Message from LAU President Michel E. Mawad
Dear Members of the LAU Community,
Much like other institutions and individuals in Lebanon, LAU has been severely impacted by the economic collapse and the COVID-19 pandemic. Since day one, we have exerted all our efforts to withstand the worst of the freefall of the local currency and to protect our students and their families as well as our faculty and staff.
To that end, LAU took substantial measures to ensure the welfare of its students, faculty and staff. There was a freeze on tuition fees for the fall, tuition payments in LBP remained unchanged, financial aid was increased to nearly $50 million covering close to 65 percent of students, and deferred payments were liberally granted on request.
With respect to faculty and staff, the university strove to safeguard its international standards and retain its talent pool. This is essential for the academic experience of our students, and to maintain the reputation of LAU’s credentials and Lebanese higher education in Lebanon and in the Middle East. The university stood firmly by its faculty and staff and did its utmost to address the spiraling cost of living. Our efforts to retain our intellectual capital - our faculty and staff - are central to our commitment and mission to deliver quality education, academic excellence and patient care. They are also essential for our role as an anchor of Lebanon’s youth, values, and identity.
We even resorted to something never before contemplated: drawing from our endowment to cover our operating losses and subsist in the face of an alarming deficit exceeding tens of millions of dollars. Additionally, to cope with the current financial crisis and redirect our limited resources toward the core of our mission, we deferred all new capital expansion projects until further notice.
However, the crisis we are going through shows no sign of abating, and what was done by LAU this fall is not sustainable. We must shore up the future of our institution, and protect the university and its high standards against existential threats that are staring us in the face. Continuing with the same tuition levels is no longer viable, as it will plunge the institution into a deeper deficit from which we will not recover.
Having addressed the situation with all relevant constituencies, within and outside LAU, and given the collapse of the Lebanese pound, LAU, starting this spring, will keep the dollar basis of its tuition fees unchanged, but will very regrettably have to adjust the amount it charges in LBP. Students will need to opt to settle their fees either in dollars or in Lebanese pounds. Those who go for the latter option should expect to pay an amount in LBP that is a closer indicator of the real costs and value of the education.
Our students, however, should rest assured that:
- The Financial Aid budget will be increased by an additional $20 to $25 million to ensure that students receive the additional aid needed. A separate announcement regarding Spring 2021 financial aid applications, petitions and adjustments will be sent out to students.
- Our liberal deferred payment policy will continue, and flexible payment plans will be readily available.
- We will maintain the level and quality of our education and our international standards to ensure that LAU preserves its positioning as an outstanding institution of higher learning throughout Lebanon, the region and the world.
I am confident that a bright light is looming at the end of this dark and long tunnel. We owe it to LAU to ensure its continuity in fulfilling a noble mission that it has been doggedly pursuing for well over a century.
Michel E. Mawad