Higher education in Lebanon

The Higher Education System in Lebanon

Recent policy updates

Relevant projects and initiatives

TAMs, Seminars and other HERE activities

Relevant links


The Higher Education System in Lebanon

Lebanon's higher education, the oldest in the region, dates back to the 19th Century when the American University of Beirut (AUB) was founded in 1866 and the University of Saint Joseph (USJ) in 1875. The Lebanese University (LU) which is the only public university in the country was founded in 1951.

Most of the 49 higher education institutions currently in operation in Lebanon were legally established in the late nineties when the private sector flourished in a sudden and rapid expansion following the 15 year civil war in Lebanon between 1975 and 1990, which had a very damaging impact on the country’s higher education sector. The freedom and independence of Lebanese higher education is protected by the Constitution.

Tertiary education in Lebanon is divided into two categories; vocational tertiary education and general or non-vocational higher education.

The Ministry of Education and Higher Education (MEHE) is in charge of managing all tertiary education in the country. In 2002, a Directorate General of Higher Education (DGHE) was established to regulate the private higher education sector and supervise and coordinate all actions related to it. The DGHE is in charge of the 49 private higher education institutions currently in operation in the country, while the only state Lebanese University (LU) enjoys clear autonomy with its own system of governance.

The number of students enrolled in the Lebanese HEIs was over 200000 in 2017-2018, 36% of which are in the public LU and 64% are in the private sector.

The National Council for Scientific Research (CNRS) was established in 1962 under the authority of the Prime Minister with a clear administrative and financial autonomy. Some common paths are bridging the relationship between the CNRS and the Lebanese universities.

The research SCOPUS index shows that Lebanese higher education institutions had 28,243 publications up to December 2016. Six universities shared 93% of these publications and these are: American University of Beirut (56%), Lebanese University (14%), Saint Joseph University (9%), Lebanese American University (7%), University of Balamand (5%) and Beirut Arab University (3%). A third of these publications is produced by hospitals and medical centres.

With the large number of private higher education institutions applying different educational systems, the Lebanese higher education system is definitely diverse. Its two oldest universities, the American University of Beirut and the Saint Joseph University, that appliy respectively the American and European (French) systems are examples of this diversity..


Recent policy updates

In 2007 the national strategy for education was developed. As far as higher education is concerned, this strategy contained five axes:

  1. Public Higher Education
  2. Quality Assurance
  3. Higher Education law
  4. Structure of the Directorate General of Higher Education
  5. Research

In 2013 a Decree regulating the doctoral studies was issued. In April 2014, the Parliament adopted a new law for the regulation of the private higher education sector. Many reform principles aligned with international standards, and trends have been introduced in this law.

While waiting for the establishment of a Lebanese Quality Assurance Agency, some HEIs made the choice to be accredited by international agencies from Europe, the United States and Australia. The Tempus project TLQAA has developed a set of standards and trained experts at national level anticipating the creation of this long awaited national agency. The project has also published a short description of the Lebanese HE system. It contains a translation to English of the “Draft Regulatory Law on Higher Education”. A booklet on the “Design of an Evaluation Agency for Quality Assurance in Higher Education" has also been published in 3 languages. Download here.


Relevant projects and initiatives

Erasmus+ Credit Mobility

The Lebanese HEIs have been involved since 2015 in 181 Erasmus+ International Credit Mobility projects for a total budget of 6,086,000 Euros. Under these projects 1,736 mobility scholarships were available for students and staff (1,228 outgoing from Lebanon to Europe and 508 incoming from Europe to Lebanon). ICM projects of 2018 are not counted.

For further information, kindly refer to the dedicated webpage of Erasmus+ Lebanon .

Tempus/Erasmus+ Capacity Building projects

Between 2002 and 2013 58 Tempus projects were funded by the EU Tempus programme involving 22 Lebanese HEIs and 20 partners from the socio-economic sector. 16 Erasmus+ “Capacity Building for Higher Education (CBHE)” projects were selected following the calls for proposals between 2015 and 2018.

The “National” Erasmus+ CBHE projects are the following:


The “Regional” Erasmus+ Capacity building projects are the following:


ETF and the WB cards screen project

An attempt by the Ministry to start the process of establishing a Lebanese National Qualification Framework (LNQF) was taken in 2010. This came as a result of a 2-year project funded by the Italian government, led by the European Training Foundation (ETF) and implemented by a Lebanese Committee created at the Ministry. A draft LNQF based on 8 levels was proposed and was strongly inspired by the European QF. The draft was tested on few disciplines and needed further testing and adjustment.

During 2012 and 2013, the DGHE, in collaboration with the World Bank, conducted a Governance Screening and a benchmarking study on 5 main axes of university governance. 29 Lebanese Higher Education institutions took part in this exercise. The result of the first phase of this exercise can be found at: http://www.higher-edu.gov.lb/Studies/1313877_University_MENA_Book.pdf.


TAMs, Seminars and other HERE activities

By design, the Higher Education Reform Experts (HERE) main task is to contribute to higher education modernisation and reform in Lebanon. The purpose of the HERE team is to provide a pool of expertise in certain areas. Inspired by the seminars, conferences, study visits and especially discussions, working groups and technical assistance missions (TAMs), the Lebanese team collaborated in a lot of activities to coach and modernise the Lebanese Higher Educations Institutions, faculty members, and public institutions.

The HERE main activities are conducted along the main issues of the Lebanese higher education reform agenda. In addition to the collaboration with the National Erasmus+ Office (NEO) activities and the support of the General Directorate of Higher Education (GDHE), events such as for example the recent TAMs were the following:

The Lebanese HERE team collaborated in March 2017 with the Syrian NEO and its team to coach Directors and Presidents of Syrian HEIs on the European Higher Education Area, the Bologna Process and its tools. And in May 2017, some members of the Lebanese team participated in Jordan with the NEO and their HERE colleagues to the seminar organised on the Qualifications Framework.


Relevant links