"President Bashar al-Assad joined thousands of students and the families of martyred students at the unveiling of a statue to the memory of the martyrs of Syria's universities at the University of Damascus," , state media and his official Facebook page said.
A photograph posted on the presidency's Facebook page showed Assad surrounded by bodyguards and well-wishers, arms extended in a bid to shake his hand.
The visit is the second time Assad has been seen in public this week, after a Wednesday trip to a Damascus electrical plant on Labour Day. The embattled leader has made increasingly rare public appearances since the beginning of the uprising against his regime began in March 2011.
Before the May 1 visit, his last reported public appearance was to an educational centre in the capital on March 20.
Before that, he had not been seen publicly before since January 24, when he attended prayers at a mosque in a northern district of Damascus.