WENR, June 2008: Middle East


Tertiary Enrollments Quadruple in 17 Years, Labor Market Can’t Keep Up

The number of tertiary-level students in Jordan has skyrocketed from approximately 40,000 to 160,000 in 17 years, while the number of universities has increased from four to 26 over the same timeframe. Unfortunately, job creation has not kept pace and graduate unemployment is rife.

Such detailed statistics are unusual for the region, and they have been made available through the offices of the National Center for Human Resources Development [1]. Its Canadian-funded Al Manar project has pioneered education and training indicators in the Middle East and is being used throughout the region as an example to link human resources strategies with labor market data.

The center has now published a report, Higher Education at a Glance in Jordan 2008 [2], covering key indicators and benchmarks in a bid to compare the status of higher education in Jordan against that in OECD countries. The new report covers the five years between 2001 and 2005. While the rise in educational attainment of the entire adult population has only increased from 9.5 percent to 10 percent, the figure can be expected to rise sharply as the percentage of the population under age 15 is 37 percent, more than double that in Britain.

The strong demand for university degrees, however, has led to an increase in the number of unemployed university graduates, from 12 percent in 2001 to 18 percent in 2005, while the number of unemployed among those who left education after secondary school decreased slightly. Today, 29 percent of unemployed Jordanians have a university degree whereas in 2000, the figure was still below 15 percent.

National Center for Human Resources Development [3]
May 2008


Cornell Graduates First Class in the Gulf

Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar [4] graduated its inaugural class in early May, and in doing so became the first U.S.-based medical school to award its degrees outside the United States.

The nine women and six men in that class came from Bosnia, India, Jordan, Nigeria, the Palestinian territories, Qatar, Syria, and the United States. The graduates, four of whom are from Qatar, will participate in a second commencement ceremony later this month at New York’s Carnegie Hall, along with the rest of Cornell University [5]‘s graduating medical class. Eleven of them will enter medical-residency programs in the United States, three will train in Qatar, and one will pursue research in the United States.

Cornell opened the medical school in 2002 with the support of a US$750-million gift over 11 years from the Qatar Foundation [6], which was created by the emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani. The Qatar Foundation plans to expand the medical school into an American-style academic medical center in 2011 with the addition of a research and clinical center that will focus on women’s and children’s health. The 382-bed Sidra Medical and Research Center, supported by an $8-billion endowment from the foundation, will be located in Education City [7], a multi-institution campus which plays host to five top-tier U.S. universities.

The Chronicle of Higher Education [8]
May 7, 2008

Saudi Arabia

KAUST to Partner with Oxford

Seeking to establish itself as a ‘world-class’ research university from scratch, the new King Abdullah University of Science and Technology [9] (KAUST) recently announced a research partnership agreement with Oxford University [10]. Still under construction, KAUST has also signed faculty development and research partnership agreements with some of the most prestigious universities in the world. Imperial College London [11], Berkeley [12], Stanford [13] and many others have all signed agreements in the last few months.

Oxford has been selected as one of four new Global Research Partnership (GRP) Centers [14]. Funded by KAUST, the aim is to give the new university immediate research capacity; the Centers will assist in setting up labs at KAUST, open classrooms to KAUST students via the internet, conduct joint seminars, training and workshops for junior faculty, exchange faculty and students for teaching and learning opportunities, and participate in curriculum development. Oxford is the only university outside the US to have been selected for a GRP Centre award. The three other GRP awardees are Cornell [5], Stanford and Texas A&M University [15].

The Oxford Center for Collaborative Applied Mathematics (OCCAM) is a US$50 million collaboration which aims to give mathematical scientists from around the world an opportunity to address challenges across the physical and biological sciences. OCCAM’s initial research program will investigate problems such as optimizing the collection of solar energy in deserts, plant growth in hostile environments and engineering replacement body tissue.

KAUST news release [16]
April 29, 2008

United Arab Emirates

MIT to Partner with DAE University

Dubai Aerospace Enterprise University [17] has announced a strategic partnership with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology‘s [18] (MIT) Global Airline Industry Program [19] to introduce global best practices in its aviation curriculum and promote region-specific research on the aviation and aerospace industry. MIT will help in designing the curriculum for DAE University’s aviation degree programs by incorporating competitive simulation games and case studies that are used in MIT courses. MIT will also deliver seminars and short courses specifically focused on the aviation and aerospace industry.

Arabian Business [20]
April 14, 2008

Vetting those Foreign Universities in Dubai

Concerned that the growing number of international institutions of higher education are operating in the emirate’s free education zones without quality regulation, Dubai’s Knowledge and Human Development Authority [21] created the University Quality Assurance International Board [22] (UQAIB). In March the international committee, composed of academics from around the world, was given the mandate to monitor academic standards at Dubai-based foreign branch campuses by ensuring that they meet the standards of the parent university in its domestic setting.

The committee will also vet the applications of those institutions looking to establish themselves in Dubai by making sure there is a standard equivalence between academic programs at home and branch campuses overseas. UQAIB will not be acting as an accreditation body, rather it will provide an audit of quality in higher education in Dubai.

AMEInfo [23]
March 29, 2008

UK University Announces RAK Campus Plans

The University of Bolton [24], Greater Manchester, has announced that it will be beginning classes across a range of disciplines at a new campus in the Ras al Khaimah emirate of the United Arab Emirates. According to its website, the university will be offering undergraduate and graduate programs in Built Environment, Engineering, Business, Computing/Information Technology and Art and Design commencing in September 2008.

The website goes on to explain that these programs will be directly equivalent to those offered at the Bolton campus and will share the same examination boards, quality monitoring process and external verification. All degrees and transcripts will be issued by the University of Bolton, and will be identical to those issued in the UK. A number of lecturers and key staff from the Bolton campus will help establish the campus and curricula.

Bolton news release [25]
April 18, 2008