Hassana Saqbani / Syrian journalist
Hoda, a 25 year old, stands with signs of despair on her pale face, breathless, holding a bunch of papers in the lobby of the Faculty of Education. She had submitted the outline of her master’s thesis four times in a row to her supervising professor, and it was rejected. “There is no convincing reason, it is a deliberate disruption…other students submit their thesis, and they are accepted even if they are not good researchers,” she tells her classmate who responds that “the solution is at the bookstores.” Huda did not understand what her classmate meant, until he revealed that he had purchased his master’s thesis from one of the bookstores spread among the faculties buildings of Damascus University, that offer research to students and even professors in exchange for money, in a popular trade that has been expanding for years.
Huda’s classmate justified the purchase of his research thesis saying that he received an order to enlist for military service, which forced him to quickly hand over his thesis. Then, he advised her to contact “Imad M.”, who maintains connections with research specialists as well with thesis supervisors. According to him, it won’t take more than a couple of months without any problems.
“Imad M.”, a young man in his thirties, is known among the students of the Faculty of Education at Damascus University. He used to hang out at the faculty’s coffee shop to secure “clients” among students enrolled in the master’s program. He has been doing this work for years without reservations or even the slightest secrecy.
In our meeting with him, Imad explains the nature of his mission: “I am a link between the bookstore and the student who wants to buy scientific research, whether it is for master’s or doctoral research. I charge 30-percent of the value of the agreed amount to complete the thesis.” The young man did not hesitate to contact a bookstore owner to schedule a meeting for us to discuss the details.
Our meeting was scheduled at two o’clock in the afternoon, in Baramka, a Damascus Capital Center area, during a time of completely congested traffic. There, university buildings of different specialties are stacked along the street as well as student bookstores that sell stationery and university lectures, where they also engage in selling master’s and doctoral theses for students.
“It’s different for us”
On a side street, in one of the buildings’ basements, nothing points to the existence of a bookstore, not even a sign, but it is the most popular bookstore for the Faculty of Education’s students who aim to purchase master’s and doctorate’s dissertations. The address we got over the phone was our only guidance, only to find ourselves in a rectangular room with a high ceiling like a storeroom. The bookstore itself is divided into three sections, which are smaller offices, where the visitor can hardly stand. The smell of dust lingering between the books and the files stacked above shelves and tables filled the place.
M.S., a sixty-year-old man wearing thick glasses, greeted us with a welcoming smile and a scrutinizing look before his phone rang to answer in a faint voice: “The modifications are finalized but you must bring the last batch.” He hangs up and asks us what we need..
Acting in disguise as a master’s student at the Faculty of Education, our question was about the possibility of completing research that was accepted by Professor Musharraf. “We have researchers who specialize in writing masters and doctoral dissertations for each department of the Faculty of Education,” he replied, pointing with his hand to the files above the wooden shelves that filled the wall: “We have completed all these theses.”
While he was showing the presentations accompanying the completion of the research, he added: “The bookstore specializes in the Faculty of Education’s research areas, and it is committed to ensuring that the topic is completely new and not as some of those who work in this profession do, cut and paste from the Internet with a few simple changes.” He reiterates: “It’s different for us.” According to M.S.’s explanations, the cost of research depends on its nature, how difficult it is, and on the amount of time it takes to be completed.
Do you have time to read?
At a late hour the next evening, our appointment was with the person who would write the dissertation. A slender man of medium stature, the wrinkles that appeared on his forehead suggested that he was over forty years old. He seemed cautious, trying to emphasize the confidentiality of the matter and inquiring more precisely about the details of our request. He held up the pen and drew lines on the cover in front of him and explained at length the steps of the task: “just prepare the title. After being approved by the supervisor, I prepare the “seminar” (the preliminary outline of the research), and when approved, it becomes technical, and I give you the first chapter, then the second, and so on… If the supervising professor requests changes, you will return to the bookstore for changes.”
When asked if the matter would be discovered by professor Musharraf, he replied: “I will explain to you the methodology of work and you will follow up with professor Musharraf, and prior to the thesis discussion, we will have an explanation session so that you do not get embarrassed in front of the professors. You need to have time to read only.” Then he asked in a joking tone and with a smile: “Don’t you have time to read?”
He then added “the approximate cost of this research is SYP 150,000 (about USD 300), half the amount at the beginning and the second half upon delivery, and we will need three months to finish it.”
After making inquiries at more than a dozen bookstores in the Baramka neighborhood, where most of the bookstores are located, only one bookstore’s owner replied: “we don’t write master’s dissertations, it’s forbidden by law.” Other than that, all the bookstores we visited treated the matter as if it were a normal thing, and they all had a competent person to do the job.
Most of the 18 faculties of Damascus University are concentrated in the Baramka area community, which includes the university presidency building, the central administration buildings, and some faculties and institutes. The university presidency building faces both the Faculty of Law and the Faculty of Sharia.
Along the road between the Syrian news agency, SANA and Abdul Rahman al-Dakhil Square, known as the “Customs Square,” the Faculty of Education, the Faculty of Fine Arts, the Faculty of Economics, the Faculty of Science, the Faculty of Tourism, the Faculty of Civil Engineering, and the Faculty of Architecture are all spread around. In the Mezzeh area, there is the Faculty of Arts and Humanities, the Faculty of Human Medicine, the Faculty of Dentistry, the Faculty of Pharmacy, and the Faculty of Media. The rest of the faculties are scattered on the road to Damascus International Airport. As for the Faculty of Mechanical and Electrical Engineering and the Faculty of Informatics Engineering, and the Faculty of Political Science, they are in the Tal area.
Bookstore owners circumvent the law in many ways in order to sell scientific research, hanging promotional banners on which you can read “printing scientific dissertations, typesetting and formatting,” and not selling, or preparing, thus framing the matter as a legitimate activity and an attraction point for students to enter the bookstore, says “Randa” (pseudonym, a 27-years-old), who worked in a bookstore for five years and is now a lecturer at the Faculty of Education, conducting research on vocational education curricula.
Randa asserts that the number of students who consult with bookstores to agree on purchasing master’s and doctorate’s dissertations is “substantial,” for the bookstore she worked for, which she described as “small-scale,” was completing about thirty graduation projects, seven master’s dissertations, however, fewer doctoral theses per academic year. Trying to put on a serious face, and raising the tone of her voice, Randa added: “I felt resentful when the students used to negotiate the payment for the thesis as if they were negotiating the price of a piece of clothing. The bookstore’s income relied on writing research and the bookstore was taking care of everything from the beginning to the end.”
Randa explains that university professors were aware that some students were purchasing graduation projects, but the matter was hard to prove. “The bookstore I worked for was relying on highly experienced people, and the research was executed professionally, and students often had good grades. If the supervising professor was merely to see the research in its final phase – which is usually the case – the matter would never be uncovered.”
It is clear from the testimonies of bookstores’ workers that their clients are not only students but there are also some university professors who seek them to conduct academic research that is later published in specialized journals. When we asked a bookstore owner about the possibility of being discovered, he answered reassuringly with a small smile on the lips, while wiping the glass on his eyeglasses: ” I do research on behalf of half of the professors in the Faculty of Education.” And he showed us examples of two studies he said he had conducted on behalf of a professor.
The owner of the bookstore added in what appeared to be a promotional message: “Choose the supervising professor and I will talk to him so he does not probe too much. If the professor rejects the research, you will be refunded the amount paid.”
There are no provisions in the Syrian General Law that punish the purchase of scientific research, which means that the most important deterrence to the spread of this phenomenon is absent, according to Judge Maher al-Olabi, President of the First Court of Appeal. “The situation here is that a person is asked to complete the dissertation for another party in exchange for a wage, and the latter attributes it to him,” the judge says. “It is certain that the actual researcher does not sign a contract between him and the student, but rather the matter falls within the framework of hidden agreements that are made by mutual consent between the parties. In such cases, the matter is also not subject to the law on the protection of intellectual property, because the research is not registered with the Ministry of Culture and is not protected, so the bookstore is free of liability and is not punished by any legal clause.”
The bookstores ‘activities seem to fall within the loopholes that are not addressed by the Syrian General Law and are overlooked by the Universities Regulation Law. There are no provisions in the Syrian General Law that punish the sale of scientific research, and “it is done outside the university campus. Therefore, it is not subject to the Universities Regulation Law and we have no authority over it.”
While denying his office’s knowledge about any such case, the vice president of Damascus University for Scientific Research Affairs and Postgraduate Studies, Professor Essam Khoury, explained that there are penalties in the Syrian Universities Regulation Law that cover purchasing academic research, however, they pertain to the students involved in such activity and not in this case to the bookstores’ owners. “In such cases, anyone found to be involved in the process of purchasing academic dissertations or in plagiarism is subject to the law, and his/her punishment may reach the point of dismissal from the university and barring him/her from practicing the profession again,” Khoury said.
There are eight public universities in Syria: they are the universities of Damascus, Aleppo, Tishreen, Baath, Euphrates, Hama, Tartus, and the Syrian Virtual University. The number of their students exceeds 693,000 students, while the number of private universities is 22 universities spread across various governorates, with an estimated number of 34,000 students.
The specter of compulsory service
At the “President Bridge” checkpoint, which is a connecting point between the areas of Baramka and Abu Rummaneh, the public transport bus stands waiting its turn in the long queue that is teeming with private and public vehicles. Passengers are getting ready to show personal IDs while young men are engaging in preparing papers related to the postponement of mandatory service.
As soon as the bus arrives, the soldier opens the door, checking the ID cards, and then catches a sight of a young man in his twenties sitting in the right seat. With a sharp tone, he asks him about the military service postponement papers. The latter shows him the military notebook and says, “postponement due to studies.”
Rami, a graduate of the Faculty of Agricultural Engineering at Damascus University, had only two options, either to pursue postgraduate studies or to travel abroad to avoid being forced to enroll for military compulsory service. “The war in the country has imposed choices that are not what I aspire to, I cannot now travel and leave my family, and yet, I have no desire to pursue postgraduate studies,” he said.
In Syria, young men are required to enroll in military service when they reach the age of 18. The duration of service before the civil war was from one and a half to two years, but after 2011, it was extended for several years without a set time for demobilization. According to Article (10) of the Military Service Law, university students may postpone military service to pursue their studies, so that the maximum age for postponement is 27 years for diploma students, 29 years for master’s students, and 32 years for doctorate students in any discipline. Therefore, many young Syrians choose to pursue their postgraduate studies to avoid being enrolled in military service.
Jamal is an employee at an educational center in Damascus. Last year, he enrolled in postgraduate studies at the Faculty of Psychology despite not wanting to do so. “I am now trying to complete my master’s degree in two years and then I will do my PhD if I can. In doing so, I can keep away the specter of compulsory service for five years given the war’s circumstances in the country,” he said.
According to the results of the postgraduate studies admission eligibility and of the qualification for a Masters and the Educational Diploma Qualification for the academic year 2018-2019 for Syrian public universities, which was published on the Ministry of Higher Education’s official website, the number of admitted postgraduate students for that academic year reached 4,700 students in literary faculties, and the total number was confirmed by an official source at the university presidency.
As for the medical specialties, the Dean of the Faculty of Human Medicine at Damascus University, Nabough al-Awa, explained that the number of postgraduate students currently is about 2,000 students spread among all medical specialties for all academic years, compared to only 183 university professors.
The percentage of males applying for postgraduate studies is at a minimum of 50- percent in most faculties except for the medical specialties, while the percentage rises to exceed 70-percent in some faculties such as civil engineering, mechanical and electrical engineering, and law and agriculture, although the ratio of males in Syria according to the last census in 2018 (according to an employee of the Syrian Commission for Family Affairs) does not exceed 30-percent of the general population in the country.
Leniency with students
Kamal, a 29-year-old who holds a master’s degree from the Faculty of Mass Communication at Damascus University, says that postponing military service by continuing to study has become common among students, and more commonly, he says, is that the students turn to bookstores to do research on their behalf. “When I finished my master’s thesis, a friend asked me how much I paid for the thesis and if he could get in touch with the same person. One time, a friend called me asking to help him find someone to do the master’s thesis on his behalf due to time pressure and ahead of his upcoming military conscription.”
Kamal revealed that another friend of his class told him that his thesis was being completed by a bookstore worker. “The time given by the Military Recruitment Division to complete the master or doctorate thesis is not enough, and that pushes us to turn to bookstores owners. Also, the lack of teachers at the universities and the absence of follow-up and supervision facilitate the matter,” he explained.
A university professor at the Faculty of Education at Damascus University, said: “the war has greatly affected the educational system. The decisions of the Regional Command of the Baath Party to permit leniency with students due to the current circumstances have created a real educational crisis. If I had known that my doctorate degree in Syria would drop to such a low level, I would not have pursued postgraduate studies.” His tone of voice rises: “The postgraduate studies program has provided livelihood to many beneficiaries, including university professors, students, and bookstores.”
Maher. S., a 28-year-old young man, holds a master’s degree from the Faculty of Commerce at Damascus University and has worked as a “bookstore researcher” for two years. He used to conduct research in exchange for fifty thousand liras (approximately a USD 100) per project. “The story started when I helped a friend for a small financial fee due to expenses and the lack of any financial resource and employment opportunities,” he said. “Most of the students for whom I conducted research applied to postgraduate studies to postpone compulsory military service. The war situation pushed them to do so, moreover, they did not even possess any knowledge about the methodology of scientific research.”
The number of faculty staff at Damascus University is 3500 university professors, a figure that is constantly changing due to the war, according to the vice president for Scientific Affairs. There is a shortage of staff at Damascus University as a 20-percent of them have left in the past eight years.
One faculty member at the Faculty of Education, after he repeatedly refused to answer the questions of this report’s author, agreed finally to speak on the condition of anonymity. He said: “I have often called for the suspension of the postgraduate studies program in all meetings as the corruption is spreading at every stage.” “It’s beyond reason, either the research is copy and paste, or the student pays money for someone to do complete his/her research thesis or bribes the supervising professor. “This is shameful for an academic institution like Damascus University, and even more shameful is the scale of bribery and corruption among the university professors themselves.” The professor added: “I personally say to the student: steal the research but at least read it, so you can provide answers when I ask you!”
Randa, a lecturer at the Faculty of Education, recounts her own experience with “corruption” at the university, saying that “some professors do not sign a paper or accept a research thesis except for a fee, and there is a phrase that became famous attributed to one professor: “go for what pays more and weighs less,” noting that the professor in question is one of a dozen of others present in all academic departments.
Students writing on behalf of their professors
At eight o’clock in the morning, Firas (an alias name), a 32-year-old man, begins his long working day at a medical center owned by a one of the university professors. Firas graduated from the Faculty of Dentistry to later pursue postgraduate studies in periodontics. It was a good job opportunity for a young graduate as he describes: “however, it was frustrating that my professor asked me to write articles and papers on his behalf, but to be published in his name.”
The promotion of university professors from the rank of lecturer to an assistant professor and then to a professor requires them to publish research and peer-reviewed articles in specialized periodicals. It is currently based on a point-based index for academic advancement in Syrian universities, with published research and books, with supervision of master’s and doctoral students playing a key role.
The university does not require a specific international ranking for these periodicals, but varies its ranking system between weak, medium and good, “so there are many who hold the rank of lecturer equivalent to the rank of professor although they do not have any research published in international journals considered reputable in scientific circles, and their scientific output remains limited to academic articles published in periodicals that are recognized only by Syrian universities,” Firas explained.
Alaa, a 27-year-old master’s student, has a similar experience: “at the end of the lecture, the professor waved his hand pointing to five students, including myself, asking us to meet him in his office. When we entered, he asked us to sit down, took a deep breath and praised our diligence, then introduced the topic of his research and distributed the main modules to each of us. The students and I were asking ourselves what consequences we would face if we refused his request.” G.K., a university professor at the Faculty of Education, confirms what Alaa recounted: “this is normal for some, there are professors who use students to write research on their behalf. Imagine a student you supervise doing the research for you!”
Professors no longer have the incentive to write research, and are careless about any scientific ranking thanks to their low salaries. Everyone wants to leave public universities and go work in private universities instead because of the wage differences. However, the university does not accept the resignation of faculty members (…) The war contributed to the decline of the economic situation, in addition to the sanctions imposed on the country. Scientific research needs tools, studies, and financial support, and this is not available.
The owner of a bookstore in the Baramka area named two professors who bought research papers from his bookstore in order to submit them to the university so that “they can be promoted to a higher rank,” adding, “if professors themselves are buying research papers, then students should not be afraid of exposure if the bookstore completes research on their behalf.”
A source in charge of running a department at Damascus University told the author of this report that there are many cases of research theft, where a university professor steals a completed scientific research paper and passes it off to the university as one’s own or with some changes in the title and introduction. This doesn’t only happen in theoretical faculties but also in scientific faculties. “A few months ago, Professor A. Sh. at the Faculty of Dentistry was referred to the Disciplinary Committee of the of the University Presidency for submitting stolen research and was penalized by postponing his promotion.”
Warning and blaming
Many of the professors and students we met agree that the Committees on Accountability and Discipline can do nothing against the theft, bribery and harassment crimes, and they are content with minor administrative penalties that do not ensure deterrence. “If it is proved that a professor has plagiarized a research project, he is referred to the disciplinary committee and is subject to the penalties stipulated in the Universities Regulation Law. Likewise, university professors are referred to court in case they are accused of bribery, harassment, or forgery,” says Professor Essam Khoury.
Article 108 of the Universities Regulation Law imposes a set of disciplinary penalties against faculty members in case of involvement in research plagiarism or receiving bribes, that is approved by the Disciplinary Board. They range from warning, censure, censure with a delay of promotion for two years at most, disciplinary transfer outside the university (following a decision of the Prime Minister), the penalty of cutting off sabbatical compensation, and the penalty of dismissal or expulsion. According to Article 109, “The disciplinary case shall terminate with the resignation of the faculty member, and the disciplinary action shall have no effect on the criminal and civil proceedings arising from the same incident.”
Rashad Murad, a university professor at the Faculty of Dentistry said: “professors no longer have the incentive to write research and are careless about any scientific ranking thanks to their low salaries. Everyone wants to leave public universities and go work in private universities instead because of the wage differences. However, the university does not accept the resignation of faculty members (…) The war contributed to the decline of the economic situation, in addition to the sanctions imposed on the country. Scientific research needs tools, studies, and financial support, and this is not available. Unfortunately, Damascus University is no longer the reputable university it used to be.”
In Syrian public universities, the PhD holder receives a monthly salary of between SYP 50,000 and 70,000 (approximately between USD 100,000 and 140,000), while he/she receives SYP 10,000 Syrian pounds (approximately USD 20) for supervising a master’s or doctoral thesis, however, the money is paid after several months. Whereas in private universities, a professor’s salary ranges from SYP 400,000 (USD 800) to SYP 1 million (USD 2,000).
Reem, a twenty-year-old girl (pseudonym) recalls what happened to her when she was in her first year at the French Department of the Faculty of Arts. With her round childish face, her features changed and her voice began to tremble when she started telling her story that forced her to drop out of the university: “I was going to take an exam in Written Expression, which is very difficult and cannot be easily passed. I asked the faculty secretary to ask the professor about the key topics. At that time, we did not know about the situation of some professors, we were hearing about the purchase of research projects for twenty thousand Syrian pounds and even fifty. When the secretary spoke to him, she asked me to see the professor in the office.”
Reem continues to tell her story as she looks at an office table in front of her: “I went in. I didn’t expect anything to happen. I asked about the main topics that may occur in the exam. He replied, ‘I’ll tell you about the main topics but not here, in Bajramana.'” Reem didn’t understand what he meant, so she asked: “Where in Bajramana? He answered, “I have them at home in Bajramana.”
“I couldn’t grasp the situation,” she said. I told him I can’t go, so he got up from behind his desk and came closer to me, and I lost my mind. I pushed him and ran out quickly. I did not file a complaint. Later on, I heard many other stories. When a story is uncovered, nothing happens except for punishing the student, preventing his/her graduation and making him/ her leave the university while tainting their reputation while the professor remains unpunished.”
The story of Reem was repeated with Hadia, a 22-year-old student at the Faculty of Education, told by one of her professors to whom she resorted. The professor, who asked not to be named, said: “Hadia walked into my office with pale face and with her whole body trembling. She couldn’t stand. She leaned a little on the edge of the door and started stuttering. I asked her to calm down to understand what was happening to her. She was silent for a few minutes gathering her breath and then told me what happened.” “Hadia walked into her professor’s office hoping that he will help her with some of the key points of the course. So, he asked her to visit him at home to give her the needed questions to succeed.” The professor added, “it’s unfortunate that the person that was supposed to be her idol, was her harasser.”
These stories are only one of many versions that circulate among students at the faculties of Damascus, a few of which reach the university’s disciplinary board, and perhaps the most famous of which is what happened with the university professor A.B. at the Department of Sociology in 2016, when the Minister of Higher Education, Professor Mohammed Amer Mardini, issued a decision to exempt him from teaching at the university. The Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Professor Khaled al-Halbouni, said that “the reason for the exemption is that his sexual extortion of students through Facebook and over the phone was in in exchange for letting them pass the exam.” Just a few months later, the university administration returned the said professor to teaching in the Department of Sociology, in accordance with a decision issued by the President of the University, Professor Hassan Kurdi.
A PhD student in pedagogy and a member of the teaching staff of the faculty, who asked not to be named, confirmed the existence of sexual exploitation cases of female students that were uncovered, but no deterrent measures were taken: “One of the professors, A.S., was dismissed for three months by an official decision of the university because he was caught in an intimate situation with a student, but thereafter returned to the university. “How did they bring him back to the university?” she asks. There are many cases.. One of my colleagues quit her master’s studies after a professor asked her: “Have you ever looked at yourself naked in the mirror?!”
According to an administrative officer of the university presidency: “no complaint that reaches the university presidency is neglected, and all complaints are investigated. The teacher is referred to the disciplinary board, that is composed of judges named by the Ministry of Justice, and receives punishment in accordance with the Penal Code of universities.” He added: “in case a female student is subjected to sexual blackmail, the case becomes a criminal matter and is referred to the competent court by a decision of the disciplinary board, and the perpetrator of the offence receives a sentence in accordance with the law. The university enacts procedures in accordance with the Universities Regulation Law.”
Article 505 of the Syrian Penal Code stipulates that “anyone who shamefully touches or caresses a minor who has not reached fifteen years of age, male or female, or a girl or woman who is over fifteen years of age, without her consent, shall be punished by imprisonment for a period not exceeding one and a half year.”
Article 506 of the Syrian Penal Code also stipulates: “anyone who utters words that violate decency shall be punished by corrective detention. Moreover, anyone who exposes a minor who has not completed fifteen years of age, a girl or a woman of more than fifteen years of age, to an act of indecency or who directs words against them contrary to decency shall be punished by three days’ imprisonment or a fine not exceeding 75 liras, or by both penalties.”
Conclusion: It has nothing to do with us
Despite repeated evidence about the sale of academic research papers, the former vice president of Damascus University for Scientific Research Affairs and Postgraduate Studies, Dr. Gharib, denies the existence of such cases at the university. “There is no plagiarism,” he says. “If it is proved that a student purchased the master’s dissertation, the student is permanently expelled, because every page of the dissertation is written under the supervision of the professor, and whenever a chapter is completed, it is discussed with the supervising professor,” he said, stressing that during his two-year mandate, he did not receive a complaint of this kind.
To the question about who is responsible in the event of discovering plagiarism cases, he answers: “the supervising professor must find out, but he/she does not take responsibility.” He adds: “no university professor approves that the student submits a completed thesis at once. These things are addressed at the faculty by the head of the respective department, and we have nothing to do with it.”
The university official denied that there were bookstores that produced dissertations on behalf of students, “rather, they only engage in the typesetting and printing of these theses.” When we told him about our visit to the bookstores and the services they offer for completing master’s dissertations on behalf of students, he asked us to further investigate the matter, “but not through us.” He added: “This issue is addressed with the concerned faculty, and I think you should make inquiries with the dean of the faculty, the scientific deputy, the administrative deputy, and the heads of the departments.”
A professor at the Faculty of Education at Damascus University blames the Scientific Research Council of the university presidency for what is happening, describing the Council as “routine and formal and nothing more,” and adding, “the Council is the root cause of the negligence. When I attend the meetings of the university presidency, members rather discuss the issue of replacing the supervisors, and they do not address the issue of the awarded degrees or how they were awarded, and when we ask for follow-up, we do not receive a response.” He called for the establishment of a second committee to investigate problematic academic dissertations, investigate the theft and the purchase of research papers, and conduct surveillance tours of bookstores.
Amid weak administrative procedures, the absence of law, and the evasion of responsibility by the university presidencies and faculties, this plagiarism phenomenon continues, providing advanced degrees to individuals who will receive unmerited positions in the most important educational institutions in Syria, with all the risks that this entails. Many of the students we interviewed as part of this investigation finished their master’s degrees in various disciplines without making much effort.
For example, after receiving the approval of her research outline by the University Council, Huda told us over the phone, six months after our first meeting that “the thesis is completed and things have become routine.” “I just need to wait until the deadline expires in order to be able to discuss the thesis and get my master’s degree,” she said. And when we asked her about what she will do next, she replied, “I’m going to pursue PhD studies!”
 The Syrian Pound.