to add anything?
Dr. Abu Hajr: We in Idlib University are very keen in protecting the future of our students and are working tirelessly in raising the levels of knowledge, administration and research labs. We are doing this to reach the ranks of international universities and to reach what the people hope from us. I ask Allah to bless our children, the next generation, so they are prepared to become pioneers of our future and the flagbearers after us.