Title: YOUNG AND PROMISING: AN INTRODUCTION TO THE NES UNIVERSITY SYSTEM
Author: ROJAVA INFORMATION CENTER
Release date: SEPTEMBER 2022
In the face of war and regional isolation, the Autonomous Administration of
North and East Syria (AANES) has constructed a network of universities on its
territory in order to rival the knowledge-production institutions of the Syrian
government. In its stead, it offers a tertiary education system on par with international standards, yet fundamentally influenced by its democratic values.
North and East Syria's (NES) university system aims to provide the region's
youth with a better future, both politically and materially, as well as to seek
recognition for and export the AANES' political project by building bridges to
international educational institutions. While the achievements in the seven
years since NES' first university opened its doors are remarkable, NES universities' lack of broad international recognition is a stumbling block to the
success of this project. This report is to serve the reader as an introduction to
NES' universities, while also highlighting the challenges this system will face in
Four public universities were built in NES since these areas of Syria's north
and northeast became self-governing in 2012, of which three remain operational today. Rojava University was established in Qamishlo in 2016. It was
the second university of NES after Afrin University, which opened its doors in
2015 and was forced to close following Turkey's invasion of the region in 2018.
After Rojava University, two more higher-education institutions were opened
in NES: Kobane University was inaugurated in 2017. More recently, in the fall of
2021, al-Sharq University opened in Raqqa.
Prior to 2011, the Kurdish-majority areas of Syria had no public higher-education institutions of their own. Satellite campuses of Deir ez-Zor’s al-Furat
University (itself only established in 2006) alone were found in the city of Heseke, which is split between Arabs and Kurds. A majority of students in Jazira,
Kobane and Afrin visited al-Furat or the University of Aleppo. Others traveled
further, to Homs, Latakia or Damascus. Yet for most Kurdish youth, higher education remained out of reach.