Challenges of Higher Education in Libya

Introduction to Libya:

Libya is located in North Africa, and has a coast of about 2000 Kilometers (1250 Miles) on the Mediterranean Sea, and it has an area of 1.8 Million square kilometers. Libya is the fourth largest among the countries of Africa and seventeenth among the countries of the world, and seven times the size of the United Kingdom. Libya neighbors Egypt and Sudan on the East, Niger, Chad, and Sudan on the South, and Algeria and Tunisia to the West. Based on the World Fact book 2011, Libya’s population is approximately 6.4 million, and there are about 1.7 million students including about 270,000 students studying at higher education level. The majority of the population lives in the North, and the vast portion of the country covered by the Sahara Desert. The official language in Libya is Arabic, and in the major cities both Italian and English can be understood. About 97% of Libyan people are Sunni Muslim, and 3% is other religions. The literacy for men is above 90%, and is more than 70% for women. The GDP is $34.83 billion (US dollars). The United Nations gave Libya its independence on 24 December 1951. At that time Libya was described as one of the poorest and the most backward country of the world. Based on the constitutional declaration, education in Libya is a right, and is free to everyone from elementary school right up to university and graduate study at home or abroad. The government is responsible for building and establishing schools, institutes, universities and educational and cultural foundations.

Education System:

The first nine years of education are compulsory, and free to every child in Libya. It is known as basic education, and children enroll at the age of 6. It consists of six years of primary school and three years of secondary school. Each level at basic education has a number of subjects which students should learn and pass to move on high level. Successful students can obtain the Basic Education Certificate. When finishing primary education successfully, students can enroll in secondary education. When completing secondary education, students can enroll in one of the universities in Libya.

Higher Education:

Higher education is governed by Higher Education & Scientific Research Minister (it is called the General Peoples’ Committee for Education & Scientific Research in Qaddafi’s regime). The higher education system is financed by Government, and is under the authority of the Higher Education Minister. Also, higher education in Libya is provided by universities. There are three types of qualifications (degrees) which are offered by universities: Bachelor degree (undergraduate), Master’s degree, and Ph.D. degree (graduate).  The first degree offered is the Bachelor degree (undergraduate) that requires four years of study in most programs after obtaining the secondary school certificate. In some fields like dentistry, pharmacy, veterinary medicine, engineering and architecture, Bachelor degrees require five years of study, while in medicine and surgery the bachelor degree requires six years of study. Some universities offer programs that lead to Master’s degree in most specializations after obtaining the bachelor degree. Master’s degree require on average 2 to 4 years of study (sometimes Master’s degree require 5 to 6 years of study. In addition, obtaining a Ph.D. degree in selected specializations and at certain universities requires three to four years of study.

Challenges of Higher Education:

Based on report released to the Centre of Quality Assurance and Accreditation of Educational Institutions in Libya expounded on Exploration Visits to Some Higher Education Institutions, there are some challenges facing Libyan higher education institutions. These challenges play an important role in implementing education program in Libyan universities. Moreover, Libyan universities are not able to achieve the higher education system goals because of these challenges. One can tabled these challenges as follows:

  1. There is a problem in having material source for universities’ programs and service. So that, these programs cannot last for long times.
  2. There is a problem in putting strategic plans that are and sufficient for the short-term objectives.
  3. There is a problem in selecting sufficient academic leaders who are able to achieve the goals of the higher education system in future.
  4. There is a problem in defining the vision and the mission of the universities or colleges or departments.
  5. There is a problem in developing and training programs of faculty members that have an impact on the quality of higher education system.
  6. There is a problem in understanding the meaning of quality that plays an important role in the education process negatively of the higher learning institutions.
  7. There is a problem in making decision within universities regarding the duties of faculty members of the higher learning institutions.
  8. There are no enough practices for faculty members and stuff that play an important role in creation and activation during the education process of the higher learning institutions.
  9. There is a problem in clearing the organizational structure of universities as well as the policy and administration of the higher learning institutions.
  10. There is a problem in developing plans for improving the education process due to the instability of the administration, regulations, and systems of the study programs of the higher learning institutions.
  11. There is a problem in narrowing the powers of leaders at all levels of the higher learning institutions, which has an impact on improving the quality of education. So that, the structure of the higher learning institutions is always changing, and it is difficult to be improved.
  12. There is a problem in developing and improving the academic programs in the higher learning institutions due to difficulties in the process. These difficulties are due to quantitative dimensions of education quality and the spread of the institutions in a wide geographical area.
  13. There are a lot of problems that have accumulated for a long time need to be solved.
  14. There is a problem in establishing a relationship between the higher learning institutions and the labor market in Libya.
  15. There is a problem in linking undergraduate and graduate programs with the labor market. So that, the education system can greatly shapes the future of the students and the industry as well.
  16. There is a problem in identifying the areas of research.
  17. There is a problem in providing developing and equipping laboratories and libraries. That will play an important role in making sure that the education system is fully equipped and backed with relevant information sources rather than subscribing to periodicals and academic journals.
  18. There is a problem in developing the methods of learning, teaching, and studying. That has an impact on the quality of education process, and on the omission of the use of self-learning skills such as: analytical thinking, problem solving, and creativity, innovation, and research skills.