Challenges

As a higher education institution, Birzeit University faces a myriad of challenges that are both generic and specific. The generic challenges are shared with twenty first century higher education worldwide while the specific challenges are directly related to our geopolitical context and its social and epistemic associations.  These challenges inform and guide our strategy within its context of time and space. 

  1. The Israeli occupation imposes direct threats to higher education in Palestine by restricting mobility of persons and goods as well as limiting knowledge exchange with devastating consequences. Consequently, the geographic diversity of our student body and staff is dwindling, as the university is unable to recruit students and professionals from across Palestine and abroad due to these restrictions. Similarly, most endeavors for development are constantly being obstructed and delayed. Such confinement and restriction undermine the very roots of knowledge development and production, and diminish innovation and productivity as part of the colonial policies aimed at incapacitating our institutions and limiting their role, scope and outreach. 
     
  2. The current social and economic contexts present multi-layered challenges evidenced by the lack of social justice, gender inequality and limited access to quality education and employment opportunities for significant segments of the society.
     
  3. The shifting needs of society and transformations in the labor market require higher education institutions to review and revise their curricula in terms of content and delivery to ensure their graduates are equipped with relevant competencies and expert knowledge. In parallel, there are growing demands to measure the contribution and impact of higher education and its institutions on the knowledge economy and assert their public value.
     
  4. The rise in demand for higher education in Palestine due to population growth and youth bulge, and the increase in the number of higher education institutions present further planning challenges. Birzeit University has responded by increasing its student admission while ensuring continuous quality enhancement of its educational provisions and outcomes. At the same time, the university anticipates future growth and demand and continues to develop contemporary academic programs that empower its graduates to shape dynamic futures for themselves within and beyond traditional contexts.
     
  5. Funding for higher education in Palestine remains the lifeline for its survival and continuity especially that many of the global alternatives are not available within the Palestinian context. The situation is further escalated by diminishing government funding, limited contribution from philanthropic institutions and individuals and the economic and political crises ravaging the world and the region. Consequently, Birzeit University needs the agility to address such complexities by expanding its fundraising effort and diversifying funding streams to ensure the continuity of its entrepreneurial role in the Palestinian society.  
     
  6. Information technology development presents further challenges as Birzeit University continues to invest in financial and human resources to stay abreast of advanced technologies. At the same time, the university is constantly adapting to technology impact on pedagogical approaches, learning methodologies and assimilating to changes in outputs, contexts and mediums through which learning processes are exercised.
     
  7. The globalization of higher education and its premise of benchmarking outputs irrespective of their geographical and spatial contexts, and the ranking of higher education institutions performance against unified criteria are additional challenges facing higher education institutions. Birzeit University is committed to preserving its cultural identity and consolidating its national role and quality performance, while advancing its achievement in such standardized processes.
     
  8. Current changes in higher education landscape in Palestine, governance structures and regulatory frameworks may present new challenges for existing higher education institutions in preserving their independence and autonomy, sustaining their capacity for development and growth and enabling their direct linkages and engagement with the community.