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Sunday, June 13, 2021

Kuwait’s Stateless Students See Hope in Nationality-Blind Certificates

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Some outstanding Bedoon students have obtained scholarships that enable them complete their higher education. But if they obtain certificates saying they are stateless, it negatively affects their chances of finding work. (See a related article, “A Stateless Poet Finds Her Home and Identity in Literature.”)

Al-Hamli estimates that the graduation certificates of 19 Bedoon students mention nationalities other than Kuwait, while there are currently around 400 to 500 stateless students at universities. Their number is declining, however, as only 25 stateless students were admitted to Kuwait University last year.

Renewed Hope and Support

Al-Hamli, a member of the University Council, believes that removing the nationality clause will help solve the employment problems of stateless students. It will also show them that they are not a forgotten group in the university and that there is an elected student body that defends their rights.

Last year, the Kuwait University Students’ Union asked the then Minister of Higher Education to remove the nationality clause, partly to make it easier for them to pursue their studies in countries which until now refused to accept their academic credentials.

Dhuha Salem is a stateless student who managed to travel to Qatar to study for a master’s degree in linguistics despite a certificate describing her an “illegal resident.”

“Every student has the right to obtain his/her university degree without compromises and without conditions and restrictions,” Salem said in a phone call. “This is a long overdue decision.”

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About 150 professors at Kuwait University supported the demand to cancel the nationality clause in various ways including a petition campaign.

In a phone call, Layla Saud Al-Khayyat, of the university’s education faculty, said the Central Agency for Information Technology, a public institution established in 2010 to resolve stateless problems in Kuwait, “compelled” the university to register nationality on student certificates.

However, Fayiz Al-Dhafeeri, acting director of Kuwait University, said in news releases that the university merely issued certificates that had been completed in advance by the Central Agency for Illegal Residents.

Ongoing Challenges

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