WENR, October 2007: Middle East
University Extends Invitation to Bush
An Iranian university invited US President George W. Bush to talk on campus, a week after his Iranian counterpart Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was given a frosty reception at New York’s Columbia University.
The head of Ferdowsi University in Iran’s second city of Mashhad, one of the oldest universities in the country, said Mr. Bush should visit to answer questions from students and lecturers on human rights and terrorism, according to the government daily Iran. Ahmadinejad had said after his return from the United States, where he also gave a speech to the United Nations, that Bush would be allowed to give a speech at an Iranian university if he so wished. However, given the current hostility between the two arch enemies over Iran’s nuclear drive and alleged support for militants in Iraq, there appears little chance of such a visit taking place.
– Agence France Presse
October 2, 2007
Aid Announced for Creation of International University of Iraq
Beginning in August 2008, a project to help rebuild and renew higher education in Iraq, entitled International University of Iraq (IUI), will begin operations. Initiated with a start-up grant from the Social Science Research ,Council of Canada along with intellectual guidance from the Public Lending Rights Commission of the Canadian Council of the Arts and pro-bono legal advice from several top Canadian law firms, IUI is a non-profit, non-sectarian, wholly private independent international university committed to critical, inquiry-based learning and research and the restoration of severely disrupted Iraqi connections to the international academic community.
After years of international sanctions, neglect by the Saddam Hussein regime, and occupation and war, a formerly world-class higher educational and cultural infrastructure has been all but decimated. As a result, thousands of Iraqi students and faculty are without means for engaging in formal research, teaching, and learning.
IUI was envisaged during a 2003 academic conference in North Cyprus at the International Center for Contemporary Middle Eastern Studies, Eastern Mediterranean University. The general idea reached by conference attendees was to establish an independent educational entity that would not only help restore higher education in Iraq by reconnecting Iraqi faculty and students to the international academic community, but would also demonstrate a new model of non-profit, private education that could stimulate regional educational reform in the Arab and Muslim world. The initiative has now received a start-up grant from the Canadian government and a 25-acre land-grant from the University of Baghdad, conceived as the eventual site of the IUI central campus.
Due to the current state of hostilities in the country, an interim site will be established at Kalamoon University in Deir Ateyah, Syria, which is prepared to host up to 20 Iraqi graduate students and some undergraduates next September, many of whom are refugees residing temporarily in Syria. Implementation of IUI at the University of Petra in Amman, Jordan is also under serious negotiation, as is a program for the Connecticut State University System, which is being asked to consider hosting at least two Iraqi students at each of its four, state-wide campuses.
Iraqi students enrolled in IUI will receive tuition, housing, and food from their host universities. In turn, IUI’s parent organization, Global Partnership for the International University of Iraq, will reciprocate by making available to host universities a variety of educational resources, including guest lectures, seminars, and large-scale conferences in which prominent figures associated with IUI will participate.
September 18, 2007
UNICEF: Return to School is “Remarkable Achievement”
Some 6 million Iraqi children will return to school this week, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) announced on October 8, calling it a “remarkable achievement.” UNICEF’s Iraq representative, Roger Wright, said Iraq’s schools are in need of urgent support “both in terms of access to schooling and the quality of learning children receive.” Violence and displacement has forced 220,000 school-age children to flee their homes since early 2006. Only 40 percent of students passed their high-school exit examinations during the first examination session of 2007, compared to 60 percent last year, UNICEF said, citing Education Ministry figures. The ministry calculated that only 28 percent of graduation-age students sat for the exam. A UNICEF-supported 2006 survey carried out by the Iraqi government found that one in six Iraqi children did not attend primary school. UNICEF said it appears that number has further decreased due to insecurity and threats against teachers. To compensate, UNICEF will sponsor a home curriculum for children unable to attend school during this academic year.
October 9, 2007
First Lady Receives Prestigious International Award for Educational Reform Efforts
Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser Al Missned, wife of the Emir of Qatar, was awarded the prestigious Chatham House Prize by the Duke of York on Oct 15 for her commitment to progressive education and community welfare in Qatar. The annual award is given to a leading international statesperson deemed to have made the most significant contribution to the improvement of international relations in the previous year. Sheikha Mozza is the Chairperson of the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development. She has also been recognized for her work as Unesco’s Special Envoy for Basic and Higher Education, and as a member of the High Level Group of the United Nation’s Alliance of Civilizations. She has received various honorary doctorates for her work, most recently from Imperial College in London.
– Agence France Presse
October 16, 2007
17 New Colleges Approved
King Abdullah approved the establishment of 17 new colleges in October, including a college of design for women in Dammam, a college of naturopathy for women in Riyadh, a college of applied sciences in Yanbu, a college of nursing in Qassim, and a college of administrative and human sciences in Majmaa.
The University of Women in Riyadh will get new colleges for naturopathy, pharmacology, nursing, nursery, and languages and translation, according to the Saudi Press Agency quoting Higher Education Minister Khaled Al-Anqari.
Three new colleges will be established under the Women’s University in Dawadmi for nursing, naturopathy and nursery. Jeddah will have two new colleges for applied medical sciences and medicine. Anqari said a new engineering and computer science college will be established in Al-Kharj, a college of dentistry in Makkah and a college for basic medical sciences in Dammam. Anqari also announced that children of Saudis working abroad would be given admission at government universities in the Kingdom. “If they want to join private universities and colleges in the Kingdom, the government will pay their fees according to scholarship regulations.”
– Arab News
October 11, 2007
United Arab Emirates
US University Announces Dubai Plans
Michigan State University announced plans in September to establish a presence in the emirate of Duabi, which is quickly becoming a magnet for overseas institutions looking to set up shop in the region. A delegation from the oil-rich United Arab Emirates signed documents outlining financial arrangements in East Lansing that would see MSU become the first U.S. university to offer degree programs in the new Dubai International Academic City, a US$3-billion venture hoping to cluster approximately 20 university programs from around the world.
The Michigan school hopes to offer undergraduate degrees in computer engineering, communications arts, construction management, and family/community services and master’s degrees in advertising and public relations, human resources, logistics and supply-chain management, and packaging beginning in the fall of 2008. Under the deal, MSU’s launch costs will be paid from a revolving line of credit established by TECOM Investments, a subsidiary of Dubai Holding, a quasi-governmental entity that owns and operates free trade zones. MSU is to make payments against the credit line, most from future tuition revenue in Dubai.
John Hudzik, MSU vice president for global engagement and strategic projects, was first approached a year ago by Dubai officials at a conference in Switzerland about whether MSU would be the U.S. anchor school for Dubai International Academic City.
– Detroit Free Press
October 1, 2007
NYU Confirms Abu Dhabi Plans
First reported by The New York Times in August, New York University announced in mid-October that it will open a campus in Abu Dhabi, joining Michigan State University which also announced UAE campus plans in September.
According to NYU president, John Sexton, the university approached a number of different countries in the region before deciding on the United Arab Emirates. “We found in Abu Dhabi a commitment to the notion that the world that is emerging is going to have eight or ten idea capitals in it, driven at their core by research universities, these places where ideas are created,” Sexton told The Chronicle of Higher Education. “The single thing to understand is that this is not a business investment for Abu Dhabi. This is a deep investment in creating an idea capital: a magnet for the whole region and the whole world, with students from India or Morocco or from Saudi Arabia.”
An expenses-paid building and operating offer no doubt helped NYU finalize its decision. Abu Dhabi will also provide money to specific departments and programs on NYU’s campus in Manhattan in exchange for having professors rotate to the Abu Dhabi campus. “We want our faculty to see the Abu Dhabi campus as their own,” Mr. Sexton said. “The idea is to create fluidity.”
The NYU Abu Dhabi campus will offer the same degrees that are offered in New York, with a curriculum developed by the university’s New York-based faculty. The university hopes eventually to enroll more than 2,000 undergraduates and several hundred graduate students on the new campus. Its students will be chosen by NYU’s Office of Admissions, relying on the same standards used for the New York campus. NYU Abu Dhabi students will be offered the opportunity to spend a semester in New York and a semester at one of the university’s 12 other outposts around the world, in such places as China, Ghana, and England (see September issue of WENR).