The President notes in his message:
- Al-Quds University is "life itself" for more than 8000 undergraduate and graduate students who come from all over Palestine to study in Jerusalem. Though the different colleges were technically combined in 1984, the unification of bylaws and a single board of trustees did not happen until 1994. Since then, Al-Quds has been a dynamic catalyst for renewing the vitality of a people who want to leave behind the painful conditions of occupation and conflict. Its dedicated faculty and staff are committed to providing the kind of higher education that will empower individuals to assume meaningful control over their lives.
There is a web site at http://www.alquds.edu/
There is a wikipedia entry at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-Quds_University
(Sourced and largely quoted from http://www.alquds.edu/gen_info/index.php?page=overview)
" The idea of creating Al-Quds University, on what remained of Jerusalem, was revived in the 1950s. By that time, the West Bank had been annexed to Jordan, with Amman as capital. Jordan's efforts were naturally focused on establishing a university in Amman instead. Meanwhile, the Israeli occupation of east Jerusalem in 1967 affected and continues to affect drastic actions in the city. An Arab university in Jerusalem was again kept on the sidelines.
In the early 1970s, discussions restarted to establish a Palestinian university able to absorb the numbers of students matriculating from the West Bank and Gaza schools, who, due to the circumstances created by the occupation of 1967, could not easily seek higher education in the Arab world. Although there were calls for locating a university in Jerusalem, the prevailing school of thought was that establishing a university outside what had become Israeli-occupied east Jerusalem would prevent it from coming under Israel's control. Slowly, certain well-established educational institutions in the West Bank evolved into universities, including Birzeit and Al-Najjah, followed by other universities in Hebron and Bethlehem. Again, Jerusalem/Al-Quds was bypassed.
In the late 1970s, several independent colleges were established in Jerusalem and its suburbs, in response to specific needs. The first initiative came with the birth of the College of Daawa and Religious Principles in Beit-Hanina in 1978, to be followed by the Colleges of Medical Professions and Science and Technology in Al-Bireh and Abu-Dis respectively, in 1979. In 1982, the College of Hind Al-Husseini for Women (Faculty of Arts) and the Center for Islamic Archaeology were formed, both in the Sheikh Jarrah district.
A vision of a university in the capital, Jerusalem, began to materialize when action was taken in 1984 for the unification of these colleges. This nominal birth came about in response to a requirement by the Union of Arab Universities as a condition for recognition of their degrees. A coordinating committee was then formed from the various college boards of trustees. So, an evolving process of "confederacy" began in which the different colleges still maintained their legal separation. In 1994, the Faculty of Medicine was founded.
The official amalgamation of all colleges and faculties was fully realized in 1995. A "basic law" of the university was endorsed, followed by the honing of integrated bylaws, which were put into effect, thus clearing the way for the birth of Al-Quds University as a single institution. New centers and colleges were opened or amalgamated, and a full range of academic programs and educational plans were implemented to emphasize a positive concept of interaction with society. Al-Quds University, as an entity, had finally come into being.
If the birth of Al-Quds University was difficult, survival under stressful and demanding circumstances proved to be a very hard task. Its late creation among already established Palestinian universities, as well as conditions in the city, made the task an uphill battle, academically and financially. Its location presented additional difficulties, physically, politically, as well as legally. Al-Quds lacked seed money, an endowment fund or other stable financial resources. It was continually being threatened by court cases calling for its closure or abidance by Israeli laws. Its campuses and sites were not easily accessible to students and staff from Gaza and the rest of the West Bank. The University found itself in jeopardy of collapsing even as it began to take its first tentative steps.
However, in spite of these difficulties, and through the mammoth efforts and perseverance of those working at Al-Quds University, one obstacle after another were overcome, and a strong foundation for healthy growth was achieved. The academic strength of the various colleges was consolidated, and the way paved for developing an academically distinguished institution. New faculties and programs were instituted to meet the country's needs, new academic staff recruited, and various research initiatives launched. The student body simultaneously underwent an expansion process, with the number expected to rise to 6000, from the current 5250, within two years.
However... numerous obstacles and challenges remain. Topping the list are construction problems on all fronts. Part of the main campus at Abu-Dis (200 dunums straddling Jerusalem's expanded boundary line planned by Israel) is under threat of confiscation by the Israeli authorities, citing the construction of a new ring road as the reason.
In addition to court cases and appeals, this has prompted the hastening of a plan for the erection of a west wall to protect the property, and the construction of a multi-purpose sports complex on the existing football fields. Plans are also under way to build a student center, student dormitories, laboratories, additional lecture and conference halls, a network of internal roads, a water reservoir, and other sites.
Revamping older buildings and expansions of existing ones is also vital, be it in the Old City, Beit Hanina or Sheikh Jarrah. One vital target topping the list for University fundraising, however, is the building of a central library. An overall development plan costing $60 million dollars has been prepared.
The struggle to consolidate Al-Quds University continues. It is essential to pursue its development in order to enhance the city's diversity. Its further consolidation will mean Al-Quds's survival as a modern educational center of excellence, especially as an educational capital for Palestinians everywhere. Centered in a city that is important to millions worldwide, the University seeks to maintain its universal and inclusive vision."