Saudi Arabia: Student Mobility Drastically Curbed By Scholarship Cuts
In 2015, the Saudi Arabian government allocated about USD $6 billion to support international students studying abroad. But in 2016, tighter restrictions on the King Abdullah Scholarship Program, which funded some 90 percent of Saudi international students abroad, shrunk that support by 12 percent. The impact on U.S. institutions has been pronounced. Forecasts predict that the number of Saudi students in the U.S. will fall through 2020, when the scholarship program is scheduled to expire. IIE reported that in 2014, some 59, 945 Saudi Arabian students in U.S. colleges and universities contributed $1.7 billion to the U.S. economy. Thanks to the scholarship program, the country ranked as the fourth leading sender of students to the U.S. for many years.
Afghanistan: America University President Resigns
The president of the American University of Afghanistan resigned a month after gunmen opned fire on the school’s Kabul campus, killing 13. Two faculty members were kidnapped in a separate incident near campus in August. AU is the only nonprofit, private, coed university in Afghanistan. Founded in 2006 using U.S. AID funding, the institution is one of 18 American Universities across the Middle East and North Africa.
Inside Higher Ed
UAE Higher Education: The Struggle for Quality
United Arab Emirates first university opened its doors in 1977; some 40 years later, the country is a major international higher education hub. But a new study says the high ed sector, which is dominated by private institutions, has serious shortcomings. The UAE has sought to strengthen oversight in recent years, putting at least five private universities on probation for quality and other issues. One major challenge is the rate of growth across the sector: From 2008 to 2013, enrollment at all licensed institutions increased from 52,926 to 128,279. In an effort to shore up quality, the ministry has sought to implement other reforms in recent months. One such measure includes publishing a list of accredited institutions; another focuses on curricular reforms at the secondary level, with a goal of ensuring that high school graduates are better prepared for college- and university-level coursework.
Dubai: Middlesex University-Operated Campus May Be Acquired By a Private Investor
A Dubai-based private equity firm is reportedly in talks to acquire Middlesex University’s campus in Dubai. The price tag for the campus, which was founded in 2005 and enrolls more than 2,500 students in graduate and post-graduate programs, is estimated to be between $55 million to $70 million. In recent years, private investors have begun to view Dubai’s rapidly growing higher education sector with increasing interest.
Middle East: Oil/Gas Slump Hurts International School Sector
A sharp fall in oil and gas prices is poised to thin international school enrollments, as the ranks of expatriate workers in key countries of operation drops. This year, oil prices hit a low of $30 a barrel in February – down from fall from a 2014 high of $112. The International School predicts that schools in the Middle East, Malaysia, and Singapore will be hit especially hard. Volatility in the oil market has also affected the global higher education sector this year.
Pakistan: 10,000 PhD Candidates Bound for the U.S.
Pakistan’s Higher Education Commission (HEC) plans to send 10,000 PhD candidates to the United States to study agriculture and food security; health sciences; energy; water; climate change; and technology among other topics. The initiative is part of the Pakistan-U.S. Corridor, a bilateral strategic dialogue between the two countries. Pakistan hopes to increase domestic enrollment in tertiary education up to 5 million by 2025; however its universities now face an estimated shortage of 30,000 PhD-qualified faculty. The 10,000 PhD candidates who head to the U.S. would be expected to return to Pakistan to fill the gap.