KUWAIT CITY (AP) _ Kuwait University and the emirate's vocational schools reopened today after seven months of repair work in the wake of the Gulf War.

''The Iraqis wanted to deprive us of education, but today we proved to them that they couldn't,'' said Abeer al-Sarraf, 19, a freshman student majoring in engineering.

She is one of 24,000 Kuwaiti students who went back to college today.

Because of widespread destruction and looting, blamed on the Iraqi occupation forces who were evicted in February, the government this year restricted higher education to mostly Kuwaiti nationals.

Very few stateless Arabs and children of non-Kuwaiti university teachers have been allowed to enroll this year.

During their seven-month occupation of the emirate, Iraqi troops, assisted by professors from Iraqi universities, dismantled and transferred Kuwait University's laboratories, libraries and computer equipment to Iraq.

Rector of Kuwait University, Shuaib Abdulla Shuaib, told the local daily Al-Watan that students will be provided with basic services.

''There will be a library on every campus ... We used to have 500,000 books in our libraries, but now we will have to start with 25,000,'' he told the paper.

The five campuses of Kuwait University looked lively, with hundreds of cars filling the parking lots and students in colorful outfits.

On one campus, painters and electricians were still busy at work.

Signs asked students not to walk on unpaved areas and not to touch any strange objects in case they were mines or explosives left behind by the Iraqis.

Discarded furniture and piles of paper littered the entrance to the English Department building on the Shuwaikh Campus.

Inside, the staff was cramped into a couple of offices, fielding questions from students frustrated with the difficulties of registration.

''It's all a mess,'' exclaimed Iman al-Shatti, 18.

''Everything has changed because of the destruction and the looting. It took me half an hour to find where my first class was going to meet,'' she said.