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The seeds of discontent: examining youth perceptions of higher education in Syria

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This article examines young Syrians' perceptions of higher education after the 2001 reforms, which expanded access to higher education and permitted the establishment of private universities. Data come from in-depth interviews conducted with 22 Syrians residing in Damascus, aged 18–32 in 2009. Analysis indicates youth are critical of the higher education system broadly, and that their discontent stems from two sources: (1) the high level of state involvement in determining youth life paths when uncoupled from labour market security; and (2) the perceived unfairness in university admissions stemming from connections and new forms of privatisation. This youth discontent reflects a larger rejection of the state's role in the higher education admissions process. Given Syria's long-term commitment to a model of state-led development in the post-independence era, the failure of the Syrian state to successfully link expanded higher education to secure employment in the neo-liberal era has contributed to a de-legitimisation of the Syrian state as a whole in the eyes of its youth.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Graduate School of Education, Stanford University, USA,

Publication date: November 1, 2013

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