WENR, May 2007: Middle East
New Zealand Company Hired to Help Establish New National Polytechnic
PINZ (Polytechnics International New Zealand Ltd), a leading New Zealand education consultancy and project management company, has secured a multi-year contract to help establish the Kingdom of Bahrain’s new national polytechnic. PINZ, whose shareholders comprise 18 of New Zealand’s institutions of higher education, was awarded the multi-million dollar five-year contract in April. The contract is the largest ever awarded to a New Zealand education company in the Middle East.
The three-phased project has commenced with initial concept development and will lead to the establishment of pilot programs for the polytechnic by September 2007. It will result in the establishment and operation of a new national polytechnic institution by September 2008.
–Market New Zealand
April 23, 2007
French Business School Looks to Open Campus in Region
ESC Lille School of Management plans to open a campus in the Gulf region within the next two years. The Financial Times reports that the school is currently considering sites in Bahrain, Qatar or the United Arab Emirates. Christophe Bredillet, dean of postgraduate programs at the school, told the British newspaper that his school has built a relationship with the Gulf region dating back 15 years, and with the education market in the Gulf region currently thriving he sees this as the ideal time to both increase recruitment and extend its partnerships in the area.
“The economies of the Gulf are booming, international investment is on the rise and education is a top priority. A campus is the next logical step,” says Bredillet. ESC Lille already has partnerships with some of the leading companies in the Gulf region, such as Dassault, Total and UAE Airforce and a new campus would reinforce these, as well as allowing for new collaborations.
Universities Shuttered by Protest, Semester Almost Lost
After more than a month of student protest against proposed higher-education reforms, university campuses were closed down in mid-May despite warnings from university officials that striking students would lose all academic credit for the semester if they refused to attend class. Last-ditch efforts to reach an agreement between student leaders, government officials and university heads appeared to have failed, and it was reported May 18 that the semester would be cancelled. However, after the National Union of Israeli Students voted May 22 to call off their 41 day strike, it was announced by university officials that the current semester would be extended by two to four weeks and universities would be reopening from May 24.
The country’s 250,000 students have been protesting plans by the Shochat Committee — a government-appointed panel led by a former finance minister, Avraham Shochat — to raise student fees from their current level of about $2,150 per year. The Shochat Committee says student fees should be restructured, with wealthier students paying more. But its proposals, to be presented in June, ignore findings by a previous government-appointed commission and the education committee of the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, both of which recommended lowering the fees.
Government Issues 15-Year Plan for Higher Education
Omani scientists will benefit from a new research council, new science and technology institutions as well as increasing cooperation with scientists abroad, revealed education minister Yahya bin Saud bin Mansour in January.
The measures are part of the country’s new 15-year strategy for higher education and scientific research. The new scientific research council will prepare science policy, advise the government on technological issues and promote national, regional and international science cooperation, as well as capacity building.
As part of the strategy, more colleges will be turned into science and technology institutions — six have already been transformed this way.
International cooperation will also receive a boost. The plan will grant more annual scholarships for studying abroad, and promote further collaboration between Oman’s science institutions and those of other Arab, Islamic and western countries. The future Omani-German University of Technology, which is scheduled to open in Muscat in September, is a first step in this direction. The institution will offer European Union-recognized degrees in mechanical engineering, applied geosciences and information technology science, and is working in collaboration with Germany’s Rhine-Westphalia Technical University, Aachen.
January 25, 2007
Qatari Education Reforms Receive High International Praise
In just three years, the State of Qatar has begun a far-reaching redesign of its K-12 education system, incorporating school autonomy, variety in curriculum, parental choice and accountability measures, according to a report issued in April by the RAND Corporation, which was asked by the State of Qatar to examine its education system and recommend improvements. The report describes the first phase of the project – 2001 to 2004 – which saw the opening of a first generation of independent schools. Meanwhile, the reforms were hailed as visionary and systematic at a recent conference on education reform in the Arab world.
At the time the RAND project began, two-thirds of Qatar’s 100,000 school children were enrolled in government-financed and operated schools and the rest were in private schools, which varied in quality. RAND experts proposed several possible education models. The model the Qatari government chose included internationally benchmarked curriculum standards; independent, government-funded schools; accountability measures for the schools; variety in education plans; and parental choice among the schools.
International speakers at the ‘Education and Change in Qatar and the Arab World’ conference in April were full of praise for the Qatari reforms. At a panel discussion, Professor Dominic Brewer from Southern California University School of Education said that “in Qatar, the change from 2001, when the Ministry of Education operated 200 single-sex schools catering to 70,000 students, to 2002, when the system was standardized to international models, with new independent schools separated from the ministry, is remarkable.”
The reform model involved the creation of three new government institutions. The Supreme Education Council is responsible for setting national education policy. The Education Institute oversees the new independent schools and allocates resources to them, in addition to developing national curriculum standards in Arabic, mathematics, science and English, and developing a teacher-training program. The Evaluation Institute monitors student and school performances in both the Ministry and independent schools. By the fall of 2004, the Education Institute opened 12 independent schools, which were selected from a pool of 160 applicants. In 2005, 21 additional independent schools opened, and last year, 13 more opened. Today, there are about 46 independent schools; parents also can opt to send their children to private schools or Ministry of Education schools.
Canadian University to Launch Campus
Canada’s University of Calgary will offer nursing degrees from August at a branch campus in the Qatari capital, Doha. The University of Calgary-Qatar will form part of Qatar’s College of Nursing Project, which is aimed at providing world-class nursing education and research programs in Doha. The program will prepare nurses for excellence in clinical nursing and lay the foundation for master’s and PhD studies. Calgary will be the seventh foreign university to open a branch campus in Qatar. Five US universities operate in the multi-campus facility known as Education City, while Dutch provider CHN University offers undergraduate degrees in business, hospitality and tourism.
– Gulf Times
May 8, 2007
15 New Colleges Approved
Saudi Arabia will set up fifteen new colleges, including two medical colleges in Riyadh and Al-Kharj, Arab News reported. The Higher Education Council has also received approval to set up an institute of tourism and nanotechnology center in Jeddah. Over 50 foreign companies have applied for licenses to offer young Saudis job-training courses.
– Arab News
April 12, 2007
United Arab Emirates
Boston U. College of Engineering Signs Agreement to Consult on Dubai ‘Techno Park’
Boston University College of Engineering has signed a memorandum of understanding with Dubai World to help develop a 23 square km research and development center on the outskirts of Dubai, known as Techno Park. Under the agreement, the two sides will engage in cooperative research in the field of ‘high technology.’
– Business Intelligence, Middle East
April 23, 2007
European Association to Offer Consulting Services to Dubai Knowledge Village
Dubai Knowledge Village and the European Association of International Education (EAIE) have signed a memorandum of understanding through which the Dubai education hub hopes to boost its impact on international education in the region. Under the agreement, EAIE will offer training programs and provide a platform for educators and institutions of higher education in Dubai to network with providers in Europe.
– Dubai Knowledge Village news release
April 16, 2007
US University Nixes Dubai Plans
The University of Connecticut has told the Dubai Education Council it has abandoned plans to set up a campus in the emirate due to political pressure in the US, reported Gulf News. Members of Connecticut’s General Assembly have said they will not sanction the deal until the UAE adopts a more pro-Zionist position regarding its dealings with Israel and also works to address its own human rights record regarding laborers.
– Gulf News
May 7, 2007