WENR, August 2012: Middle East


West Bank University Center Granted Full University Status

A special board that oversees Israeli higher education on the West Bank granted fully-fledged university status to the Ariel University Center [1] in July. The decision overruled an earlier recommendation from the Council for Higher Education [2] – the body that typically would recommend on the granting of university status – against such a decision.

University status for the institution has been championed by advocates of Israeli settlements on the West Bank, but has been denounced by many Israeli academics. Some argue that their country doesn’t have enough money for its existing universities. Others fear that granting Ariel university status involves using higher education to promote a more permanent Israeli presence in occupied territories.

In August, three weeks after the Council for Higher Education granted full university status, Israel’s Defense Minister Ehud Barak blocked progress towards making the decision a reality. Since Ariel is in the West Bank, which is under the Israeli Defense Force’s authority, the Central Command must sign the declaration, and may only do so after receiving instructions from Barak. Barak plans to hold meetings in the coming weeks in order to decide whether he supports Ariel University Center’s transition to a full university, but his office would not say when the minister plans to announce his stance on the matter.

Haaretz [3]
July 17, 2012
The Jerusalem Post [4]
August 9, 2012


Government Looks to Reduce Number of University Graduates

Reducing the number of students attending four-year universities and redirecting them to technical and vocational education is the main goal of the National Higher Education Strategy, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research Wajih Owais said in August.

“The majority of Tawjihi [school] graduates in Jordan want to join universities regardless of the subjects they study or the potential for finding job opportunities after graduation,” Owais told The Jordan Times in a recent interview, adding that although the job market is saturated with graduates from many four-year degree programs, “people insist on joining universities”.

Having too many students at universities, including some who would be better suited to technical rather than academic education, degrades the level of learning at these institutions and causes other social problems, the minister said. The strategy therefore envisages reducing the number of enrollees at universities from 95 percent to 70 percent of school graduates within 10 years, he explained.

– Jordan Times
August 6, 2012


Harvard to Help Build Law School

Leaders in Qatar say they plan on establishing a world-class law school as part of Hamad Bin Khalifa University, which includes Doha’s Education City. The Qatar Foundation [5], which finances and oversees the university, has approached Harvard Law School’s Institute for Global Law and Policy [6] to provide advice on the development of the new school’s academic program, admissions policy, and administration. According to current plans, the school will offer doctoral programs and a research institute.

The institute will also hold workshops [7] in Qatar for legal scholars and researchers. Several American universities operate branch campuses at Education City, including Carnegie Mellon, [8] Northwestern [9], and Texas A&M [10].

Gulf News [11]
July 29, 2012

United Arab Emirates

Australian University to Help Establish First Doctoral Training Center

The University of Wollongong in Dubai [12] will work with the National Research Foundation [13] (NRF) in the United Arab Emirates to establish the country’s first doctoral training center.

The new UAE Doctoral Training Center will focus on building sustainable research partnerships with government, industry and other universities as well as providing high-quality graduate education, while also looking to address the lack of doctoral training in the UAE and improve retention rates of students already in doctoral programs.

The Center will also look to create uniform research standards; host conferences to facilitate interaction between graduate students and supervisors from various universities; and set up doctoral student networks, providing an electronic platform to facilitate ongoing communication between students at different universities.

Trade Arabia [14]
July 1, 2012

Michigan State Reemerges in Dubai

After the well-publicized 2010 demise of Michigan State University’s international branch campus in Dubai International Academic City [15] – just three years after its opening in 2007 and before graduating a single student – it quietly relocated to a smaller space at Dubai Knowledge Village [16], a sister site to DIAC, and continued to offer a single master’s program in human resources and labor relations.

And now it is adding new programs. Last year it added a program in public health, while a recent article [17] from The National reports that two additional programs will be added in the coming year: a master’s of law and master’s of jurisprudence.

The National article reports that MSU-Dubai is only offering a small number of programs and only adding those that appear to meet a clear local demand. The new legal programs, for example, meet the needs of those in the local workforce who need an advanced understanding of U.S. and international legal issues because of their work with multinational corporations. The renewed campus is also making community engagement a priority – offering health seminars, professional trainings, and, next January, an international conference on higher education.

The National [17]
July 13, 2012