WENR, October 2013: Middle East


Middle East and Asia Prove Popular as Transnational Education Locations

new report [1] from the British Council ranks countries according to how favorable their climates are for transnational higher education and evaluates the impact of cross-border education on host countries. Overall, the report finds that transnational education is “continuing to expand at a brisk pace; both in terms of scale — programs and student enrollment — and scope — diversity of delivery modes and location of delivery.”

Among the various forms of transnational higher education included within the scope of the report are international branch campuses, franchise or twinning programs (in which a sending university authorizes a host institution to deliver its curriculum), joint or double degree programs, and articulation agreements.

The British Council report assesses policy and market conditions in 25 host countries, finding that Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates have the most favorable environments for transnational education. The report categorizes each of the 25 countries into five groups based on the opportunities they provide for incoming TNE; countries in group 1 provide the greatest opportunities (“well above average”) and countries in group 5 the fewest (“well below average”). The 25 countries in the sample include established host nations for TNE, such as China, Qatar, Singapore and the U.A.E. — all of which boast large numbers of international branch campuses — as well as countries that the report’s authors believe to be new or emerging TNE hosts.

Climate for Transnational Education Education (TNE) Around the World
Group 1: Well Above Average Group 2: Above Average Group 3: Average Group 4: Below Average Group 5: Well Below Average
Hong Kong Qatar Botswana Brazil Nepal
Malaysia South Korea Bahrain Indonesia Sri Lanka
Singapore China Mexico
United Arab Emirates India Nigeria
Mauritius Pakistan
Oman Poland
Spain Russia
Thailand Turkey


Among other things, the report also finds that nearly half of the countries analyzed do not have a dedicated agency with responsibility for transnational education. “This reflects the fact that TNE is simply not a policy priority in these countries,” the report says. “In many countries the policy focus remains squarely on student mobility.”

The British Council’s research also finds that transnational education is developing in some countries, like Nepal and Sri Lanka, in the absence of a regulatory framework. Per the report, “The evidence from this research suggests a complex push-and-pull relationship between TNE activity and TNE regulations, where TNE activity reaches a certain critical mass and elicits a regulatory response from the government. While TNE regulations are not a requirement for TNE activity to take place, they have an important role to play in relation to quality assurance and recognition of qualification and for ensuring the sustainability of TNE going forward. The top opportunity markets identified in this research are those with, or moving towards, a system of robust policy and regulatory oversight.”

Inside Higher Ed [2]
September 6, 2013


Government to Send 5,000 Former Revolutionaries Abroad to Study

As part of the reconstruction process in civil war-damaged Libya, 5,000 former rebels will be sent to study abroad this year, according to Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research Mohamed Hassan Abu Bakr. They are the first of 18,000 revolutionaries who are registered and eligible for study abroad.

“The program aims at building a new Libya. It is a move from a military era to one of knowledge and construction of the country,” Sagezli was quoted in Libya Herald as saying. Currently there are 18,000 former revolutionaries registered with the Warrior Affairs Commission, which said priority would be given to those who already had diplomas and-or were disabled as a results of injuries sustained during fighting.

The Libyan government agreed in April to send 18,000 registered revolutionaries to continue studies abroad – especially in Arab states, Europe and the United States – and the 5,000 represent the first batch. They will be followed by 4,000 more in 2014, 4,500 in 2015 and 4,500 in 2016. The period of study will be three years for a masters degree and four years for a PhD, completely funded by the government and in fields related to Libya’s development needs.

University World News [3]
September 6, 2013


Qatar Foundation Signs Research Agreement With British Council

An agreement to establish a high-level bilateral forum on research and education was signed by the UK Higher Education International Unit, British Council, Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development and UK Department for Business, Innovation and Skills in September.

The agreement came as part of the Qatar UK 2013 Year of Culture [4]. The memorandum of understanding commits the two countries to working in close partnership on developing new research projects, expanding the knowledge base of Qatar and the UK, and promoting an enterprise and innovation culture. The aim is to develop a long-term cultural, science and education legacy from the Qatar UK 2013 Year of Culture and strengthen bilateral and regional cooperation.

International Unit [5]
September 2013

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Universities Offer Temporary Study Places to Syrian Students

The Saudi government has launched a special program to help students from Syria enroll at Saudi universities. It is described by Arab News as a humanitarian gesture. Official approval has been granted to Syrian students who cannot continue university education due to the worsening situation in their country.

“The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Program has been set up to enroll Syrian students at Saudi universities in view of the tragic state of the country,” a source said. The proposal to set up the committee was put forward by the Higher Education Ministry to benefit Syrians who have sought shelter in the kingdom. “The period of enrolment in any of the 25 universities in the kingdom will be for one academic year but could be extended,” the source said, adding that the ministry made the suggestion following requests from members of the Union of Free Syrian Students.

All 25 universities have been issued with orders to increase seats for various programs to accommodate Syrian students.

Arab News [6]
August 27, 2013


Funding for U.S. Consortium to Aid Syrian Students and Scholars Grows

The Institute of International Education (IIE) announced in September an expansion of its consortium [7], which aims to raise funds to provide emergency scholarships and fellowships to Syrian students and scholars.

The partnering organizations have committed $3 million and plan to raise another $4 million in university commitments and funds to, among other things, pay for 600 scholarships for Syrian students: 200 scholarships for Syrian students in Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq, 100 in other countries in the Middle East and North Africa region, 100 in North America, 100 in Europe, and 100 in Latin America.

IIE estimates that in 2012-13, the first year of the effort, the consortium raised $3.8 million in assistance for approximately 100 Syrian scholars and students.

Inside Higher Ed [8]
September 25, 2013

United Arab Emirates

Emirates Ranked as Top Host Country of Branch Campuses

According to figures compiled by The Observatory on Borderless Higher Education [9] in 2012 and published in the Chronicle of Higher Education’s Almanac of Higher Education [10] this year, the United Arab Emirates hosted more international branch campuses than any other country in 2011, and by a large margin.

Colleges in the United States have established far more international branch campuses than have those from any other nation, but colleges on three other continents originated at least a few such branches.

Top 10 International Branch Campus (IBC) Host Countries
Rank Host Country/Territory Total
1 United Arab Emirates 37
2 Singapore 18
3 China 17
4 Qatar 10
5 Malaysia 7
6 India 5
7 Mauritius 5
8 Canada 4
9 Hong Kong 4
10 Japan 4


Top 10 International Branch Campus (IBC) Host Countries
Rank Source Country Total
1 United States 78
2 France 27
3 Britain 25
4 India 17
5 Australia 12
6 Iran 6
7 Malaysia 6
8 Netherlands 6
9 Canada 4
10 Ireland 3


Chronicle of Higher Education [11]
Almanac 2013

UAE Universities Go in Search of Chinese Students

Rather than choose popular study destinations like Australia, Britain or the United States, a small but growing number of Chinese students are choosing to apply to the outposts of foreign universities in the United Arab Emirates.

University campuses in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and elsewhere in the Emirates are trying to attract more students by sending recruitment teams to China, which has become the top source of international students in the world.

“This will be our first year of looking at China from a student recruitment perspective, we’re still in the early stages of understanding the huge potential there,” said Leigh Ann Jones-Khosla, business development director at the Dubai International Academic City [12], a “free zone” home to 21 universities enrolling a combined 20,000 students, tax-free and under 100 percent foreign ownership.

“We need to go to China, be there on the ground, meet people working in higher education, and understand the main reasons why half a million Chinese students pursue university abroad each year,” said Ms. Jones-Khosla in an interview with The New York Times. “We need to promote Dubai as a place they can easily get student visas and find jobs upon graduation.”

Ms. Jones-Khosla is planning to attend the China Education Expo [13] this year for the first time as a representative of the DIAC universities. The Expo is an annual recruitment fair held in November in Beijing, Shanghai and three other Chinese cities.

At the recently opened Abu Dhabi campus [14] of New York University, there are currently 27 Chinese students. With a new NYU campus opening in Shanghai [15] this fall, enrollments and transfers to Abu Dhabi from China are likely to grow.

Emirates and other airlines based in the Gulf region are adding more frequent routes to and from China as they position themselves as intercontinental travel hubs and as Chinese tourism rises. Data from Jones Lang LaSalle, a real estate and hotel consulting firm, show that 214,000 Chinese tourists visited Dubai in 2011, up from 25,000 a decade earlier. The Chinese expatriate community in Dubai numbered about 180,000, or 2.2 percent of the UAE’s population, in 2011, according to local newspaper reports.

“We want to see a significant number of Chinese students here, to mirror the decent Chinese population that already exists,” said Ms. Khosla-Jones. “They’re all after something they can find here more readily than in other economies these days: jobs.”

The New York Times [16]
September 15, 2013