WENR, September 2015: Middle East


IIE Launches Initiative to Increase Collaboration between U.S. and Iran

The Institute of International Education has launched a new initiative to reinvigorate collaborations between universities in the U.S. and Iran. The organization said its U.S. university delegation to Iran [1] in June found that enthusiasm for educational and scientific cooperation from both sides is accelerating, particularly in areas of water management, food security, stem cell research, nanotechnology and health and environment sciences.

It added that the most likely modes of cooperation will be PhD sandwich programs and short-term research opportunities for Iranian PhD candidates, joint PhD advising, dual degrees and short-term courses for U.S. students.

The IIE’s Open Doors 2014 Report [2]on international education exchange found that there were 10,194 students from Iran at U.S. higher education institutions during the 2013-14 academic year – the highest number in 26 years. The organization said Iran was the top sender of students to the U.S. from 1974 to 1982, with the number of students from Iran peaking at 51,310 in the 1979-80 academic year, but this number declined dramatically throughout the 1980s and 1990s, reaching a low of fewer than 1,700 students in 1998-99.

It added that while U.S.-Iran academic engagement has been sporadic throughout the past several decades, the last few years have seen a rise in collaborative activities including visiting researchers, joint conferences and exploratory delegations.

In a briefing paper [3] on the initiative, IIE president Allan Goodman said the initiative will enable the U.S. to “establish bonds with a country that has been all but out of reach to Americans for three decades,” adding that academic cooperation is likely to lead to “better political relations immediately.”

 – Times Higher Education [4]
August 5, 2015


Dubai University Administrators Charged with Falsifying TOEFL Scores

Two university administrators have appeared in a United Arab Emirates court accused of accepting bribes to change English language test scores. The pair, a Russian and a Lebanese, are alleged to have accepted kickbacks totaling Dh184,500 (roughly $50,000) from students at the American University in Dubai, The National reported [5].

In return, Dubai Criminal Court heard, they changed the students’ results from fail to pass on two sets of English language exams. These were the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), run by  Educational Testing Service, and the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), owned by a consortium which includes the British Council.

The pair worked in the university’s admissions office and were responsible for processing the English exam documents, which are a prerequisite for university entry. They have pleaded not guilty.

Approximately 20 students are alleged to have paid bribes to have their test results tampered with between December 2011 and January 2014. Some of the students have since been expelled, the court heard.

Times Higher Education [6]
August 10, 2015


Qatari Women Transform Workforce

Qatari women have long outnumbered men in the country’s higher education system. Now they are transforming its workforce. About 25,000 Qatari women were employed outside the home in 2011, according to the Qatar Statistics Authority. By the end of 2014, that number had increased to almost 32,000, the authority said.

Around 25 percent of Qatari women work in construction, 27 percent in information and technology and 45 percent in the sciences and related fields, according to the authority. Women comprised around 1.9 percent of workers in those fields in 2001 and around 8 percent in 2010.

These levels are still well below the rates of female employment in other developed countries, and Qatar’s National Development Strategy 2011-2016 highlights that women are more reluctant than men to work in the private-sector, mainly due to cultural and working-environment factors, citing “attitudinal barriers.”

But the government nonetheless forecasts female workplace participation to increase by 42 percent next year, especially in top private business and government positions. Higher education is playing a key role in that shift.

Fifty-six percent of students in Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar’s Information Systems program are women. And women comprise 57 percent of Carnegie Mellon’s overall student body in Qatar. At Texas A&M University at Qatar, women make up 40 percent of enrollment. The institution specializes in undergraduate degree programs in chemical engineering, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering and petroleum engineering.

The 15-year-old Qatari Businesswomen Association [7] recently signed a memorandum of understanding with Texas A&M University at Qatar to support female students and to educate girls and their families about engineering.

“The QBWA is employing all their efforts and capabilities to enhance the role of women and to enable them to participate and compete in various fields,” said association Vice Chairwoman Aisha Alfardan.

Many young women in Qatar still fail to pursue their academic dreams because of social pressure to avoid traditionally male-dominated fields. But women are breaking through these barriers in part because of the association and other initiatives.

Al-Fanar Media [8]
August 10, 2015

United Arab Emirates

The UAE Global Leader in Number of International Schools

The UAE continues to have the highest number of English-medium international schools in the world. This was found by the latest data on the growth of the international schools market published by ISC Research, part of The International Schools Consultancy (ISC). The report also found that the Middle East and Africa region has the second-highest number of English-medium international schools geographically with a total of 1,616.

Going by country, the UAE leads the world with 511 international schools, an increase from 2014 (according to the previous 2014 ISC report) when it dominated with 439 international schools. Other Arab countries made the top 15 list like Saudi Arabia (245 schools), Egypt (183) and Qatar (152) landing in fifth, ninth and fourteenth place, respectively.

“The education landscape in the Middle East and Africa is changing very rapidly. Only last February, there were 505 schools in the UAE, and that number has increased by six.

“This kind of commitment to developing the education sector is prevalent in the region, where economic progress in recent years has put the spotlight on education as a key factor for future progress,” said Rhona Greenhill, Co-Founder, International and Private Schools Education Forum (IPSEF), which will take place in Dubai from September 29th to October 1st at the Dubai Knowledge Village Auditorium.

The forum gathers leading education experts from around the world to share key insights on the international and private school education sector in the region. English-medium international schools now provide education to over 4 million students around the world. This number has risen dramatically in recent years

Gulf News [9]
August 16, 2015