Since civil war broke out in 2014, Yemen’s universities have suffered dramatically from physical damages and a dwindling number of students. Programmes in the social sciences at many colleges have been particularly deserted.
The president of Sana’a University recently stopped new admissions to the history department at the university’s Faculty of Arts and Humanities. While that decision was later reversed, such closures have sparked a furore about the future of the social sciences in Yemeni universities. The authorities have already shut down a number of these programmes, citing “limited job opportunities for their graduates and low enrolment rates.”
Professors of education, arts and humanities, and the social sciences in the universities of Dhamar, Amran, Saada, Hodeidah, Ibb, and Aden have also had to halt admissions in some departments, after sharp drops in student enrolments.
Yemen’s modern higher-education institutions date back to the 1970s when Sana’a University and Aden University were established. By 2014, the number of public universities had increased to ten. Apart from community colleges, Yemen’s public higher-education institutions operate under the supervision of the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research.
Since 1994, Yemen’s private higher-education sector has rapidly grown. By 2014, there were 42 private universities in the country.
In that year, there were more than 310,000 students enrolled in Yemen’s public and private universities, according to the 2020 “Free to Think” report from the Scholars at Risk Network. (See a related article, “Attacks on Yemeni Higher Education Highlighted in ‘Free to Think’ Report”.)