At IUG 2020: Best of the Year

03 - Jan - 2021


By: Aseel. J Ghaben

2020 was unlike any other. The year began with a drumbeat of winter graduation ceremonies in the Islamic University. Alas, the COVID19 pandemic knocked the doors of the Gaza Strip in the 7th of March 2020 and left the ceremonies uncompleted. The strip then has seen gears shift in social and academic life by the declaration of a state of emergency. In response to that, the look down has thereby comprised all walks of life and the Islamic university, in particular, was quick enough to respond to the uncertainties created by the coronavirus pandemic. On the 8th of March 2020, the University declared a state of emergency, three committees were formed as a result, and e-learning started to accompany students at homes.

Looking back at what has been a turbulent year, the Islamic University was first in Gaza to lend itself to the virtual environment. Ever since the declaration of emergency state took place, the university community has found new ways to come together to learn and work, while also getting a step forward in e-learning system, international projects, and research to address troubles posed by the COVID19 pandemic. Meanwhile, IUG celebrated some notable breakthroughs all the year along, including staff winning of research and students as well as alumnus holding of prizes in manifold Sciences. Four conferences, despite the emergency, took place virtually and on the ground.  

E-learning is a Blessing, Not a Curse

Switching to the e-learning plan in the walk of the suspension of educational process came on the top of IUG priorities. As soon as the e-learning process kicked off, IUG instructed its students to follow up the courses on the Moodle Platform, where the higher e-learning committee has had to harness all technical support to manage and serve students.  According to prof. Moataz Saad, the Director of the Excellence and e-Learning Centre at IUG, the

-Total number of recorded lectures is (5908).

-Followers of video lectures' channel on the Center's YouTube are (233000), while they reached (3436) on Telegram Channel.

- Total views of video lectures is (5) million.

- Total number of courses on Moodle Platform is (4762) course.

- Total number of assignments on Moodle is (3602).

- Total number of Meetings on virtual classes is (4411).

In terms of training workshops and technical support the center has carried out, Prof. Saad reported that:

-          (8736) technical order has been addressed.

-          (11304) video lecture has been uploaded.

-          (350) academics have been trained.

-          (11) Training meetings were held for academics.

-          (7) Workshops were held, and (13) workshop on online learning were participated in.

-          More than (38) training and guiding videos have been uploaded on the Moodle Platform.

Although students have embraced some challenges and pressure in coping with the fully online-learning system, scholars and students have encountered surprising benefits and unexpected joys while teaching online. Others found the experience an excellent opportunity to go international and network with other alike classes. Multiple courses invited professors from international universities to give lectures and deliver their thoughts and expertise to IUG students; Shakespeare course, administered by prof. Refaat Al-Areer, was one of them. This diversity of classes has created wide-ranging virtual spaces of intercommunication and dialogue with the outside world.

After being a culture of this year, online work goes beyond meetings and teaching classes. Different conferences, symposiums and thesis defense were exposed to this online culture, in which scientific papers, new solutions for crises and discussions took place. For instance, It's the first time for the Women's Studies Center at IUG to convene its first international conference online and it was a challenge, fortunately, culminated with success. Likewise, international symposiums on Antibiotics awareness and Smithsonian exhibition took place virtually.

New Programs   

Intensifying efforts in the development of e-learning system has occurred in parallel with feeding curriculum with fresh academic programs. This year at the Islamic University, new Programs have been inaugurated.  The Accreditation and Quality Assurance Commission (AQAC) at the Palestinian Ministry of Higher Education has accredited four novel programs. These programs included a Master in Social Work Specialty, Bachelor in Digital Media, vocational diploma in Childbirth and Reproductive Health, and Bachelor in Islamic law sub-fatwa.

Prof. Elian Al-Holi, who is the Vice-President for Academic Affairs at IUG, reported that, "by the inauguration of these four programs, the total number of Bachelor, Master, Doctoral, and Vocational programs offered by the Islamic University reached (143).


2020 has brought a remarkable legacy of success and research. The Islamic University has topped all Palestinian universities and ranked (14) in the Arab world, according to UniRank. IUG, in addition, has been ranked higher positions in terms of environment, sustainable projects, and scientific research, according to regional rankings. As for the international projects, IUG won (16) mobility projects, and (11) international projects from different donors, (7) of which are funded from Erasmus+ through the European Commission.  

Scientific Research took a wider dimension this year; three researchers from the Islamic University were awarded "2020 University Excellence in Scientific Research" prize, funded by the Islamic Bank and the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research. The Islamic Bank also awarded prof. Sofyan Taya a prize of the best scientific research in Palestine. In a relative context, five researchers won scholarships in the 3rd Palestine-Quebec Science Bridge (PQSB) Call.

At the level of alumnus and students, Asmaa Mustafa, a graduate from the Faculty of Education at the Islamic University, named "Global Teacher" by the AKS Education Award in India, upon her interactive and creative teaching activities with her students in English language classes. Another MA Student, Rana Zeyada, ranked first In Al-Taawon Award For Distinguished Teacher, and she lately named the "international inspirational teacher". Locally, The Islamic University has honored and named Dr. Tahani Salem Abu Salah "The Youngest PhD Researcher at IUG", her thesis is the first of its kind in Palestine and the third in the Arab World.

Between Language and heritage, bringing the destroyed Palestinian village Sahmata back to life was the aim of three IUG students. Under the auspices of the Palestine Land Society (PLS) in London, UK, Maha Mansour, Asmaa Alsaqqa and Alaa Hammad, from the IUG Architectural Department, ranked first in the PLS international Award for the 2020 Best design of Reconstruction of Destroyed Palestinian Village Sahmata.

Yahya Al Yacoubi, Fadi Al-Hosni, and Nabil Sonoono, three graduates from the Department of Media and Journalism, have won the first positions in the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) 2020 Award for humanitarian journalism.


It is always in the kernel of IUG plans to create a fertile learning environment for students, and to supplement the Health Sector with devices that help resist COVID19 is added to the list this year. Two ventilators and a Center For Communicable Diseases Surveillance were built up at IUG to aid the health sector, and two computer laboratories were opened to support students.

Shortly after the declaration of the first cases that detected positive with COVID19, IUG took over the Turkish-Palestinian hospital, placing it at the disposal of the Ministry of Health to be used for patients' quarantine.

Also, three academics from the Islamic university have simulated two ventilators with a view to supplement the health sector with respiratory devices that are believed to survive patients from dreadful symptoms and disorders of the novel disease.  The first prototype of a ventilator was made by Eng. Esam Khalafallah and Ismail Abu Skheila from the IUG Engineering Office. The second one was developed by Prof. Juma Alaydi, who is an Associate Professor at Engineering Faculty. He said that the device was developed under the supervision of medical specialists and doctors form the Ministry of Health in Gaza. The device has been met with incubation by the IUG Business and Technology Incubator through 10X project.

In addition to that, opening the doors of a new Center For Communicable Diseases Surveillance for public was a rational decision to be taken in the midst of the outbreak of a disease that can't discriminate anyone. This Center stands for diagnosing novel and infectious diseases like coronavirus, additionally to finding therapeutic strategies for minimizing the numbers of patients and curbing these diseases' aftermath. This Center, also, represents a research hub for governmental and private research efforts and a training environment for students of medical faculties.

In favor of visually impaired students who are studying in the Disability and Integration Services Center at IUG, a brand-new computer laboratory was being constructed and equipped with a view to facilitate the process of learning and aid students with disability to fulfill their education. The Lab was funded by Al Baraka Bank in Turkey in partnership with the Hope Foundation for Education. 


Earlier this year on the 17th of February 2020, the IUG Architectural Engineering Department also inaugurated a scientific lab containing (30) highly efficient computers that were equipped and funded through CBEEB Project. Prof. Ahmed Muhaisen, who is the CBEEB project Manager, reported that, "This lab is devoted to serve students of "energy-efficient buildings" course, in particular, as it helps them mimic energy-efficient buildings using designing programs."

What it’s like to graduate during a pandemic?

By the End of this year, the number of students that IUG has officially declared them graduates for 2020 reached (3488 ). For 2020 year’s graduates, it’s a particularly bittersweet time as they celebrated the completion of their degrees, while also relinquishing what would have been some of the most significant moments of their experience at IUG, most notably Commencement.

Below some of graduates share their parting thoughts on the year that changed everything.