WENR, April 2011: Middle East
Iran and Other Middle Eastern Nations Show Strong Scientific Research Progress
Iran, Tunisia and Turkey are among a number of countries that have significantly increased scientific research in recent years, according to a new report that has identified rapidly emerging nations “not traditionally associated with a strong science base.”
According to the report, Knowledge, Networks and Nations: Global scientific collaboration in the 21st century, although traditional ‘scientific superpowers’ still lead the field, Iran has been expanding fastest in the number of scientific papers published in peer-reviewed journals. Released in March by Britain’s Royal Society, the report found that Iran had just 736 scientific papers in peer-reviewed journals in 1996 and by 2008, this was 13,238. In addition, other countries are stepping up research output including Tunisia and Turkey.
Turkey has improved its scientific performance “at a rate almost rivaling that of China.” After declaring research a public priority in the 1990s, Turkeys spending on research and development (R&D) increased almost six-fold (between 1995 and 2007) and now Turkey spends more annually than countries like Denmark, Finland or Norway. Tunisia too has increased the percentage of its gross domestic product spent on R&D from 0.03 percent in 1996 to 1.25 percent in 2009, while restructuring its national R&D system to create 624 research units and 139 research laboratories.
Iran recently announced a 15-year comprehensive scientific plan to promote technological development and a knowledge-based economy. “Science must lead to self-actualization,” President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said in February, unveiling the plan to promote long-term sustainable growth in science. The plan focuses on science and technology in the higher education, defense, aerospace and nuclear sectors. The construction of nuclear power plants, nuclear fusion, building and manned missions to space are its main objectives.
– University World News
March 30, 2011
Number of Online Universities Grows in Gulf States
The number of online universities has grown considerably in the Gulf States over the last few years, with a number of new projects aimed at improved technology transfer, narrowing the digital divide and facilitating access to knowledge, speeding the process.
Saudi Arabian officials recently announced plans to establish a distance-learning university in partnership with a number of internationally renowned online institutions. Muhammad Al-Ouhali, the Saudi Deputy Minister for Education Affairs, outlined the plan in Riyadh in February during an international conference on electronic and distance education. Under the plan, centers will be established across the country where students will be able to study at bachelor and masters levels.
“Distance education is not a better choice for all students. However, it serves people who cannot avail of regular education facilities for reasons such as geographical distance, job circumstances and age differences,” Al-Ouhali said.
Hurdles to overcome in the region in establishing online institutions include infrastructural issues, a lack of Arabic language learning materials and technological illiteracy. However, web-based learning is effective specifically in the areas of increasing student motivation, according to a 2010 report from eLearning AP 2010: The Seventh International Conference on e-Learning for Knowledge-Based Society.
– University World News
April 3, 2011
Activists Fight for Egypt’s First Research University
Since the fall of long-standing president Hosni Mubarak in February, protesters in Egypt have been calling for better wages and the removal of university administrators deemed loyal to the former regime. Now students and academics at Nile University, Egypt’s first research university set up in 2007, have taken to the street – but this time, to protect an institution accused of corruption from closure.
Students and staff want the state-owned university to remain in existence after it became caught up in a vehement anti-corruption drive launched by Egypt’s new military rulers. Established by the Ministry of Information Technology as a non-profit academic institution and located in the town of Sheikh Zayed on the outskirts of Cairo, Nile University has attracted graduate students and researchers in fields such as nanotechnology, informatics and software engineering.
A recent decision transferring ownership of the university’s assets from the Ministry of Information Technology to the Fund for Education Development, another governmental body, has disrupted studies at the university.
More than 300 graduate students attend the university, which has been praised for the quality of its education in a country where state-owned universities are often synonymous with poor education. According to Moustafa Ghanem, also a Vice President of the endangered institution, since its inception a few years ago, approximately 50 researchers are working at Nile University and around 700 research papers have been published, including 250 by graduate students,
– University World News
April 10, 2011
Ministry to Rank Universities
The Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research is developing a system to rate public and private universities and programs, according to officials.
Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research Wajih Owais told The Jordan Times that his ministry has “tasked a committee to start drafting the system, and we might cancel subjects in some universities based on the ranking.”
The minister noted that the evaluation criteria have yet to be prepared, adding that the committee is expected to finalize it “soon.” In addition, university admission criteria was to be reviewed in April, adding that minimum admission scores might be lowered to attract a greater number of Arab and foreign students.
March 16, 2011