Higher Education in Algeria
The education system in Algeria has gone through several interruptions over the last hundred years as political regime changes brought sweeping social reforms with each change of leadership. Great effort has been made since the 1970s to stabilize education in Algeria, where education is now mandatory for all children between the ages of 6 and 15 and public universities are free of charge to Algerian citizens and the literacy rate has surpassed 78%.
Today, Algeria has 26 universities in full operation plus 67 institutes of higher learning for vocational studies. Collectively there are approximately 1 million Algerian students enrolled in these education centers and about 80,000 international students. About 60% of Algeria’s university students are female and many of them take part in government and the judicial system upon graduation.
The oldest university in operation in Algeria today is the University of Algiers, which was founded in 1879 and maintains courses of study that include law, letters, medicine, and science. The remaining 25 universities and virtually all the other 67 schools were founded after Algeria claimed independence from France in 1962.
While the University of Algiers boasts the highest enrollment rate, the University of Mentouri and the University of Oran are quite popular, too. All three universities are in the northern part of the country, where the climate is most hospitable.
Most of the instruction offered in Algeria’s system of higher education is conducted in Arabic, the national language, but degree programs in medicine and science are often presented in English and French.
The predominance of the petroleum industry in Algeria makes it an ideal location to study the industry and related fields, such as geology, math, and various sciences.
The medical field is an important course of study in Algeria and the national movement to improve the health and well-being of its citizenry makes Algeria a promising place to study the effects of modernizing medicine in an ancient culture.
Algeria, like so many locales in Northern Africa, is an excellent choice for studying history and the antiquities, as well as the history of Arab culture and philosophy.
International Study Requirements
Foreign students hoping to study in Algeria must obtain a certificate issued by the Algerian Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research Cooperation Division. Details are described in the Ministerial Circular No. 47, effective May 5, 1986.
Life in an Arabic culture will probably seem quite restrictive to many foreign students, especially those coming from outside the Arab world. Harsh penalties exist for actions many students from other cultures take for granted. The cautious student will want to research the secular and religious traditions, customs, laws, and philosophies of the country before relocating to Algeria.