WENR, February 2012: Middle East


Gulf States Plan Regional Quality Assurance Network

The Gulf states are planning to set up a network for quality assurance in higher education to reinforce the quality of education and academic accreditation in the region. The network, proposed by Oman, was outlined in a statement approved at the 15th meeting of the committee of higher education and research ministers of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

It will promote awareness of quality management and quality enhancement practices, dissemination of best practices, and stronger liaison between quality assurance bodies in different GCC countries. It will also provide a platform to bring policy-makers, higher education institutions and quality assurance agencies to share experience and ideas. To achieve control over 136 private higher education institutions, the meeting called for the development of guiding criteria regarding the equivalence of higher education certificates, to be presented to GCC leaders at their next summit in Bahrain.

University World News [1]
February 5, 2012


German University to Establish Campus in Egypt

The Technische Universität Berlin [2] (TU Berlin) announced in January the launch of its first international campus, to be located in Gouna on the Red Sea in Egypt. The TU Berlin Campus will be focused on scientific research aimed at providing solutions to regional problems through specialized graduate programs, especially in the field of applied technologies for sustainable development.

The TU Berlin Campus Gouna is a non-profit private-public partnership, founded in collaboration with Orascom Hotels and Development and slated to begin classes in October. While the emphasis will be on applied technologies for sustainable development and tackling regional challenges such as scarce natural resources, population growth and urbanization, the programs will be international in nature and accessible to applicants from around the world.

The campus will begin by offering master of science degrees in energy engineering, water engineering, and urban development. Each program will look to enroll 30 students per year over four semesters; and faculty professors from TUB will teach all courses in English.

– Daily News Egypt
January 12, 2012


Iraq and U.S. Universities Strengthen Commitment to Partnership Building

University officials from Iraq and the United States pledged in February to deepen their academic ties despite the significant challenges that continue to face them in increasing opportunities for Iraqi students to study in America and in creating dynamic university partnerships.

During a conference in Washington D.C. organized by the Iraqi Embassy and supported by the U.S. State Department, government officials from both countries emphasized the need to rebuild the Iraqi higher-education system, which historically has been one of the strongest in the region.

Leaders from 11 universities and representatives from over 40 American institutions worked on collaboration plans, with a primary focus being the improvement of Iraq’s scholarship programs. Currently, more than 500 Iraqis are studying at the graduate level on American campuses under government scholarships.

Both sides believe the process could be better. For Iraqis, student-visa requirements are overly burdensome, while costs such as English-language test-taking fees can often be too expensive. American university officials have had trouble with the red tape of dealing with three scholarship programs operated separately by the Iraqi higher-education ministry, the prime minister’s office, and the Kurdish regional government. For example, the programs allow for different lengths of time for doctoral students to complete their degrees and for students to gain proficiency in English. Meanwhile getting adequate documentation of prior learning can be highly problematic, some U.S. administrators said.

Addressing issues with English proficiency, the State Department is funding the establishment of an English-language institute in Baghdad to train Iraqi scholarship students before they go abroad. Ball State University [3] has been awarded $1 million to turn a former U.S. Army facility into the institute and to send language instructors to Iraq.

The Chronicle of Higher Education [4]
February 22, 2012


Houston Community College Faces Gender and Accreditation Issues in Qatar

Houston Community College’s [5] efforts to help create a community college in Qatar have faced numerous obstacles, including the requirement that courses be taught separately to men and women (contrary to the contract signed between the college and Qatar).

Most Western colleges and universities operating branches elsewhere have made a point of saying that they would follow the same commitments to sexual equity that they use on their main campuses. The new college has also faced accreditation difficulties, high faculty turnover and other problems, according to a recent article in the Houston Chronicle.

Enrollment has reached 750 students, less than two years after HCC signed an agreement with the Qatari government to create that nation’s first community college. But students have not received HCC credits for their classes there – a cornerstone of the promises made when the partnership was announced – and for now it appears unlikely their coursework will transfer to the six U.S. universities with operations in Qatar. After months of student protests, a deal signed last month will allow graduates of the new community college to enroll in Qatar University [6].

With more than 70,000 students, HCC is one of the nation’s largest community college systems. Over the past decade, it has become increasingly involved in international ventures, as well, with projects in Vietnam, Saudi Arabia, Brazil and Qatar.

The Houston Chronicle [7]
February 4, 2012