Ministry promises improvements to LMD system

Twelve years after its initial adoption in 2004, the licence-master-doctorate, or LMD, degree structure continues to be subjected to a series of criticisms from sections of the academic community and parts of society. While it remains in place as a key component of higher education in the country, the government is increasingly focused on improving its quality and implementation.

While no-one seems satisfied with its achievements so far – if the views echoed in the local press are anything to go by – paradoxically, hundreds of thousands of students have graduated from the system and have joined professional life either in Algeria or abroad.

Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research Professor Tahar Hadjar said while the LMD system was not perfect and his ministry was “fully aware of its weaknesses”, the government was also “completely and faithfully committed to improving it constantly in order to meet all its objectives”.

Hadjar said the LMD was an opportunity for universities to play a determining role in society.

One of the main objectives of the current reforms is to provide high education quality and facilitate the quicker integration of students into the labour market. The reforms also aim to respond to the needs of the economic sector in its search for competitiveness, performance and creativity.

Greater cooperation with industry

According to Hamid Temmar, economics professor and former minister of industry, the flexibility offered by the LMD should facilitate greater cooperation between different partners at universities, laboratories and research enterprises. In his view, the aims of the LMD should be to “safeguard local industrial bases from economic decline and respond to the aims of the re-industrialisation policy”.

However, Abdellah Madani, a finance professor at Baji Mokhtar University, argued that the economic and social climate worked against the introduction of the new system.

“Based on a classic approach, the present system privileges direct state intervention in the relation between the university as a research institution and the enterprises as partners in wealth creation,” he said.

According to Madani’s colleague, Professor Naji Khaoua, the LMD is a product of political considerations rather than economic and social conditions.

“It is not suited to our social and economic context,” he said. “More importantly, before its adoption, the system was not subjected to debate among the whole higher education community."

Student views

Students are equally critical. Ahmed Talbi, who is enrolled in the faculty of political sciences at the University of Algiers, said Algerian universities were distributing degrees rather than nurturing excellent and competent graduates.

“The problem is that students tend to be more concerned with how to obtain their degrees than the competencies required for them to operate in their professional life,” he said.

Another student, Salah Mebarki from the faculty of sociology at Algiers University, said the system had failed and the Algerian university had been converted into a factory that “delivers degrees rather than forms competencies".

Confronted by growing criticisms of the LMD system, the higher education ministry organised a national conference earlier this year to assess the system. Approximately 800 participants from several sectors took part in workshops on topics related to pedagogy, the relations of universities with the economic sector, and governance.

After heated debate, participants agreed that LMD required better implementation and that scientific research needed to be more finely attuned to the economic and industrial development of the country.

Professor Mohamed Mezghiche from the University of Bouira argued that the LMD system had not failed but it required greater rigour and responsibility in its implementation.

Hadjar said that in spite of weaknesses Algerian universities had been offering free education to students regardless of their social and economic status in accordance with the principles of the democratisation of education enshrined in the Algerian Constitution.

Today, over 1,6 million students are enrolled at different universities throughout the country and the state is committed to educating each student, providing scholarships, housing and transport, said Hadjar.