Al-Azhar University

Al-Azhar University opened in 1991 in the middle of Gaza City. In the 2010-2011 academic year, more than 18,000 students enrolled for Bachelor’s degrees and diploma studies, taught by 275 lecturers. The university has 12 faculties, including medicine, dentistry, pharmaceutical sciences, engineering, agriculture and environment, economics and administration sciences, law, literature and humanities, education and Islam.

The Al-Azhar University’s medical faculty opened in 1999 as an extension of Al-Quds University in the West Bank, making Al-Azhar the first university to offer medical studies in the Gaza Strip. A year later, the faculty was denied access to Al-Quds, as since 2000 the travel of students from the Gaza Strip to the West Bank has been banned and the travel of lecturers between the two areas limited. Therefore, the faculties of the two universities have not been able to meet to prepare courses and Al-Azhar students are barred from traveling to the West Bank to take courses available there. In the absence of an appropriate lecturer in the Gaza Strip, students from Al-Azhar enroll in a clinical neurology course via video link-up with Al-Quds. Furthermore, students do not have access to the library, modern laboratory facilities and medical equipment of Al-Quds.

After the closure of the Gaza Strip was tightened in the middle of 2007, the medical faculty of Al-Azhar University opened a separate dean’s office, which uses the same curriculum and same exams as faculty at Al-Quds University. The latter approves the M.D. certificates issued to the students in Gaza. The two faculties confer once a month by video to coordinate curricula.

Al-Azhar University offers Master’s degrees in a number of subjects including pharmaceutical sciences, chemistry, mathematics, agriculture, political science, statistics, economics, psychology, education, Middle Eastern studies and law. Some of the academic subjects that can be studied in the West Bank are not offered at Gaza universities, such as occupational therapy, medical engineering, veterinary studies, environmental studies, democracy and human rights. Nor are doctoral degrees offered by Gaza’s universities, except for the Islamic law and Arabic language track opened by the Islamic University in 2009.

For more on al-Azhar University:

To read the report “Obstacle Course: Students denied exit from Gaza”, July 2009, click here.
To play the interactive game Safe Passage, click here.
To read the info sheet about the impact of the separation between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank on higher education, click here.
To visit the university web site, click here.