Higher Education in Lebanon

Tertiary education in Lebanon is composed of Technical and Vocational Institutes, University colleges, University Institutes and Universities. The Lebanese University is the only public institution. The Ministry of Education and Higher Education administrates the private and public sectors and Technical and Vocational Institutes are under the Directorate General of Technical and Vocational Education Directorate General of Higher Education has responsibility for University Colleges, University Institutes and Universities).

According to the World Bank database, gross enrollment rate of tertiary education (the percentage of students who go on to tertiary education within five years of completing secondary education) was 48% in 2013.

With university graduates making up 30% of people seeking a job, it is clear that the Higher Education system needs to play a key role in resolving the problem of youth unemployment in Lebanon. The key issue related to this sector is the mismatch between the highly skilled graduates that universities supply and the skills and professionals the labor market demands; these supply-demand failings in the labor market are increasingly preventing young people from finding a job in their country that fits their qualifications. In order to address these issues, universities can implement policies to: 1. Reform the curricula to better prepare graduates for their professional life 2. Improve career guidance structures and activities 3. Invest in relevant research, statistics and data gathering.

Lebanon has 41 nationally accredited universities, several of which are internationally recognized. The American University of Beirut (AUB) and the Université Saint-Joseph (USJ) were the first Anglophone and the first Francophone universities to open in Lebanon respectively. The majority of the forty-one universities, both public and private, largely operate in French or English, the two most widely used foreign languages in Lebanon.

At the English universities, students who have graduated from an American-style high school program enter at the freshman level to earn their baccalaureate equivalence from the Lebanese Ministry of Higher Education. This qualifies them to continue studying at the higher levels. Such students are required to have already taken the SAT I and the SAT II (Subjects Test) upon applying to college, in lieu of the official exams. On the other hand, students who have graduated from a school that follows the Lebanese educational system are directly admitted to the sophomore year. These students are still required to take the SAT I, but not the SAT II.

The highest-ranked universities in Lebanon include the American University of Beirut (AUB), the Lebanese American University (LAU), the Université Saint-Joseph (USJ), the Lebanese University (LU), the University of Balamand (UOB), the Université Saint-Esprit de Kaslik (USEK), Beirut Arab University (BAU), Haigazian University (HU), and the Notre Dame University - Louaize (NDU), QS Top Universities ranks AUB second in the Arab region (the only Lebanese university to rank among the region's top 10), and 268 globally. The THE (Times Higher Education) World University Rankings 2015-2016 place the American University of Beirut between 501 and 600 in its rankings, while the Center for World University Rankings places AUB at 682 in its global rankings; AUB is the only Lebanese university to make either of these lists.

Not all private higher educational institutions in Lebanon consider SAT I or SAT II for undergraduate admissions. The majority require a local entrance test prepared by these individual higher educational institutions. In most times, the entrance test is a placement test. The main requirement for undergraduate admissions for Lebanese students is the secondary-school leaving certificate called the Baccalaureate II or more recently the International Baccalaureate. However, students with a foreign nationality are admitted to private higher education institutions that pattern after the American system of higher education as Freshman students in case they do not have an equivalence to the Baccalaureate II. In case they obtain an equivalence from the Ministry of Education and higher Education, they are admitted as sophomore students. As for the Lebanese University, which is the only public higher educational institution in Lebanon, students are admitted to undergraduate programs based on their Baccalaureate II. A number of Faculties at the Lebanese University, such as the Faculty of Sciences require further testing for selectivity based on entrance tests (concours) prepared and administered by this faculty.