Birzeit University students will take online classes this fall amid coronavirus

After monitoring the Coronavirus spread in Palestine and its impact, the university decided to move to online teaching during the first semester of the new academic year 2020/21 to limit exposure to the disease among members of the Birzeit University community. Enrolled students enrolled in the university’s nine faculties will meet their academic requirements remotely. Students will attend only practical courses and labs on campus for face-to-face instruction.

On the occasion of the official opening of the 2020/21 academic year, Birzeit University president Abdullatif Abuhjileh addressed the university’s community in a message published online. “We usually witness the beginnings of Birzeit University’s academic years with crowds of excited students and faculty,” he wrote. “This year, however, we start part of our instruction remotely. But the energizing talents, continuous dialogues, and unity of our community will make the challenges surmountable.”

Even though Birzeit University, like many other universities, faces numerous financial challenges that are caused and exacerbated by the coronavirus that has overtaken the world by storm, President Abuhjileh projected confidence. He assured that the spirit of mutual support and unity, as well as the creative power of Birzeit’s community, will help the university face the unpredictable future and implement the necessary changes.

Birzeit University continues to move forward with providing the best education possible. During the second semester and the summer terms of the 2019/20 academic year, the university succeeded in embracing online learning.

This upcoming academic year, the university will be using open-source programs such as Moodle, BigBlueButton, and Zoom for online teaching and learning. These programs provide solutions that address digital inequalities among students, as they are available free of charge and provide easy access for all students and faculty members.

For new students, taking their courses online via distance learning can be challenging. However, as Khalid Swaileh, the university’s vice president for academic affairs, pointed out, the university is offering new, attractive, and diverse programs in the 2020/21 academic year. For example, Swaileh explained, the new translation program at the Faculty of Art will affect the development not only of written language and literature but also of society in general.

Also, the Faculty of Law and Public Administration has launched a new undergraduate program in international relations, Swaileh highlighted, which aims to equip students with the knowledge and skills needed to explore and analyze global systems.

Swaileh furthermore drew attention to new graduate programs offered for master’s level students, which include a course in Oncology Nursing at the Faculty of Pharmacy, Nursing and Health Professions. He affirmed the program’s importance in preparing specialized, committed nurses who can provide holistic and advanced care for patients with cancer.

Moreover, a new interdisciplinary graduate program in International Migration and Refugee Studies has started at the university’s Ibrahim Abu Lughod Institute for International Studies. Swaileh explained that the program will provide students with comprehensive knowledge and analytical skills, thereby responding to the growing demand for understanding globalization, migration flow, and the integration of immigrants and refugees into societies.

Birzeit University has intensified its efforts to provide scholarships and financial aid to its students, as the coronavirus crisis has caused financial hardship for many students. So far, the university has provided 1,000 full and partial scholarships to students in need, some of which were offered to new students. They include 50 scholarships for students who live in the Jerusalem areas and the Jordan Valley and 20 scholarships for those who live in Masafer Yatta, a collection of hamlets in the Hebron Governorate, as they are particularly exposed to the ongoing Israeli Violations of fundamental human rights. During this semester, more scholarships will offered to students.