WENR, October 2011: Middle East

Europe Expands Regional Mobility Program to Include Students from Middle East

The European Commission announced in September that it will allocate 66 million euro (US$90 million) to extending its Erasmus Mundus [1] higher education mobility and collaboration program to support European Neighbourhood [2] countries, in response to the recent uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East.

The initiative [3] is aimed at broadening European ties with its neighbors to the east and south, following a comprehensive review of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP), launched in 2010. The commission says strengthened educational collaboration will be a crucial element of the new approach towards the ENP countries. The funding will be spread over the next four years.

The commission argued that, as most European Neighbourhood Policy countries are in the process of working towards establishing fully-fledged market economies, higher education institutions are under strong pressure to provide the skills required by new economic conditions. The Erasmus Mundus extension is one aspect of a four-part plan, outlined in September to respond to the Arab Spring. The flagship initiative is the Support to Partnership, Reform and Inclusive Growth (SPRING) Programme [4], adopted in September.

Currently the Erasmus Mundus program provides support to universities that wish to implement joint graduate degrees or set up partnerships between universities from Europe and targeted partner countries. It also supports individual students, researchers and university staff who wish to spend a study or research or teaching period in the context of one of these joint programs.

University World News [5]
September 27, 2011


Tight Job Market Breeds Diploma Fraud

Last year, an investigation by the Iraqi Parliament found that more than 5,000 government officials had lied about their education, including government ministers and members of Parliament.

Iraqis from the regions have flocked to Baghdad in recent years as the government has slowly been rebuilt, hoping to become civil servants, jobs that come with significant salaries and perks. The problem for these people, however, is that by law government workers have to have completed certain levels of education.

Many people seeking jobs in the reformulated government have lacked the appropriate diplomas, but have been able to exploit the fact that many public documents were destroyed after the fall of the Hussein government. Without adequate records about who has graduated from which school, many Iraqis have pressed school officials to sign documents that say they have graduated from schools that they have never even attended. Some school administrators resisted the pressure to issue fraudulent documents, and some were threatened as a result. Meanwhile, the post-Hussein government began to fill with unqualified employees, many of whom had not finished elementary school.

Education fraud has become so widespread that Parliament is considering legislation that would send people to prison for six to 12 years if convicted of lying about their education.

New York Times [6]
November 11, 2011


Israeli Institute to Partner with Cornell in Bid to Create Science Campus in New York

Cornell University [7] announced in October that it would partner with the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, [8] when it bids for city support in building a 2,000-student “applied sciences” graduate campus in New York City.

The two institutions would be bidding against other universities, including Stanford [9], to create what they would call the Technion-Cornell Innovation Institute, through which they would offer dual degrees and carry out joint research. The institute would be a centerpiece of a proposed NYC Tech Campus, which Cornell is seeking to create in New York City.

Cornell Chronicle [10]
October 11, 2011


Displaced International Medical Students Promised Places in Jordan

Responding to protests by Jordanian students who had to end their medical or dental educations in Libya and Yemen, Jordan’s government has pledged to find the 750 displaced students spots at one of the nation’s four medical schools.

Those students in the first, second or third years will be offered night classes, while those who were further along will be placed in regular classes. The Council of Ministers left it to the Higher Education Commission to decide the requirements for admitting students of other majors who returned from Yemen and Libya due to the ongoing violence in the two Arab states.

The Jordan Times [11]
October 9, 2011

United Arab Emirates

French university to Offer Doctoral Degrees

Students at the Higher Colleges of Technology [12] (HCT) will soon have the opportunity to study a Doctorate of Business Administration (DBA) from the Grenoble Business Schoo [13]l, after a partnership agreement was recently signed between the two institutions.

The joint degree agreement was aided by the work of CampusFrance [14], the French government agency responsible for promoting French higher education abroad, which recently opened an office in Abu Dhabi.

HCT News Release [15]
September 26, 2011

UAE Tightens Accreditation Standards

The Commission for Academic Accreditation [16] has published new and tighter standards for institutional licensure and program accreditation at the tertiary level as part of a government strategy to build a world-class education system.

The 2011 Standards for Institutional Licensure and Program Accreditation have criteria covering internal quality assurance, governance, learning resources and use of technology, admission of students, qualifications of teaching staff, equipment and buildings, and the information on the curriculum that must be made available to students. Institutions will also be required to undertake community engagement.

Universities and colleges will make facilities and expertise available to benefit the community at large. At the same time, they must investigate local employers’ needs for specific knowledge and skills that should be acquired by graduates, the report said. From November, any proposals for new institutions or study programs must be submitted for approval in full compliance with the 2011 Standards.

– Gulf Today
September 23, 2011