In the face of war and regional isolation, the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES) has constructed a network of universities on its territory in order to rival the knowledge-production institutions of the Syrian government. In its stead, it offers a tertiary education system on par with international standards, yet fundamentally influenced by its democratic values.
North and East Syria’s (NES) university system aims to provide the region’s youth with a better future, both politically and materially, as well as to seek recognition for and export the AANES’ political project by building bridges to international educational institutions. While the achievements in the seven years since NES’ first university opened its doors are remarkable, NES universities’ lack of broad international recognition is a stumbling block to the success of this project.
Over the past 8 months, RIC explored and immersed itself in the NES university system in order to publish the first English-language guide to tertiary education under the AANES. Our team observed a variety of classes offered at Rojava University, while also getting to know its administration, staff, students, and visiting professors. RIC also visited the al-Sharq and Kobane campuses and met with its administration in order to gain a deeper insight into the AANES university system. The resulting report is to serve the reader as an introduction to NES’ universities, while also highlighting the challenges this system faces and will face in the future.