Universities and schools
There are twelve major public universities with Media departments or faculties. These include: the University of Benghazi, Tripoli University, the Open University of Libya, Misrata University, the University of Zawia, Azzaytuna University, the Omar Mukhtar University in Bayda, Elmergib University, Sirte University, Tobrouk University, Ajdabia University and Sabha University.
According to a 2014 survey Omar Mukhtar University had the largest number of students enrolled with 100 students per year, followed by Tripoli University which had 60 students enrolled. Other faculties varied between 20-30 students. Apart from the main university departments there are also several newly founded colleges and also a number of private universities, but these are not as populated or considered for media and journalism studies.
The media curriculum was devised by the Gaddafi regime back in 2008 and it still used to these day omitting certain subjects and topics such as Jamaihryia social studies and so on. Media schools face the challenge of providing relevant training and especially hands-on training, as most of the curriculum is theory oriented, with very little practical experience. A major factor is that it’s obligatory for the teaching staff to hold media degrees and most of those hired are academics who have not practiced media professionally themselves.
A number of international organisations such as the Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR) and others, established media labs in few of these schools. Yet graduates still lack the opportunity to refine their skills, due to various reasons which include the way the educational experience was designed. For instance, students do not need to show their skills to pass exams or graduate, it is only mandatory to sit written exams. There is also the issue of the very little time each student gets to have hands-on practical training in the labs. Finally, in conservative areas such as Misrata, female students shy away from sharing facilities with male students.
There are a number of international and European NGOs who provide short and long term training, but the majority of these trainings take place in the neighbouring country of Tunisia due to poor security inside Libya. This also proves to be challenging for female students because it is considered taboo to travel alone.
The undergraduate courses are four years long, and there are graduate courses offered in limited schools including the Media and Art Faculty of the University of Benghazi, which has four departments including Journalism, TV and Radio, Arts and Theater and Public Relations, with 43 staff members and 2,500 students as of 2018 as it became increasingly popular in East Libya. The University of Benghazi had 80 Graduates in 2018.
Media is still viewed as a male-dominated field in Libya as the conservative community looks down on female media professionals and views them as socially unacceptable. Despite this fact most of the media schools are either gender balanced or slightly female dominated in the number of students. Nevertheless challenges begin once the female media students graduate and they are faced with pressure from families and the community to go out and join the media profession.