Birzeit University

Birzeit University

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Birzeit University is a university
A university is an institution of higher education and research, which grants academic degrees in a variety of subjects. A university is an organisation that provides both undergraduate education and postgraduate education...

 located in Birzeit near Ramallah
Ramallah is a Palestinian city in the central West Bank located 10 kilometers north of Jerusalem, adjacent to al-Bireh. It currently serves as the de facto administrative capital of the Palestinian National Authority...

, Palestinian territories
Palestinian territories
The Palestinian territories comprise the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Since the Palestinian Declaration of Independence in 1988, the region is today recognized by three-quarters of the world's countries as the State of Palestine or simply Palestine, although this status is not recognized by the...

. BZU is among the foremost tertiary educational institutes in the Palestinian territories and has played a significant role in the Palestinian political dialogue.


The institution was originally founded in 1924 by Nabiha Nasir as an elementary school for girls from Birzeit and the surrounding villages. It was one of the first schools in the area. In 1930, it became a co-educational secondary school, and in 1932 was renamed Birzeit Higher School.

In 1942, the name was changed to Birzeit College to be in harmony with its educational secondary level. In 1953, a freshman higher education class was incorporated to Birzeit College, followed by a sophomore class in 1961.

The former university's president, Hanna Nasir, was deported by Israel in 1974 and only allowed to return with the beginning of the peace process in 1993.

Birzeit University is the first institution of higher education to be established in the Palestinian territories.

Organisation and administration

The University follows a semester system, with two four-month semesters beginning in Autumn and Spring, and a shorter two-month semester in Summer.

BZU's official language is Arabic, though many courses are taught in English.

Support for the University comes from numerous Palestinian, Arab and international institutions or foundations as well as from various individuals.

Academic profile

New graduate and undergraduate programs in information technology, engineering, sciences, social policy, economics and management are being developed. The University campus is being expanded. At the same time, Birzeit University's various community Centers and Institutes engage in policy-oriented research to assist in the economic, social and human development of the Palestinian territories.

The university offers numerous undergraduate and post-graduate degrees through its seven faculties: Arts, Commerce and Economics, Engineering, Sciences, Law and Public Administration, Information Technology and Graduate Studies.

The Graduate Studies programs offers post-graduate diplomas and masters degrees in the following fields: Contemporary Arabic Studies; Arabic Islamic History; Education; Sociology; International Studies; Democracy and Human Rights; Economics; Law; Community and Public Health; Water and Environmental Engineering; Water and Environmental Sciences ; Gender, Law and Development; Business Administration; Applied statistics; Scientific Computing; Urban Planning And Design; and Medical Laboratory Sciences.

The university also offers two High Diplomas in Primary Healthcare (Supervision and Training); and Gender, Law and Development. In addition to its academic programs, the University has a wide range of institutes, centers and programs that aim to develop and support the community-oriented programs that contributes to the achievement of sustainable development in the Palestinian territories.

Everyday life in the local town and Birzeit University were described by Irish journalist David Lynch in his book, A Divided Paradise: An Irishman in the Holy Land (New Island, Jan 2009). Lynch spent the summer of 2005 living in the town, and studying in the local university and wrote about his experiences there.

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