Unhappiness over postgraduate application process

Algerian campuses are simmering and risk a troubled year ahead as unhappiness continues over the administration of the recent access competitions which are required for admission to masters and doctoral degrees.

Criticism and protest have accompanied the process all the way from registration to the announcement of results.

In remote cities, access to the masters and doctoral degree is almost guaranteed owing to the lower number of students applying, but this is not the case for large cities where demand exceeds supply, hence the protests and even reports of suicide attempts.

Students say there were glitches in the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research’s competition registration process – known as Progress – which prevented some of them from enrolling for the competition.

In a public statement the ministry said the system seeks to restore "justice and transparency" and had facilitated the application of 283,585 students for the masters cycle, based on the requirement that each student had the right to choose four specialties.

According to the ministry, the rejected applications were the result of poorly completed registration forms. In some cases, students chose only one specialty instead of four, it said.

While the authorities have defended the process, the National Council of Higher Education Teachers (CNES) and the General Union of Free Students have multiplied calls to urge the ministry to review its approach.

CNES sent a letter to the ministry asking it to review the conditions of access to the PhD programme, considering that repetitive errors in the system affect the credibility of the degree at an international level. CNES also accused the ministry of including questions in the access competitions that were aimed at secondary and middle school levels.

In addition, it said the announcement of the results did not include the scores attained by the successful candidates, which casts suspicion on the credibility of the results.

On social media networks, CNES published examples of some of the “scandals” that arose during these competitions, including cases where the number of positions offered by institutions was exactly equal to the number of applicants. In other cases, successful candidates were shown to have received averages of zero.

According to the National Union of Free Students (UELF) member Fateh Sribli, "universities are threatened with an explosion because of the accumulation of many problems, especially with regard to access to the masters and doctorate."