Private universities in Yemen are charging tuition in dollars and creating their own currency exchange rates, squeezing many students out of education.
“We cannot pay such sums of money; we may drop out,” said Salah Al-Wasi’i, 20, a pharmacy student at the University of Science and Technology in Taiz, a city on the front lines of Yemen’s civil war. “The fees have burdened students and families. Taiz is under siege and the coronavirus crisis has affected job opportunities available to us and our families.”
The conflict that started in 2014 continues between the Iran-backed Houthi movement and a coalition led by Saudi Arabia.
Al-Wasi’i’s tuition fees amount to about $2,500, of which he has paid only $250 so far. “I used to rely on a monthly sum I received from abroad,” he said. “But things got worse and the amount was cut off.” He is trying to find a job so he can pay his tuition in installments. As in many other Arab countries, tuition varies according to the subject of study. The average tuition fees at private universities are $750 for humanities and administration faculties; $4,000 for dentistry; $2,550 for pharmacy; $1,800 for medical laboratories; and $1,550 for information technology. “according to students”.
Central Bank Rates
In 2014, the Central Bank of Sanaa set the price of the dollar at 250 Yemeni rials, and it stayed at that rate until 2017. After the central bank moved to Aden, the power of the rial against the dollar declined, however, and most private universities are charging 400 to 500 rials.
The dollar exchange rate varies from one city to another. Private universities in Taiz set the exchange rate at 400 rials for a dollar, but the universities of Aden and Hadramout set the rate at 500 rials.
Some private universities require students in Aden to pay in dollars, and don’t accept rials at all. That forces students to resort to the black market, which has an exchange rate of 820 rials per dollar.