WENR, Oct. 2005: Middle East and North Africa
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New Panel to Oversee Higher Education
Authorities in Bahrain have been asked to set up an administrative body to oversee higher education. Due to irregularities in professional conduct, underqualified students are graduating, which reportedly is causing problems. The General Secretariat for Higher Education will be established to monitor professional conduct at institutions of higher education — of which there are 14 — including the problem of private universities falsely claiming affiliation with foreign universities. It will also be charged with the responsibility of ensuring equal access for all students in the admissions process, by reducing corrupt practices. The new body will help the government work towards its goal of establishing Bahrain as a regional center for higher education by helping to ensure quality standards. In other news, a bill making education compulsory for children age 6 to 15 is expected to pass into law.
— Gulf News
Sept. 16, 2005
University enrollment was down in 2005 after increasing every year since the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948. Officials attribute the drop to increasingly difficult enrollment standards at colleges. Budget cuts also are blamed.
The number of university students totals approximately120,000. The decrease amounts to several hundred students, and stems largely from the number of new students accepted to universities, which has dropped 10 percent. Matters look even worse for the coming years. Because of severe budget constraints, the state will only be able to subsidize one-third of students. The crux of the problem, according to President of Jezreel Valley College Aliza Shenhar, is that enrollment has grown by a steady 10 percent in the last four years, but budgets have not kept pace.
July 29, 2005
Open University Celebrates First Graduation
The Jordan branch of Arab Open University (AOU) recently celebrated the graduation of its first cohort of students. Approximately 400 students received bachelor degrees and higher diploma certificates. According to the director of the Jordan branch Taleb Sarie, this is the first batch graduating under the university’s open learning system. The aim of the university, which has branches in a number of Arab countries (with Kuwait as its headquarters), is to turn out graduates who are capable of embracing the latest technology and who are capable of working in a globalized economy.
AOU, which primarily teaches in English, offers bachelor’s degrees in information technology and computing, business administration (systems track) and English language and literature. A fourth program, education, is taught in Arabic.
AOU has signed an agreement for cooperation and affiliation with UK Open University. The agreement includes: licensing of materials, consultancies, accreditation and validation. AOU has been granted institutional accreditation and program validation by the Open University Validation Service of the United Kingdom. The agreement will provide the opportunity for students to obtain a joint certificate from both universities.
— Jordan Times
Aug. 12, 2005
Saudi Plans Assistance for Palestinian University Students
Saudi Arabia will provide financial assistance worth US$15.2 million to help Palestinian students complete their higher education. The agreement between the Saudi Committee for the Relief of Palestinians (SCRP) and UNESCO sets up the implementation of the programs with the Palestinian Higher Education Ministry. SCRP’s financial assistance will cover 75 percent of tuition fees for 15,989 students, as well as 75 percent of tuition fees for 1,747 community college students. The Saudi grant also will be used to assist the Palestinian Ministry of Education in creating a system through which to distribute financial aid to students.
— Arab News
Sept. 16, 2005
Budget Surplus to Aid Education
The Saudi government has committed a significant percentage of this year’s oil-fueled budget surplus to upgrading and developing the country’s tertiary education sector. Studies are under way to transform 102 existing women’s colleges into women’s universities. King Abdullah already has instructed authorities to merge the six women’s colleges in Riyadh into a single university.
The government also is encouraging the private sector to open colleges and universities. According to Mohamed Al-Saleh, secretary-general of the Higher Education Council, the Higher Education Ministry has given preliminary licenses to approximately 60 investors to establish private colleges in various parts of the country.
— Arab News
Sept. 6, 2005
New Colleges to be Established
Authorities have approved the establishment of new colleges in various parts of the kingdom. The Department of Medical Sciences at Um Al-Qura University will be transformed into an independent college that will offer bachelor programs in medicine and surgery. Also, a new engineering school will be set up in Sakaka.
The Department of Computer Science at King Abdul Aziz University will be transformed into an independent college for computer science and information technology. Um Al-Qura University will open a department of genetics at the College of Medicine and Medical Sciences. The Imam Muhammad ibn Saud Islamic University will open a mathematics department and physics department. A marine research center will be established at King Khaled University, and a community college will be established in Huraimala.
— Arab News
July 18, 2005
New Scholarship Offer
Saudi officials have approved a huge scholarship program for Saudi students wishing to study abroad. As many as 25,000 students over a five year period are being invited to apply for the program, which is being established, in part, to better Saudi Arabia’s international relations.
King Abdullah, then crown prince, traveled to the United States earlier in the year to meet with President George Bush, and one of the topics under discussion was how to help alleviate current hurdles that exist for Saudi students wishing to study in the United States.
More information on the scholarship program is available through the Ministry of Education Web site at www.mohe.gov.sa.
— Arab News
Oct. 1, 2005
United Arab Emirates
Australian University Leaves Students Stranded
The University of Southern Queensland’s (USQ) Dubai campus closed in late August — less than a year after it opened at the multicampus education hub, Knowledge Village.
Angry staff and students at USQ have been demanding compensation from the university. Bill Lovegrove, USQ vice chancellor, maintained that responsibility lies with the Dubai authorities and not his school. In late September, however, a senior USQ transition team from the main campus in Queensland began helping a significant number of the 340 students affected by the closure. A number of students are still considering options, but USQ has assured the public that no student will be “abandoned.”
So far, 63 students have made the decision to continue studying at USQ, with 19 going to Australia. For these students, USQ will provide them with a scholarship of eight courses free of tuition if they already have successfully completed two courses with USQ Dubai. The school also is negotiating with two universities in Knowledge Village to teach-out the USQ degree programs.
— Khaleej Times
Sept. 23, 2005
British Campus Offers New Research Degree
British University in Dubai (BuiD) has introduced a postgraduate degree course in environmental design in building. The course will focus on such local considerations as the impacts of high temperatures on construction, as well as the need to reduce high power costs associated with air conditioning.
The British University in Dubai also has signed an agreement with Dubai’s Department of Economic Development to begin a program to promote economic and scientific research and development in the UAE.
— AME Information
Aug. 30, 2005
Private University Accredited
The country’s newest private university, Al Hosn University, has received accreditation for its bachelor’s programs in software engineering, business administration information systems management and industrial engineering.
The Abu Dhabi-based university, supported by Abu Dhabi Holding Co. (ADHC), will accept only 300 students in its first few years until it has moved to its permanent campus in Khalifa City.
— Gulf News
Aug. 16, 2005
French University to Establish Campus
The University of Paris-Sorbonne will open a liberal arts branch campus in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, in October 2006. All classes will be conducted in French and be taught by Sorbonne faculty. Some faculty will be sent to the UAE for two-year contracts, while others will be on assignment for a few weeks. Non-French-speaking students will be offered six-month to one-year training courses to achieve university-level French-language skills.
The university will be a “secular and co-educational higher education” institution. The programs on offer in Abu Dhabi will be in line with the ongoing European reforms that are being undertaken as part of the so-called Bologna Process.
The Sorbonne also is in the process of reforming its degree programs to fit the new European bachelor/master/doctorate (or licence/master/doctorat — LMD) structure. As in Paris, UAE-based students will earn European ECTS credits in the course of their studies. Students will the have the option to transfer these credits to the Sorbonne, or to any other European university.
Currently, the university plans to offer its first classes in October 2006; after a few years of operation, it hopes to enroll approximately 1,500 students from countries across the Middle East.
— al-Sharq al-Awsat
Sept. 29, 2005