With the currency in Lebanon losing more than 90% of its worth, seeking higher education abroad has become out of reach for many Lebanese university students abroad.
With their savings accounts in Lebanon blocked by the banks since the financial crisis in 2019 and the collapse of the Lebanese pound, their families have been unable to pay their children’s tuition fees.
The majority have been severely affected by the fragile economic situation, which was worsened by the Covid-19 pandemic and the Beirut port explosion.
Last year, a law was passed to help students abroad by allowing transfers of $10,000 from their bank accounts at a cheaper exchange rate.
However, transfers of money abroad remain heavily restricted and people are having to file lawsuits against banks on behalf of students studying abroad, while recurrent protests from families have taken place against Banque Du Liban.
However, the major problem lies with the loss of value in the Lebanese pound, forcing many of these Lebanese students to return home.
Those desperate to finish their education abroad are resorting to fundraising online, if they can make it, or return home.
This was the case with Lara Malaeb, an 18-year-old student who was accepted at a university in France, covering 75% of her tuition fees and leaving her with €700 (about $794) to cover each semester on top of her rent and other living expenses.
Lara’s father lost his restaurant business to the final crisis and the covid-19 pandemic, leaving him unable to fund the rest of his daughter’s tuition fees and expenses.
With the lockdown during the Covid-19 pandemic in France, Lara was unable to find a job that would aid her with covering her fees. She was left with only one decision to make.
“It was such a difficult decision to make, return to Lebanon knowing that I have very minimal opportunities,” Lara told 961News.
Lara’s case is similar to many other Lebanese students. With their universities abroad restricting them access for failing to pay, they are having to leave behind a path to a better future and return home.
As a last resort, some Lebanese students have resorted to campaigning online for funds.
Simon Al Ayyas, a student in the United Kingdom, is one of them. He had to create a GoFundMe page to collect the needed amount of money that would enable him to continue his studies.
“I lost my job because of Covid-19 and my family in Lebanon were fighting the bank to allow the amount of money to be sent in dollars, and my University notified me that I had to pay as soon as possible otherwise I was restricted from continuing the next semester,” Al Ayyas told 961News.
All of these factors put pressure on Al Ayyas and his only way out was to try his luck in an online funding page.
He promoted it on social media with the support of his friends and family members.
“My cousin had told me about someone who successfully managed to collect donations to fund his university tuition and I thought I would give it a try,” he told us.
Al Ayyas eventually managed to collect the needed amount to continue his degree in the United Kingdom.
Many are aware that this is not a prolonged solution for people looking to study abroad or who are already studying abroad.
Lebanon’s crisis has long crossed its geographic borders to wreck the lives of its youth abroad, adding to the uncertainty of their future and that of the country.
Lebanon has long relied on its educated generations and its expats succeeding abroad to fuel its economy.