WENR, April 2009: Middle East
Editorial Note: Web links have been removed from this page due to outdated third-party web content.
US Students in Middle East Remain a Rarity
Despite a continued increase in enrollment in Middle East studies and Arabic-language programs at U.S. universities, the number of American students traveling to the region remains low, according to a report issued in March by the Institute of International Education.
The report, “Expanding U.S. Study Abroad in the Arab World: Challenges and Opportunities,” explained that the lack of U.S. students at Arab institutions is due to a number of factors, including concerns about safety, academic quality of many Arab institutions, and the challenges of learning Arabic.
Currently just one percent of U.S. students (2,200) engaging in study abroad programs do so in the region, the report notes, with 80 percent of those students studying in Egypt, Jordan, and Morocco.
– Institute of International Education
March 19, 2009
The U.S. government has announced a new million-dollar scholarship program to help Palestinian students enroll at Palestinian and American universities.
The announcement was made by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during her visit to the Middle East in March. The four-year program will support approximately 10 scholarships each year for disadvantaged students to attend four-year courses at Palestinian universities. A State Department official told The Chronicle that the program will also offer 25 “opportunity grants” to enable promising but disadvantaged young Palestinians to apply to American-accredited institutions in the United States or the Middle East.
Once funds are approved by Congress, Mrs. Clinton hopes to begin the program in the 2010-11 academic year.
– The Chronicle of Higher Education
March 9, 2009
UK Campus on the Horizon
According to a recent article in the Times Higher Education Supplement, the Gulf state of Qatar is in advanced talks with a British university as it seeks to continue what it has called “perhaps the most ambitious project ever known to transform a society through education and research”.
If the deal goes through, the British campus will join six US universities in Qatar’s capital, Doha. The unnamed institution would be the first university from outside the United States to open a branch in Education City, a 2,500-acre state-of-the-art campus on the outskirts of the capital.
Compared to other international branch campus projects in the region, Qatar’s Education City offers much less risk as capital costs have been covered entirely by the government through the Qatar Foundation, a private non-profit body established to develop education in the emirate.
There are currently 1,200 students enrolled at the six existing US higher education institutions operating in Education City. Those include Carnegie Mellon, Cornell and Texas A&M universities. An important aspect of the ambitious Qatar project is its focus on developing original research relevant to the region. As such, Qatar has dedicated approximately 2.8 percent of its gross domestic product to research.
– The Times Higher Education Supplement
March 12, 2009
United Arab Emirates
Indian University to Open Campus in RAK
The University of Pune (UP), one of India’s biggest and best state universities, has announced plans to set up a campus in 2009 in the emirate of Ras Al Khaimah to start offering Indian-accredited degree programs. The university will be working with local partner Edulink Consultants, a Dubai-based education consultancy firm.
Ras Al Khaimah is positioning itself as a regional education hub, a goal which suffered a major setback recently with an announcement from George Mason University that it would be closing its branch campus there after just two years of operations.
The UP campus will offer a mix of undergraduate and graduate programs. It is currently accepting applications in anticipation of a September 2009 opening.
– Al Bawaba
February 8, 2009
After George Mason Closure, Universities Warn of Further Trouble Ahead
After the high profile announcement in February that George Mason University’s branch campus in Ras al Khaimah (RAK) will close at the end of the semester, overseas universities with a presence in the United Arab Emirates have warned that more branch campuses may close because of a shortage of students.
Competition to attract applicants with the necessary English-language skills has intensified with at least 58 universities operating in the United Arab Emirates.
Raymi van der Spek, vice president of administration at the University of Wollongong in Dubai, told The Nation, a local English-language newspaper that “Many have come in with far too ambitious targets and I can see more closures.” Van der Spek added: “I don’t believe their numbers are where they expected them to be. There are too many institutions, which fragments the number of students that each can attract.”
The market for international students is “quite competitive”, said Zubair Hanslot, academic director of the University of Bolton’s RAK campus. He added that universities with modest admission requirements, such as Bolton, are better positioned to grow than more selective institutions.
The expansion of higher education in the UAE has been fuelled by the creation of three major education zones: Dubai Knowledge Village, Dubai International Academic City and the RAK Free Trade Zone. There are 28 schools in the two Dubai free zones. Abu Dhabi has not allowed large numbers of university branches to open, although the Paris-Sorbonne University has launched a campus and New York University plans another.
– The National
March 9, 2009
Engaging the Region Without the Headache of Opening a Branch Campus
The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that this fall, the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, the “first graduate-level research university devoted entirely to fostering renewable, clean, and sustainable sources of energy,” will open in Abu Dhabi.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has worked with Masdar as a consultant and developer. The new institute will enroll a few dozen students for its opening semester, with an eventual goal of building enrollment to 800 master’s and Ph.D. students. The institute will also build a large clean-energy community around the institute, to be known as Masdar City.
MIT’s involvement is considered a relatively low-risk investment and offers what may become a more common model for American institutions looking to extend their influence abroad, yet mitigate risk: the behind-the-scenes consultant. For $40-million, MIT agreed to a five-year commitment in which it would help build the Masdar Institute from scratch.
– The Chronicle of Higher Education
March 27, 2009