WENR, March 2012: Middle East
Even More Branch Campuses
The Observatory on International Education, a U.K.-based research organization, released an addendum to its annual report from January, ‘International Branch Campuses: Data and Developments,’ adding to a list of 37 planned campuses that it had identified. Most of these campuses are due to open this year or in 2013.
In the intervening six weeks, the Observatory has come across more planned branch campuses in a range of countries, including Cyprus, Egypt, Italy, Malaysia, Thailand and UAE.
In Egypt, the Technische Universität Berlin (TU Berlin) announced in January that it will set up a campus in Gouna, starting operations in October 2012. And in the UAE it was announced in February that the Agricultural University of Athens will establish a branch campus in Dubai in partnership with Hail Agriculture. The operation is expected to be launched in September and will be the first overseas campus of a Greek institution. It will be hosted in Dubai Knowledge Village and will award Greek degrees. Taught subjects will include biotechnology, nanotechnology, food preservation, agricultural and livestock science, with an emphasis on camel breeding.
Second Phase of Bahrain Qualifications Framework Launched in Collaboration with Scottish Authorities
Bahrain’s Quality Assurance Authority for Education and Training (QAAET), and the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) signed an agreement in March to launch the second phase of the Bahraini Qualifications Framework (BQF).
Under the agreement, a BQF unit will be established within QAAET with the SQA taking on the responsibility of implementing the main processes for this task. The BQF unit at QAAET is expected to commence operations by 2014.
The BQF aims to clarify the relationship between academic and professional qualifications offered by the various educational and training establishments in the Kingdom across all levels and specializations, with a view toward promoting awareness of the importance of learning outcomes and understanding the needs and demands of the labour market.
March 25, 2012
United Arab Emirates
Ensuring Quality at Education Hubs
According to experts speaking at an International Finance Corporation conference in Dubai in March, quality is the biggest challenge for the higher education hubs in the United Arab Emirates. Additional problems raised include high school graduates that are inadequately prepared for university studies, programs that are not culturally and economically relevant to the region, and the lack of a national framework to regulate the quality of private institutions in the country’s economic free zones.
This was the view of Warren Fox, executive director of higher education at the Knowledge Human Development Authority (KHDA), who spoke at a panel discussion at the IFC conference “Making Global Connections.”
Fox explained that when the KHDA was established five years ago, and its University Quality Assurance International Board (UQAIB) was set up four years ago, all universities in the Dubai free zones were assessed. At the beginning of that process some campuses did not meet UQAIB standards and were asked to leave. Some of those then went on to set up shop in other emirates, which, Fox explained, suggests a need “for more national planning.”
The KHDA is a Dubai government body that issues permits to all private schools and free zone universities operating in Dubai. Each emirate oversees its own free zone institutions. UQAIB looks at the quality of programs offered by foreign higher education providers to ensure equivalence in relation to the home campus. Universities outside the free zones are regulated by the Commission for Academic Accreditation at the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research.
Fox said other barriers to becoming a true education hub are the proprietary nature and unwillingness of higher education providers to collaborate, allow credit transfer or share students.
The UAE is currently home to 37 branch campuses – the highest number among 200 worldwide – followed by Singapore with 18, China with 17, Qatar with 10 and Malaysia with seven. According to a recent report by the Parthenon Group there are 120,000 tertiary students currently enrolled in the UAE, with 78,000 registered in private institutions.
– University World News
March 9, 2012
Smaller Emirates Investing in Research
The oil-rich emirates of Abu Dhabi and Dubai have been leading the way in moving the United Arab Emirates away from a reliance on oil and towards a knowledge economy, but now a smaller and less affluent emirate is investing in research, which to this point has largely been ignored in favor of academic instruction, with only a few institutions supporting research activities.
According to Ala’a Al Deen Ali, from the office of strategic affairs at the Abu Dhabi Education Council, the country invests less than 0.01% of its gross domestic product in research and development. By comparison, Israel invests more than 4%, while the US and Germany invest around 2.6%.
More recently, however, smaller and less wealthy emirates like Ras Al Khaimah have started investing more in R&D. In 2009 its ruler Sheikh Saud Bin Saqr Al Qasimi established the Sheikh Saud Bin Saqr Al Qasimi Foundation for Policy Research. The center aims to address topics of relevance for the emirate and those of the country as a whole to improve economic and social development. Last year, the University of Pennsylvania’s Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program ranked the foundation as one of the top new think tanks in the world. Improving the quality of education is its primary goal.
To improve the existing body of research, the organization set up a scholarship program to attract international doctoral students. Doctoral students from America, Canada, Europe and Australia who do not have the funding to go abroad, can approach the foundation to conduct research that will benefit Ras Al Khaimah.
– University World News
March 4, 2012