WENR, October 2014: Middle East

Ranking Universities in the Middle East

A comprehensive ranking for institutions in the Middle East does yet exist, but University World News reports that the situation will soon be rectified as US News, the QS Intelligence Unit and Times Higher Education develop university rankings for the Middle East and North Africa. The so-called MENA region is the latest target for the publications, with US News and QS aiming for Fall 2014 release dates.

The introduction of ranking systems to the MENA region is fulfilling the aspirations of newly emerging institutions, particularly those of the wealthy countries of the Gulf such as Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar. These states have made higher education a growing service industry in the region and a fundamental element in their strategies to diversify their economies away from petroleum resources.

In addition to large public universities, several of these countries have successfully attracted international branch campuses, providing subsidies or high-tech facilities to attract prestigious institutions and experimenting with innovative public sector instruments such as ‘free zones’ to attract others.

While ranking has the potential to market the wealthy Gulf universities, it may also hold unexpected benefits for the dozens of international branch campuses in the region. Under current plans, international branch campuses will be ranked as independent entities rather than borrowing the prestige of the home campus or the broader reputation of its home country.

Ranking promises prestige for relatively new Gulf universities and it is not surprising that the US News ranking project received support and assistance from the Qatar Foundation – a funding source with significant investments in education.

University World News
September 19, 2014

Egypt: Government Releases Strategic Plan for Higher Education

Egypt has announced a US$5.87 billion, eight-year higher education plan – to run in two phases from 2014 to 2022 and including 61 initiatives – aimed at producing more market-ready graduates and promoting a knowledge-based economy.

The Plan for Higher Education, which includes creating five new universities a year, was unveiled by Minister of Higher Education Al-Sayyed Abdel-Khaleq in early August.

According to the strategic planning unit of the Ministry of Higher Education, the sector in Egypt incorporates 22 public universities and hundreds of higher education institutes and technical colleges that are run under the ministry’s supervision. There are 21 private universities. The state universities employ 70,497 academics to teach more than 2.11 million undergraduate and graduate students.

The plan promotes legislative reform and improved governance of higher education, restructuring the national system, human resource development, increased availability of and access to universities across Egypt’s geographic areas, and the expansion of technical and technological education within universities and institutes.

The plan also concentrates on increasing the number of Egyptian and foreign university students – especially from Arab, Islamic and African states – through the establishment of five new universities each year. Egypt is ranked as the second student destination in the Arab world after the United Arab Emirates and 19th among the top 20 destinations for international students in the world, according to UNESCO.

Among the first steps in implementing the plan was an August agreement to establish a Korean university in Egypt and a subsequent August announcement that a committee would be created to support the establishment of a university of applied technology.

University World News
August 29, 2014

Iraq: At Least Eight Universities Closed Due to Advance of Extremist Fighters

Eight universities across northern Iraq have been shuttered and appear unlikely to open soon after the sweep of extremist fighters through the region.

After students and faculty members fled the advance of militants from the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, the fighters have settled into dormitories on at least one campus and Iraqi soldiers are using another campus as a base. The Iraqi government is trying to cope with refugee students flooding campuses still under government control.

“The situation is tragic,” said Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research Ali Al-Adeeb, who gave the number of eight closed institutions during an August 21 address to the Iraqi parliament. Major campuses like Al Fallujah University, University of Mosul and Tikrit University are closed.

August 22, 2014

United Arab Emirates: Report Shows UK Transnational Education Booming in UAE

The number of students studying for a British transnational education award in the United Arab Emirates has seen strong growth over the past few years. This includes a 37 percent increase in students during the past two years – bringing to 15,000 the number studying there for UK awards.

The UK Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education, or QAA, has just released the findings of a Review of UK Transnational Education in United Arab Emirates: Overview. It looks at higher education programs that lead to awards from UK universities or colleges. There were also visits to 10 institutions in the UAE and meetings with students as well as staff based in the United Kingdom and in the UAE.

The UK has nine branch campuses and is the highest sending country – in fact, the number of British students in the UAE has almost doubled in two years. This increase is most noticeable among those studying in an overseas branch campus of a UK institution. In 2012-13, the proportion of students studying in a branch campus was 44 percent of all British transnational education delivered in the UAE, up from 32 percent in 2010-11.

UK provision in the free zones is dominated, in student numbers, by the two large branch campuses of Heriot-Watt University and Middlesex University – in total 78 percent of students.

Students in all the UAE transnational education sites under review believed the UK degree had international value that made it an attractive option. Even in the biggest of the campuses, Heriot-Watt, students believed themselves to be part of the global university, not just of the local campus.

University World News
June 11, 2014  

Posted in Archive, Middle East, Regional News Summaries