WENR, December 2015: Middle East


U.S-Middle East student mobility not reciprocal

Arab students constituted nearly 10% of total enrollments of international students at U.S. colleges and universities during the 2014-2015 academic year and contributed just under $3 billion to the economy, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce.

While many Arab students study outside their home region, only a modest number of U.S. students study abroad every year—304,467 worldwide during the 2013-2014 academic year, according to IIE. Of these, just 3,461, or about one percent, studied in the 19 Arab countries [1] included in the Open Doors report.

Edith Cecil, vice president for professional exchange and community outreach at the Institute for International Education, said that “universities in Arab countries, in cooperation with government ministries and academic associations, can better promote study in their countries that goes beyond the study of the Arabic language. There are many excellent universities in the Arab world that can offer U.S. students opportunities to not only expand their cultural horizons and language skills, but also to be exposed to professors, student colleagues and peers who are focused on similar academic pursuits.”

Other international reports have indicated that few Arab countries are attracting overseas students to their universities. A 2014 UNESCO report [2] revealed that the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Saudi Arabia are ranked 17th, 19th, and 20th among the top 20 popular countries for international students, and together hosted four percent of the global share of mobile students at the tertiary level.

Al-Fanar Media [3]
November 27, 2015

Scholarship initiatives in the Gulf Region

Scholarships are key in encouraging student mobility out of the Gulf region, as governments in Gulf countries put initiatives into place to support students to study abroad. This was discussed at the Gulf Conferences [4] scholarship program meeting this week in London, as stakeholders are projecting huge growth in the region’s education sector.

One of the region’s most prominent government scholarship schemes is Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah scholarship program. Established in 2005, the program has recently seen the government signing agreements with corporations such as Saudi Arabian airlines and the Saudi Arabian monetary agency, to connect students’ study abroad experience with the working world.

The latest Open Doors report [5] also found that in the 2014/15 academic year, Saudi Arabian students in the US increased by 11% to almost 60,000 students, who are largely funded by the Saudi government scholarship program. However, while countries in the Gulf region are increasing outbound numbers, stakeholders hope that it will also become a study destination for students outside of the region.

The Pie News [6]
November 19,2015


Report on science in the Muslim world

The overall state of science at universities in the Muslim world is poor, despite recent improvements and the strong participation of women among those studying science. Those are the main findings of a recent report, “Science at Universities of the Muslim World [7],” published by the Pakistan-based Muslim World Science Initiative.

The new report attributes the weak performance of science at universities to several issues, including low spending on research and development, the disappointing performance of pre-university students on math and science tests, and the narrow focus of science education, which does little to enable students to think critically, especially beyond their specialties.

To face the scientific and educational challenges, the report’s authors call for science curricula and teaching methods to be reformed. The report also advocates for a broader education of scientists and engineers to enable them to address complex challenges across disciplines. Additionally, it recommends more autonomy for universities and a zero tolerance policy on plagiarism and other forms of academic misconduct [8].

Al-Fanar Media [9]
November 9, 2015