Undergraduate enrolment drops significantly in Nangarhar

A class at a private university in Nangarhar.

Empty campuses and classes have challenged the six private universities and higher education institutes in the eastern province of Nangarhar, facing them with the risk of closure as total undergraduate enrolment drops significantly since last year, lecturers said.

Nangarhar has three private universities and three private higher education institutes that enrol students from various eastern provinces.

“Unemployment has increased after the fall of the republic government, and there is 60 to 70 percent decrease in enrolments compared to the past,” said Mohammad Karim Naseri, head of communication for union of private universities.

He said they had many meetings with Taliban leadership and the ministry of higher education, but there is no progress in addressing the issue.

High school graduates said they are worried about their future because their families could not afford the expenses of their higher education studies but this will not be possible if the situation continues.

“We were so hopeful about continuing our higher education, but after the fall of the previous government, I changed my plans and I need to work and feed my family,” said Omidullah, a resident of Khogyani district, Nangarhar.

He said that dozens of youth in his area have been deprived of higher education due to poverty and increase in unemployment.

Raees Khan, a high school graduate in Pachir Agam district in Nangarhar, said he hopes to be enrolled in his favorite college but he is concerned about many of his classmates and other youth who will not be able to continue their higher education.

“Many of my friends have been deprived of higher education, and it is hard to lose your hope about your future,” he added.

Lecturers also have the same concerns about the future of higher education institutes if the situation prevails.

“A large number of boys and girls used to apply for the university entrance exam every year, but regrettably, the process has reduced this year and there are universities where no one has applied for the university entrance exam,” said Haroon Hilal, a university lecturer in Nangarhar.

The reduction in the number of enrolments in Nangarhar universities not only exists in Nangarhar but it is a problem all over the country. There is a significant decrease in the number of students at private universities and higher education institutes in Kabul, Herat and other provinces as well.

Officials from private universities in Nangarhar warned that the industry will be harmed further if the Taliban does not provide support to these institutions.

Nangarhar has six private universities. Figures show that Afghanistan had 143 private universities and higher education until August 2021, enrolling over 210,000 students. There is a significant reduction in these figures over the past year.