Birzeit University

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Birzeit University
جامعة بيرزيت
Birzeit University logo.svg
Motto Building a Better Palestinian Future
Established 1924 as a School for Girls
1932 as a Higher School
1942 as a College
1975 as a University
Type Public
President Khalil Hindi
Academic staff 653
Undergraduates 8,465
Postgraduates 1,388
Location Birzeit, Palestine
Affiliations UNIMED
Website www.birzeit.edu

Birzeit University (Arabic: جامعة بيرزيت‎), often abbreviated as BZU, is a non-governmental public university located in Birzeit, Palestine, near Ramallah. Birzeit was the first university to be established in Palestine.[1] It has the highest admission averages among other Palestinian universities. Birzeit University offers graduate and undergraduate programs in information technology, engineering, sciences, social policy, nursing and health sciences, economics, and management. Birzeit University has 9 faculties, including the Graduate Faculty. These offer 47 BA programs for undergraduate students and 26 MA programs for graduate students.[2]

History[edit]

Birzeit University campus, 2007

Birzeit School for Girls was founded in 1924 by Nabiha Nasir as an elementary school for girls from Birzeit and the surrounding villages. It was one of the first schools in the region. In 1930, it broadened its scope to become a co-educational secondary school, and in 1932, it was renamed Birzeit Higher School. In 1942, the name was changed to Birzeit College. In 1953, a freshman higher education class was incorporated, followed by a sophomore class in 1961.[3]

The year 1948 was a turning point in the history of Birzeit College. By the spring, the political situation looked precarious, and Birzeit administrators worried that the school year (which normally ended in June) would be interrupted by events that might be triggered by the planned withdrawal of British forces and the end of the British Mandate that had been established in 1917. The administrators decided to complete the semester curriculum by April. The graduation ceremony was scheduled for April 30 and was to be held under the auspices of Abd al-Qadir al-Husayni, the chief commander of the Palestinian forces. But that was not to be; he was killed on April 8 at the battle of Al-Qastal by the Jewish paramilitary force Haganah, who were defending positions on that hill on the outskirts of Jerusalem.

In 1975, Birzeit College changed its name to Birzeit University. Birzeit University was accepted in April 1976 as a member of the Association of Arab Universities. University president Hanna Nasser was deported by Israel in 1974. He was allowed to return in 1993, with the beginning of the peace process.

Board of Trustees[edit]

Birzeit University is governed by an autonomous Board of Trustees composed of educators and professionals from the Palestinian community. The board appoints the president of the university. It also confirms the appointment of vice-presidents and deans upon the recommendation of the president. The board approves the budget and general development plans presented to it by the university council.

Administration[edit]

The university follows a semester system, with two four-month semesters beginning in Autumn and Spring, and shorter two-month two semesters in summer. Support comes from numerous Palestinian, Arab, and international foundations, as well as from various individuals.[4]

Faculties[edit]

Through Its nine faculties, including the Graduate Faculty, Birzeit University offers a wide range of graduate and undergraduate programs in various fields, where students can choose from 47 Bachelor of the Arts programs and 26 Master's of the Arts programs. Each faculty is constituted from several academic departments that offer specialized courses in all fields. In addition to majors, interested students who want to pursue an extra set of courses in areas other than their majors can be enrolled in minor courses.

Although the official language of instruction is Arabic, the university offers several courses in English. The educational system is based on four semesters - two summer semesters, one fall/winter semester and one spring/summer semester.

Academic profile[edit]

Birzeit University campus

New graduate and undergraduate programs in information technology, engineering, sciences, social policy, economics, and management are being developed. The University campus is being expanded. At the same time, Birzeit University's various community Centers and Institutes engage in policy-oriented research to assist in the economic, social and human development of Palestine. The university offers numerous undergraduate and post-graduate degrees through its seven faculties: Arts; Commerce and Economics; Engineering; Nursing-Pharmacy and Allied Health; Sciences; Law and Public Administration; Information Technology; and Graduate Studies.[5]

The Graduate Studies programs offers post-graduate diplomas and masters degrees in the following fields: Contemporary Arabic Studies; Arabic Islamic History; Education; Sociology; International Studies; Democracy and Human Rights; Economics; Law; Community and Public Health; Water and Environmental Engineering; Water and Environmental Sciences ; Gender, Law and Development; Business Administration; Applied statistics; Scientific Computing; Urban Planning And Design; and Medical Laboratory Sciences.[6]

The university also offers two High Diplomas in: Primary Healthcare (Supervision and Training); and Gender, Law, and Development. In addition to its academic programs, the University has a wide range of institutes, centers, and programs that aim to develop and support the community-oriented programs that contributes to the achievement of sustainable development in Palestine.[7]

Notable people[edit]

Currently, there are a number of professors who are also appointed as ministers in the current Palestinian government. Thirteen members of the Palestinian negotiating team in U.S.-sponsored Middle East peace talks were faculty members of Birzeit University. Hanan Ashrawi taught literature there.[8]

International Students[edit]

The Palestine and Arabic Studies (PAS) Program was established over 20 years ago at Birzeit University. Through PAS, international students benefit from accredited courses in Palestinian history, culture, the Palestine question and the Arabic language.

Students can take full advantage of the university facilities and interact with local students through clubs, societies, social events and recreational activities. Students will also have the opportunity to choose from a range of extracurricular lectures and schedule visits to places of historical, cultural and political interest, as well as volunteer for social projects.

International Summer Work Camp[edit]

Since 1981, Birzeit University (BZU) has been organizing International Summer Work Camps, aiming to achieve BZU’s mission, build generations that are open to the world, provide an opportunity for cultural exchange, introduce the Palestinian cause, and reinforce the Palestinian core values of caring, respect, peace, and acceptance of the other. The camps focus on community-oriented volunteer projects in schools, municipalities, and civil society organizations. They introduce participants to several geographical places in the West Bank. The International Summer Work Camps include voluntary work, visits to Palestinian cities, villages and refugee camps, and other Palestinian universities. Furthermore, it provides an opportunity for foreign participants to meet Palestinian families, political and community leaders, as well as Palestinian academics.

Exclusion of Israeli Jews[edit]

In September 2014, the leftist German Rosa Luxemburg Foundation and the Center for Development Studies at Birzeit University organized a conference entitled, "Alternatives to Neo-Liberal Development in the Occupied Palestinian Territories – Critical Perspectives",[9] but left-wing Israeli Haaretz journalist Amira Hass was asked by two Birzeit lecturers to leave on account of a rule against the presence of Israelis (which she judged to mean Israeli Jews).[10] She said that she had attended the University many times and had never heard of such a rule, but noted that non-Jewish Israeli citizens were not excluded.[10] The international conference's organizers were offended. The regional head of the Rosa Luxembourg Foundation Katja Hermann stated after the incident that she would not have agreed to hold the conference at Birzeit if she was aware of the policy.[10] The university later issued a statement that "The administration has nothing against the presence of the journalist Hass. The university as a national institution differentiates between friends and enemies of the Palestinian people…and works with every person or institution that is against the occupation."[10] In a previous incident, Israeli anti-Zionist historian Ilan Pappé had been invited to deliver a lecture at Birzeit which was held off-campus, as not to infringe with the ban on Israeli Jews.[11]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 31°57′31.29″N 35°10′50.54″E / 31.9586917°N 35.1807056°E / 31.9586917; 35.1807056