WENR, Apr. 2006: Middle East and North Africa


Women’s University Expands, Gains International Partners

The Royal University for Women [1] (RUW) in West Riffa is expanding locally and internationally. The university’s new six-building campus, including a library, student union, and gymnasium, is 60 percent completed and scheduled to be ready to open at the start of the new academic year in September (See Sept/Oct 2003 issue of WENR [2]). The temporary RUW campus currently facilitates 50 students, but the new campus will support 1,000 students once it is completely constructed. Special accommodations have also been planned for a potential 150 international students.

RUW has also developed a new Bachelor of Education degree in collaboration with Canada’s McGill University [3]. The new degree includes a specialization in early childhood and elementary education, special education, and teaching English as a second language. The University is also in negotiations with England’s Middlesex University [4] over the development of a joint Design and Computer Science facility. Other programs offered are in the fields of business management, computer science, information technology, education, fashion design, graphic design, and interior design.

Trade Arabia [5]
Mar. 18, 2006


Higher Education in Kurdish Territory Expands

In the Kurdish region of Northern Iraq students are embracing higher education. Since the autonomous provincial government claimed power, higher education in the region has grown from a single university in Sulaimaniya, to 40,000 students in four universities with a fifth under construction. All four universities are modeled after the British education system. Three of the Kurdish universities have an academic relationship with Germany’s University of Dortmund [6], and other European partnerships are currently being sought. The Kurdish Higher Education Ministry is currently petitioning its Iraqi counterpart to forge an agreement on future financial and administrative responsibilities.

Education World Online [7]
March 2006


Al-Ahliyya Amman University Plans e-learning Center

Dubai-based Universal Knowledge Solutions [8] (UKS) and Jordan’s Al-Ahliyya Amman University [9] (AAU) have signed a partnership that will culminate in an eLearning Center of Excellence at AAU. The plan between AAU, the first private university in Jordan, and Universal Knowledge Solutions seeks to create a center for the enhancement of education technology and innovation in the Middle East. The new center will require professors to utilize e-learning in their day-to-day teaching.

UKS also helped develop the Syrian Virtual University [10] program and the eLearning Center of Excellence at the Gulf University of Science and Technology [11] in Kuwait.

Trade Arabia [5]
Feb. 13, 2006


Libyan/U.S. Ties Improve Through Education

The first academic delegation from Libya to visit the United States in 25 years convened with American academics last month at New York’s Columbia University [12]. It is estimated that in the early 1980s around 3,000 Libyans students attended U.S. institutions of higher education. Over the next 25 years however, the number of Libyan students receiving their education in the United States fell to zero as diplomatic relations between the two nations soured over Libya’s alleged support of terrorism against Western nations.

Officials at Columbia said they hoped the academic conference would foster future collaborations between scholars from Libya and the U.S. An assistant U.S. secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs commented that if relations between the two nations remain positive, perhaps the United States would include Libya in international education initiatives such as the Fulbright Fellowship program. As it stands, it is very difficult for a Libyan student to obtain a visa to study in the United States.

The Chronicle of Higher Education [13]
Apr. 4, 2006


New Higher Council of Education Formed

King Mohammed VI has called for the creation of the Higher Council of Education to advise him on all of Morocco’s education policy issues. The 112-member council will be made up of governmental authorities, members of the private sector, representatives of the national education system, and students. An arm of the Higher Council of Education will be the National Board of Evaluation of the Educational System, which will take on the task of quality assurance within the Moroccan education system.

Morocco Times
Feb. 16, 2006

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Students Change Trajectory

Saudi Higher Education Minister, Khaled Al-Anqari, has announced that the Gulf nation will begin to send more students to Asia to receive their higher education. According to Anqari, more Saudi students will travel abroad to China, India, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, and the Australian continent to pursue their studies in applied medical sciences, pharmacology, computers, information technology, finance, insurance and marketing.

The decision by Saudi authorities to dispatch students to the East comes after diplomatic visits by King Abdullah to China, India, Malaysia and Pakistan to discuss cooperation on various issues including education. Last April the Saudi Higher Education Ministry [14] pledged to provide 5000 students with scholarships to study in the United States after King Abdullah met with United States President, George Bush. However, hurdles in the process of obtaining student visas to travel and study in the United States have persuaded many Saudis to look elsewhere for their higher education, especially the rapidly emerging educational markets of Asia.

There are currently 17,588 Saudi students studying internationally with the vast majority concentrated in Britain and North America. The government’s commitment to education has also piqued the interest of many international institutions seeking to create Saudi Arabian branch campuses. At least 44 foreign universities have reportedly approached the Higher Education Ministry about such a project.

Arab News [15]
March 14, 2006

New University Launched

The Prince Muhammad ibn Fahd University in Alkhobar will open its doors to its inaugural class of students this September. The brand new US$80 million university plans to accommodate 5,500 students over the next five years and compete with international world-class institutions in developing future leaders, research, and the application of new knowledge. Prince Muhammad ibn Fahd will consist of a college of engineering, a college of administrative sciences, and a college of information technology for men, as well as colleges of administrative sciences and information technology for women. The coursework in the university’s 17 academic programs will be conducted in English. There are also plans to expand the university in the future to other regions of Saudi Arabia.

Arab News [15]
Mar. 30, 2006


Damascus University Reaches International Agreements

Damascus University [16] has recently negotiated international agreements with three international institutions. Malaysian Sultan Ismail Petra College, Brigham Young University [17] in the United States, and Middlebury College [18] also in the United States, have all participated in talks with Damascus about possible student and faculty exchanges in the future. Damascus has offered to train students from the aforementioned universities in Arabic language and Islamic sciences in exchange for opportunities to send Syrian students abroad for further education.

Arabic News [19]
Feb. 8, 2006
SANA [20]
Feb 9, 2006 and Mar. 13, 2006


U.S. Institutions Partners with Tunisian Professor to Enhance Virtual University

The second phase of the University of Georgia [21] (UGA)-Tunisia Educational Partnership concluded earlier this month and a delegation of Tunisian professors returned home after two weeks of working with professionals at UGA to develop online courses and extend the training network for the Virtual University of Tunisia [22].

A partnership that began in 2003 with funding from the U.S. State Department [23], the UGA–Tunisia Educational Partnership strives to provide quality electronic learning to a rapidly increasing school age population that Tunisia’s higher education system is unable to support. Tunisian education professionals from an array of disciplines arrive at UGA each year to expand the program further by participating in training workshops, reorganizing program components that need updating, and fortifying their commitment to e-learning as an important component of higher education in Tunisia. The program has become so popular in Tunisia that 236 professors applied for the 22 places available at this year’s workshop.

Ascribe [24]
Mar. 22, 2006

United Arab Emirates

Sorbonne to Open Abu Dhabi Campus

France’s Sorbonne University [25] will open its first venture outside its home country this October when it opens a branch campus in Abu Dhabi. An agreement signed between French Education Minister, Gilles de Robien, and United Arab Emirates Higher Education Minister, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, confirmed that Abu Dhabi will invest between US$20 and $30million to set up the UAE campus of the Sorbonne.

The Sorbonne campus in Abu Dhabi will initially enroll 200 students with a goal of building capacity to 1,500 over the first three years. The university will utilize a secular liberal arts curriculum with a focus on French language, history, geography, literature, and philosophy. Tuition for the institution will be $20,000 per academic year.

Middle East Times [26]
Feb. 20, 2006

Ministry of Education Cancels Unapproved Courses

The Ministry of Education [27] has ordered the closure of three academic institutions for offering classes approved by neither the ministry nor the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research. The Zenith Institute Abu Dhabi as well As Al Makkam and Al Nahil in Al Ain have been reprimanded for offering courses that they fraudulently advertised as accredited by foreign educational organizations. UAE law states that any tertiary course with a duration of six months or more must be approved by the Ministry of Higher Education, and that any course shorter than six months must be evaluated by the Ministry of Education, a separate body. The ministry’s actions are the result of complaints from former students of the three institutions. The immigration authorities have also been ordered to stop all visa processes related to these three institutions.

Khaleej Times [28]
Mar. 28, 2006