The history of PTUK has been closely associated with the historical development of the Palestinian issue. It also had been directly affected by those who ruled the area, such as the British mandate and the Jordanian rule up to present day Palestinian Authority and the State of Palestine as a member of the UN member states.
Towards the end of the Ottoman’s rule, there was a state of illiteracy spreading in the Palestinian area in general and in the rural areas in particular. This had facilitated the coming of the British Mandate as a new occupation of the Palestinian land, including Jordan, which was followed by the infamous Belfour Declaration, promising the Jews a state in Palestine. These tragic events prompted the Palestinian communities – which were mostly rural at the time – to do something significant to help change the situation. They decided to begin a process of educating their children. Their aims were, through education, they can preserve the national identity of the future generation and also help them get rid of illiteracy as a mean of challenge to the occupation.
Part of this effort was translated in donating land and money to build schools and colleges in the areas where there was widespread illiteracy. The people of Tulkarem and district for instance donated a massive 600 dunums (an equivalent to 600,000 m2) from the best plot they have to build an agricultural school. They achieved their objectives with the help of a donation of 140 Palestinian pounds from a British business man named Ales Eely Kadoorie (who was a resident of the British Colony Hong Kong at the time). This financial donation and the donated land resulted in the building of the agricultural school in 1930 and it was called it Kadoorie in recognition of the kind donation made by the British donor, Mr. Kadoorie.
The school was established under the auspices of the Palestinian Agriculture and Forestry Service with the collaboration of the Palestinian Education Bureau. The school consisted of two floors incorporating, in addition to the classrooms, a library, a kitchen, dining room as well as a student resident section – as it was designed to be a boarding school.
Teaching commenced in the school in 1931 with a total of 60 students. The enrolled students were selected from those who completed their secondary education with excellent grades. Each student paid 12 Palestinian pounds per year as a tuition fee as well as for boarding. The duration of the study program was 3 years leading to a diploma in agriculture upon successful completion.
Between 1936 and 1939, which was the time of the Arab revolt, and the eve of World War II, the British military took control of the school. A major part of its agricultural land remained under the British Mandate until 1946. Then in 1948, the Jews annexed 200 dunums from Kadoorie land that was on the western side of the Railway lines.
In 1848, the British lifted their mandate on Palestine. However, a few months before this date, the UN declared its resolution # 181 which resolved to dividing the land of Palestine between the Arabs and the Jews. Fortunately, Kadoorie and most of the remaining land came within the area that was to be run by the Jordanian Administration. In 1961, the school was upgraded to a college and was given the name “Hussein Agricultural College” which was administered by the Jordanian Ministry of Education. The duration of the program changed to 2 years instead of three.
In 1965, the college opened its first teacher training department, to train teachers of mathematics and science, on a two years training program following the completion of the secondary education.
The name of the college had changed yet again in 1968, following the Israeli occupation of the remaining Palestinian area. The new name was Tulkarem Agricultural Institute.
The teacher training department diversified in 1982 to include training of teachers of arts-based subjects, such as Arabic and English languages, History amongst other non-scientific streams. The name was then changed to Tulkarem Community College.
In 1994, following the Oslo accord, the responsibility of Kadoorie had transferred to the Palestinian National Authority and it was administered by the Palestinian Ministry of Higher Education. Its name had changed once more to “Palestine Technical College”, giving a number of 2-year diploma courses in Engineering and Science. This move had paved the way to the introduction of the first four-year bachelor degree programs in Electrical Engineering and Physical Education. Five years later, in 2004, the college began its third bachelor program in Technology Education. All of these developments took place despite the many heinous violations and abuses against Kadoorie’s human and material resources. Up to this day, the violation is continuing in the form of annexing 23 dumdums of Kadoorie land by the Israeli authority – some of which is used for shooting training.
On Tuesday, 28th August 2007, Kadoorie was given an official approval to be the first State University in the West Bank and it was named: Palestine Technical University – Kadoorie(PTUK). The new university offered five bachelor degree programs then: Electrical Engineering, Physical Education, Engineering and Industrial Automation as well as Computerized Financial and Banking systems.
The first president of the university, directly appointed by a presidential decree was Dr. Dawood Al- Zatari, who was given the role of building the universities constitutions and infrastructure so that it ranks with well established universities in the region.
Ever since that date, the university’s leadership worked hard to establish the university’s internal policy and regulations as well as the structure of the university’s academic and administrative staff. In addition, a new development plan was set for the university in two phases: a five-year development plan and another ten-year plan. The aim was to build new colleges and offer new programs. All of this was made so as to complement existing programs offered at other Palestinian universities and concentrate on creating new technologies, for which experts are recruited and new facilities and laboratories are to be provided.
Parallel to this, the university’s has also continued its efforts to offer new degree programs. In 2009, for degree programs had been accredited to be offered at PTUK: Mechatronics, Communications , Computer Engineering and Applied Mathematics.
Under the current President of PTUK, Prof. Marwan Awartan, PTUK lead the way to open new frontiers in innovation, invention and quality assurance. The university achieved approval of new programs in Agriculture, Building Engineering, Chemistry, Physics and Computer System Engineering. It has also won official approval to establish a brand new college which is the Agriculture College. The very first Master degree program in Agriculture was accredited only a few months ago. There are still other several programs waiting to be approved.
Many collaboration agreements were established with national and international universities and other international bodies. The aim here was to open the door for PTUK to enter the research and scientific discovery and thus join the ranks of other reputable universities in the region and around the world. In fact a new deanship in research had been established with the publication of PTUK own research Journal
With all this, PTUK recognizes there are still many challenges ahead, some of which is the completion of legislative reform associated with the university’s special administrative and financial laws and regulations, in addition to the setting up of an official authority in the form of The University Advisory Board.