Explained: How Academic Sponsorship Impacts Housing, Land, and Property Rights
Syria’s Academic Delegations Law, issued by Legislative Decree No. 6 of 2013, requires any person to study abroad on an academic delegation to have a guarantor who will pay all expenses and fees incurred by the student if they fail to fulfil their obligations to the sending entity or refuse to return home to Syria.
The agreement between the student and the guarantor, according to Law No. 6 of 2013, is one of mutual and solidary liability, meaning the creditor can seize funds from either party to recover the debt. If the state confiscates the guarantor’s assets, the guarantor may also initiate separate proceedings against the student to recover the funds they paid on their behalf.
Law No. 6 of 2013 defines a delegate student as a student sent on an academic delegation to study, train, or learn at a university or institute inside Syria or abroad at the state’s expense, on a scholarship, or with study leave. The law emphasizes that a sponsorship guarantee is mandatory for the student, or they risk losing their right to attend their delegation.
Articles 738-747 of the Syrian Civil Code define such sponsorship as a contract in which a person guarantees to fulfil an obligation imposed on another person, such as the guarantor promising the creditor to pay the debt if the debtor fails. This means that the guarantor commits to paying a debt in which they have no personal interest. The guarantee contract is only between the guarantor and the debtor’s creditor, with the debtor not being a party. In addition, the Civil Code requires the guarantor to be solvent, capable of fulfilling the guarantee and residing in Syria.
Under Minister of Higher Education Decision No. 10, issued on January 27, 2020, there are several different types of guarantees for students sent away for study: real estate, commercial, industrial, or agricultural. In a real estate guarantee, the guarantor provides a piece of real estate whose value is not less than a certain amount. It must not be mortgaged to any public or private entity and must not have any mark placed on its land record. As part of the real estate guarantee, a compulsory insurance mark is placed on the land record of the guarantor’s property to benefit the Ministry of Higher Education. During compulsory insurance, the property remains in the hands of its owner. This does not prevent them from disposing of the mortgaged property and selling it, so long as the creditor can collect their debt from the mortgaged property and sell it, regardless of who it has been transferred to.
A single guarantor may provide a guarantee for more than one property for one delegate student if the value of one property is insufficient. If the student fails to meet their obligations, the creditor, i.e. the Ministry of Higher Education, can initiate executive seizure procedures to sell the property and recover the debt. Any surplus beyond the debt amount and the legal action costs belongs to the property owner.
As for commercial, industrial or agricultural guarantees, the guarantor must be registered in the Chamber of Commerce, Industry, or Agriculture, and their classification within those chambers must be excellent or first-degree, or there must be two guarantors of the second-degree. In addition, the Chamber of Commerce, Industry, or Agriculture must approve the solvency of the guarantor (their ability to pay the debt), regardless of their degree.
As for the guarantee procedures, the guarantor must obtain a guarantee document from the Directorate of Academic Delegations at the Ministry of Higher Education and sign it in front of a notary who authenticates it. The guarantee is a written document by which the guarantor commits to sponsor the student by paying all amounts stipulated by Academic Delegations Law No. 6 of 2013, should the student violate what they committed to in this guarantee, and solidary liability with them. The guarantor remains obligated to this agreement until the student’s commitment under the provisions of Law No. 6 is fulfilled. After authentication by the notary, the guarantee is photocopied twice. Finally, the Directorate of Academic Delegations receives the original document and the two authenticated photocopies.