WENR, February 2014: Middle East


Persian Gulf Countries to Lead Increases in International School Enrollments

New statistics from the International School Consultancy Group [1] (ISC) show that the market is predicted to continue to see significant growth in 2014 with numbers reaching 7,200 international schools teaching over 3.7 million students in English by the end of 2014.

Within 10 years, ISC predicts there will be over 11,000 international schools teaching 6.3 million students. Last year, international schools generated US $34 billion in annual fee income according to ISC and are increasingly becoming recruitment channels for overseas higher education providers and universities.

The Middle East, including Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Qatar are predicted to see continued and increased growth in enrollments, along with parts of South America, especially Brazil. However, the biggest growth is predicted to come from China, where demand and ability to pay are combining with recent changes to laws allowing Chinese-foreign cooperation programs to enroll both Chinese nationals and foreign students.

Wealthy local parents who want to prepare their children for foreign university degrees make up 80 percent of the demand for international school enrollments– a significant change from 20 years ago when, according to ISC, most schools were dominated by expatriate students.

According to ISC, several UK independent schools and a number of the proprietary school groups which own multiple international schools have plans to expand their brands significantly in the next few years. ISC currently knows of 180 international schools planned and under construction.

The PIE News [2]
January 14, 2014


Universities See Thousands of Student Protests in 2013

Universities in Egypt have witnessed a huge upsurge in student protests since the start of the 2013/14 academic year in September, in response to educational issues and in support of the country’s first elected civilian president – former professor Mohamed Morsi – who was ousted by the military last July, reports University World News.

Details about numbers, motives and places of student protests were outlined in a Democracy Index report published in December by The Economist Intelligence Unit, and reported [3] by the Middle East Monitor. The report reveals that there were 1,122 student protests carried out at universities and schools in the three months from September, with numbers escalating to November.

The Economist Intelligence Unit report indicated that political and educational demands were behind most of the student protests. The main political demand in November was for the release of university professors who had been arrested during protests held in support of Mohamed Morsi, who became the first university professor to rule a country in the Arab world in 2012.

In early December, Minister of Higher Education and Deputy Prime Minister Hossam Eissa “downplayed the effect of protests” on education at universities, saying that only five had been experiencing protests, Daily News Egypt reported [4]. The minister said that examinations would not be affected by the protests.

University World News [5]
December 20, 2013


Nuclear Deal Helps Iranian Students Studying Internationally

Among the beneficiaries of the interim nuclear agreement with Iran that went into effect recently are Iranian students abroad and the Western educational institutions which are already seeing rising interest from Iran, according to a recent report from the Voice of America.

A senior Barack Obama administration official told reporters: “We’ve committed that up to US$400 million of Iran’s own money can be directed through a financial channel that we will agree on to universities and colleges outside Iran where Iranian students are studying.” This decision to set up a clear path for tuition and associated payments will come as a huge relief to Iranians who have struggled to establish accounts in U.S. banks and to find a way to legally transfer funds from Iran.

While much attention has focused on technical matters, the mere fact of the interim agreement is a major milestone and potential tipping point in Iran’s fraught relations with the United States. Lessening tensions also sends a signal to young Iranians that they will be welcome in U.S. colleges and universities and promotes intercultural understanding crucial to easing the 35-year estrangement between the two countries.

Already, steps taken by the U.S. government in recent years have contributed to a steady increase in Iranian students [6] in the U.S., from just under 7,000 in 2012 to nearly 9,000 last year. The Educational and Cultural Affairs Bureau of the State Department facilitated the rise [7] by putting information about higher education in the U.S. on the Internet at the website of the “virtual” U.S. Embassy for Iran [8]. Since May 2011, the U.S. has also offered two-year, multiple entry visas to Iranian students instead of three-month, single entry visas, making study abroad much more attractive and practical.

Voice of America [9]
January 22, 2014

United Arab Emirates

Michigan State Dubai Hosts Second Annual International Education Conference

The current critique of offshore education as simply a training center for local labor was challenged at Michigan State University’s second Dubai International Conference in Higher Education, “Sustaining Success Through Innovation,” reports University World News.

The event [10] was held in Dubai’s Knowledge Village in late January and brought together almost 200 delegates from 30 nations. A broad range of presentations showcased research on the student experience, quality assurance and distance learning.

The conference also served as publicity for Michigan State’s Dubai campus [11], which never actually closed down in 2008 as many believe, but moved from Dubai’s Academic City to the Knowledge Village, albeit as a smaller entity offering a limited number of programs.

University World News [12]
January 21, 2014