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Establishment and evolution: 19 faculties and 60 branches
The Lebanese University was established in 1951 and consisted at the time of three faculties and one institute: Faculty of Letters and Human Sciences, Faculty of Law and Political Sciences, Faculty of Sciences and the Institute of Social Sciences. In later years, the university grew into nineteen faculties and institutes, and starting 1975, the date signaling the outbreak of the Lebanese Civil War, the Lebanese University started branching out across all Lebanese Mohafazas. It has currently sixty branches.

 
Number of students: 69,000
The student population enrolled at the Lebanese University has increased over the decades, accounting in certain years for 60% of the total student population in higher education. However, this percentage declined significantly as new private universities started to surface, reaching 36% currently as illustrated in Table 1. Most noteworthy is that a majority of students totaling 38704 or 52.5% are enrolled in theoretical faculties while 21039 are enlisted in the Faculty of Letters and Human Sciences, which means that roughly 28.5% of the Lebanese University student community is condensed into a single faculty.
 
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Number of higher education graduates: 33,000
The Lebanese University graduates totaled 2786 in the academic year 1991-1992, thus constituting 30.7% of all higher education graduates. This number rose to 12635 in 2010-2011 accounting for 38.7% of the total university graduate population, as illustrated in Table 2. Graduates from theoretical and literary faculties made up 78.5% of all Lebanese University graduates in 2010-2011.
 
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Faculty members and administrative staff: 8158
With the increasing LU student population and the introduction of new faculties and branches, it was only natural to observe an increase in faculty members and administrative staff. Interestingly, the rise in the number of professors exceeded that of students with the former increasing by 156% and the latter by 82.2% between 1992 and 2012. Table 3 illustrates the evolution of numbers of LU faculty members and administrative staff.
 
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Full-time employment: 1213 professors
One of the numerous problems marring the Lebanese University was the issue of full-time employment. According to Law 6/70, LU professors can be contracted either on a full-time or on an hourly basis, depending on the need for teaching staff and the academic competence of the applicant. If there is a need for teaching staff, professors may obtain permanent employment as soon as they submit their application. Otherwise, they will have to continue lecturing on an hourly basis until they get a permanent status after two years. However, as a result of the lack of demand, yet the abundance of applications, the LU administration has, for sectarian and political considerations, contracted a significant numbers of professors on an hourly basis. Given that the power to make LU professor full-time employees was withdrawn from the jurisdiction of the university council and was handed to the Cabinet instead, full-time employment became a function of political and sectarian bargaining inside the Cabinet. The most recent full-time employment was granted in May 2008, when, after a long wait, 685 LU professors were given permanent status. 

The efforts that have been underway to realize a second conversion to permanent employment paid off on July 24, 2014. These efforts had begun three years ago and included 630 candidates. However, political bickering inside the Cabinet entailed raising the number to 1213 in order to obtain the approval of all ministers and limit their objections, noting that the University Presidency had nominated 916 candidates only and therefore does not have a clear knowledge of the names of the additional professors hired. The said conversion has taken into consideration the sectarian balance granting permanent contracts to 590 Christian and 623 Muslim professors, accounting for 48.7% and 51.3% respectively. Conversely, less consideration was given to sectarian balance in 2008 when 293 (42.8%) Christians were hired versus 392 Muslims (57.3%). 


The status quo at the Lebanese University is as follows:
    1222 permanent professors.
    3500 professors contracted on an hourly basis. Of those, 1341 are eligible to become full-timers and the rest (2159) either lack the required criteria or are not interested in permanent employment due to their engagement in other sectors (judges, lawyers, economic experts, etc). Making 1213 LU professors full-timers will ensure 303,000 teaching hours assuming that the annual number of teaching hours is 250 per professor. Consequently, there remains a need for 290,000 hours to be delivered by professors paid on an hourly basis. In other terms, the conversion has neither eliminated nor reduced hourly- based contracts. 
 
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Cost: LBP 310 billion
Against the backdrop of the open-ended strike announced by LU professors in late 2011 and early 2012, salaries were hiked by a percentage ranging between 66% and 78% depending on the grade of each professor, as illustrated in Table 4.
 
 
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Cost
university was assigned the same amount in 2010 compared to LBP 171 billion in 2007. The allocations are likely to reach roughly LBP 310 billion after Cabinet has granted full-time employment to 1213 professors. Consequently, the annual cost per LU student will become LBP 4,500,000.

The following options can be adopted to reduce the cost:
    Increasing the yearly teaching hours of a full-time professor from 250 to 300.
    Reducing hourly-based contracts except in cases of necessity and according to merits and experience.
    Abolishing those small branches of the university that do not host more than 200 to 300 students.
    Rethinking some of the compensations, particularly those related to exams.

Plunging the Lebanese University in the sectarian and political conflicts would dwarf its role as national educational venue and transform it into just another failed entity straining the Treasury and yielding a generation of jobless graduates.


A closer look at the state of the Lebanese University between 1992 and 2012 reveals that:

    The number of LU students rose from 38208 to 69609, i.e. by 82.2%, but the university’s share of the total student population in higher education dropped from 44.7% to 36% against the 126% increase in the latter.

    While the number of LU graduates rose from 2786 to 12653, i.e. by 353%, that of all higher education graduates across Lebanon grew to a lesser extent standing at 260%. LU graduates accounted for 30.7% of the total graduates in Lebanon in 1992, a percentage that has grown currently to 38.7%.   


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