Universities in Libya

About universities in Libya

Libya is a large country located in the Maghreb region of North Africa, and with a total geographic area of roughly 700,000 square miles, it is the third largest country in Africa by area and the 17th largest nation in the world.  The country is bordered by Algeria and Tunisia to the west, Chad and Niger to the south, Sudan to the southeast, Egypt to the east and the Mediterranean Sea to the north.  As of the last census, Libya had an estimated population of 6.4 million, of which approximately 1.7 million lived in the nation’s capital and largest city of Tripoli.  The official language of Libya, which claimed independence from the United Kingdom and France in 1951, is Arabic, which is also the language of instruction at most Libyan schools and universities.
Higher Education in Libya:  Overview
The establishment of the first university in Libya in 1955 was seen as a crowning achievement in the early stages of independence.  At that time, only a Faculty of Arts existed, but between 1962 and 1967 the university expanded to include faculties of Economics and Commerce, Law, Sciences, Agriculture, Engineering and Education.  In the early part of the 1970s the lone Libyan university witnessed fundamental changes with the establishment of the faculties of Medicine, Arabic and Islamic Studies, Petroleum Engineering and Mineralogy.  It was also at this time that the university was divided into two distinct universities, one located in the capital city of Tripoli and the other situated in the second-largest Libyan city of Benghazi.  As time went on, more universities were established in other parts of the country in an attempt to meet the increasing social and economic demands in Libya, and to adapt to the rising number of Libyan students seeking higher education. Today, the higher education system in Libya consists of seven main universities, three universities of special nature and 15 departmental universities.  These were distributed throughout the country in the various administrative districts in addition to over 65 higher technical and vocational centers.
Higher Education in Libya:  Types of Higher Education Institutions and Programs
The tertiary or higher educational system in Libya is comprised of three types of institutions:  universities, higher vocational institutions and technical colleges.
Universities in Libya are the most comprehensive type of tertiary institution, offering three types of qualifications.  The first degree offered is the Bachelor degree, which requires four or five years of study in a specific program after earning a secondary school certificate.  Most bachelor programs span four years, however, certain fields, such as dentistry, pharmacy, veterinary medicine, engineering and architecture require 5 years of study at the undergraduate level.  Master’s degrees are offered in a select number of specializations, requiring 2-3 years of study after earning a Bachelor degree.  PhD programs are also available at certain universities in an even small number of specializations, with programs spanning 3-5 years depending on the field of study.
Higher vocational institutions, of which there are 63 in Libya, are spread throughout the country, offering programs in a wide array of vocational specialties.  These programs typically span three years after obtaining a secondary school certificate.  Graduates of higher vocational institutions are awarded vocational/technical diplomas, which allow them to seek a career position in their chosen field of study.
In 2009, 16 of the country’s higher vocational institutions were converted into technical colleges.  These schools offer technical bachelor degrees in a select number of technology-related specialties—degree programs which generally span 3-4 years after obtaining a secondary school certificate.

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