The number of students in private universities reached 125,000 in the school year 2016-2017, registering a 43 percent increase in ten years, according to the Center for Educational Research and Development (CERD).
The number of Lebanese University (LU) students registered only increased by three percent in ten years, reaching 75,000 last year.
There are currently 49 private universities and colleges, increasing from 38 in 2009. There are an additional 50 branches spread across the country, excluding the LU and its branches.
According to Ahmad Jammal, Director General of Higher Education at the Ministry of Education and Higher Education (MoEHE), the market is saturated with universities.
Jammal said that around 80 percent of the students are in ten universities, and the remaining 20 percent are spread across 40 universities. "This means that each university outside the top 10 encompasses less than 500 students on average, which is not feasible" he said. Universities should have at least 3,000 students to survive.
The Business Administration and Law specialty represents around 33 percent of bachelor's degree students, Engineering 23 percent, Literature and Arts 13 percent, Health and Medicine ten percent, IT four percent, and Mathematics and Natural Sciences four percent.
Graduates resuming Master's degrees reached 17,000 last year. More than 42 percent of these graduates are studying Business Administration, and 16 percent are studying Engineering.
The bulk of LU students are in the Faculty of Literature and Humanities (18,500), followed by the Faculty of Law and Political Sciences (9,950), and then Faculty of Business Administration and Economy (7,500).
Foreign students represent around 12 percent of the total number of students in private universities. "We are not witnessing an increase in the number of foreign students, which encourages investors to expand," Jammal said. The regional instability is preventing foreign students from coming.
Jammal said that the number of general education students is expected to grow at a slower pace. It has increased by 16 percent in the last ten years, reaching 1.06 million last year, according to CERD.
Jammal said that one of the solutions is merging university branches in the regions and building dorms for students to attract applications.