West Bank and Gaza
Your excellency the Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research
Dr. Mahmoud Abu Mowais,
Subject: Rankings of Palestinian Universities at the Arab and International Levels
MUSAWA - The Palestinian Center for the Independence of the Judiciary and the Legal Profession - extends its greetings and draws attention to the drastic decline and horrific ranking of Palestinian universities internationally and in the Arab world, as revealed by the QS ranking for the year 2023, which, as we are sure you are aware, is the most accredited university ranking in the world.
The most alarming aspect is that none of the Palestinian universities are ranked among the top 1000 universities in the world, and some are even out of the ranking entirely, demonstrating the dramatic decline of some Palestinian universities in the last two years, including but not limited to, Birzeit University that used to rank 800 two years ago, but now ranks between 1200 and 1400 according to this year's report. Moreover, Al-Najah and Al-Quds Universities are ranked between 1000 and 1200 worldwide, while the Arab American University is ranked between 130 and 150 in the Arab world, Al-Quds and Birzeit Universities are ranked between 60 and 70, and Al-Najah is ranked between 50 and 60. This ranking uses research, contributions, academic polls, and academic quality as ranking indicators, suggesting that the decline is the result of universities' emphasis on increasing academic programs and majors at the expense of research, contributions, and academic quality.
We, as an independent civil oversight body on the performance of the government and justice, believe that it is critical for your esteemed ministry to bolster its role in overseeing and monitoring universities in order to control the quality of education, and address the current academic chaos that indicates the transformation of universities from academic institutions into businesses looking to attract the greatest number of students. This can be seen in the high acceptance rate in Palestinian universities that are trying to admit more students at all costs, as well as the rise in the unemployment rate of their graduates and the fact that there are now more than 60 students in each lecture. Furthermore, Palestinian universities lack a legally binding clause in the employment contract stipulating a university professor's contribution to scientific research, despite the fact that this policy is present in prestigious international universities. In addition, there is a competitive environment prevalent among universities, making it seem as though they are in a business race rather than a scientific one.
Therefore, we believe that the current state and reality of education necessitates a careful examination of the causes of this terrifying decline, drawing lessons and taking the necessary measures to address these causes and avoid its dangerous effects, including increasing the financial and technical support of your esteemed ministry and the government for universities, as education is a paramount societal value and a prerequisite for sustainable development. We hope that your Excellency will carefully review this memo and implement the necessary policies and procedures to restore Palestinian universities' status on the Arab and international levels, and that these actions be made public so that citizens can access them, and ensure that the Council of Higher Education and all Palestinian university administrations abide by them.
*This memo was also addressed to the Chairperson and members of the Council of Higher Education