Although medical degrees from Al-Quds receive recognition, degrees in social work and education continue to be denied.
“In an effort to bring about the closure of the Jerusalem campus, a political directive was given not to recognize degrees granted by the main campus in Abu Dis. As a result, most Al-Quds graduates who are Israeli residents are denied the possibility of working in Israel.”
— Al-Quds University attorney Shlomo Lecker
The Social Affairs Ministry is dragging its feet on recognizing hundreds of Palestinian social workers who graduated from Al-Quds University, in order to officially avoid recognizing the university.
The Jerusalem municipality says the city has a shortage of Arabic-speaking social workers and the Al-Quds graduates could help fill the gap. But the Social Affairs Ministry denies that any shortage exists.
For years, state agencies, led by the Prime Minister’s Office, have tried to push Al-Quds out of Jerusalem. Most of the university’s facilities are actually in Abu Dis, which lies just outside Jerusalem’s municipal borders in the West Bank. But the university still maintains some facilities inside Jerusalem.
Unlike Israeli universities, Al-Quds does not fall under the auspices of Israel’s Council for Higher Education, and it operates as a foreign university. But it cannot receive Israeli recognition as a foreign university the way universities in the West Bank do, because of its location in Jerusalem, which Israel considers its capital and its sovereign territory.
Attorney Shlomo Lecker, who has been representing the university and its graduates, waged lengthy legal battles with the Health and Education ministries that have ended under pressure from the High Court of Justice, recognizing the degrees of doctors and various paramedical professionals from Al-Quds. In exchange, the university promised that all its medical studies would take place outside its Jerusalem facilities. On average, the university’s graduates have passed the Health Ministry’s licensing exams with higher marks than have graduates of other foreign universities.
But hundreds of Al-Quds graduates in social work have had trouble getting hired by the Jerusalem municipality or private agencies over the last few years because the Social Affairs and Education ministries refuse to recognize their degrees.