WENR, January/February 2015: Middle East
Private Universities in the Middle East Grow in Popularity
A single year at a private university in Lebanon can cost up to US$14,000. In Saudi Arabia, that figure can climb to $25,000. In Qatar, it can be more than $40,000. But cost isn’t stopping a rising number of students from heading to private universities across the region, where they can find flexible admission criteria, smaller classes, and fields of study not available to them in public education, reports Al-Fanr Media.
As public universities sometimes fail to offer disciplinary diversity and buckle under the weight of an expanding student population, private education is playing a critical—but sometimes flawed—role in offering expanded educational opportunities. A variety of private universities dot the region, ranging from non-profit institutions offering western-style education to “fly-by-night” for-profit ones and universities with religious ties. While most students still flow into the public system, the number of private universities in many nations across the Arab world exceeds the number of public ones.
Among the holdouts are the Maghreb nations. In Tunisia private education is limited. Algeria has no private universities at all, due to a legal restriction, and Morocco still only has five private universities compared to 13 public institutions with high student enrollments.
The rapid growth in other countries has sometimes led to a regulatory backlash. Questionable quality at some of Yemen’s 55 private learning institutions prompted the government’s Academic Accreditation and Quality Control Council to begin reviewing them in 2012 in an effort to develop quality standards. The number of students flooding the public sector is a big issue in Egypt, where demand for higher education is significant. The country’s state institutions are crammed, with quite a few enrolling more than 100,000 students. Private universities in Egypt offer smaller classes and typically allow lower-scoring students to enroll. In Kuwait there are nine private universities for the country’s one public university. The private universities are educating about half of the university student population, according to Kuwait’s Ministry of Education.
– Al-Fanr Media
January 22, 2025
Colleges to Offer Doctoral Programs
In a unanimous vote, Israel’s Council for Higher Education approved in January for colleges, not just universities, to begin awarding doctoral degrees, therefore creating the first private universities in the country. The PhD programs that will be offered in private colleges will require approval from both the council and an international committee.
The Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya originally requested to offer a doctoral program five years ago, but its request was not considered. A number of colleges then attempted to further a reform that would permit colleges to offer PhD programs, but the budgeting subcommittee of the Council for Higher Education opposed it, pushing instead for joint programs between colleges and universities.
January 3, 2015
King Abdullah Dies, Leaving Behind International Academic Mobility Legacy
King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia died in January at the age of 90. In its obituary to Abdullah, The New York Times highlighted a key aspect of his influence on global higher education—a scholarship program that sent tens of thousands of Saudi students overseas, in particular to the United States:
Abdullah’s greatest legacy, however, may prove to be a scholarship program that sent tens of thousands of young Saudi men and women abroad to study at Western universities and colleges. It has been suggested that the changes long resisted by conservative forces—resistance that even a king could not overcome—would one day come about as those young men and women rose in the government, industry and academia.
Saudi Arabia is today the fourth-leading place of origin for students coming to the United States, according to the most recent data from the Institute of International Education’s “Open Doors” report. Saudi students numbered nearly 54,000 in the United States during the 2013-14 academic year.
– The New York Times
January 23, 2015