WENR, February 2016: Middle East

Regional: THE ranks Arab universities

The Times Higher Education’s unveiled its preliminary ranking of the top 15 universities in the Arab world in late January. None of the 15 made it into the THE’s list of top 300 institutions globally. The publication notes that the current list is “an initial release before consultation with the sector to determine how best to evaluate the region.”

Times Higher Education [1]
January 28, 2016

Saudi Arabia: Crash in oil prices may affect mobility among outbound international students

Saudi Arabia has long been seen as a reliable source of qualified and well-funded international students. However, in the face of collapsing oil prices, that reliability is now in question. The recent cancellation of the Middle East’s largest student recruitment event, which is run by Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Education, has stoked concerns. Observers also question the future of the government-funded King Abdullah scholarship program, which has, since its launch in 2005, funded hundreds of thousands of Saudi Arabian degree seekers enrolled at U.S. and Canadian institutions.

The PIE News [2]
January 22, 2016

Iran: End of nuclear sanctions could spark student mobility

International sanctions on Iran were lifted on Jan. 16 after the country met nuclear obligations imposed last summer. The move has freed up tens of billions of dollars that had been frozen in international banks. It may also have an impact on Iranian student mobility, especially among those seeking master’s and doctoral degrees. Some observers say that U.S. institutions of higher education may emerge as a significant destination. One recent British Council study predicted that in 2024, nearly 12,000 Iranian post-grads will study in U.S. institutions.

Times Higher Education [3]
January 22, 2016

Egypt: U.K. partnerships are part of broader higher-ed reforms

Universities in the U.K. and Egypt signed 10 partnership agreements in January. The partnerships seek to improve Egyptian scientific research capacities and to facilitate student and staff exchange between the two regions. The move is part of a larger effort to reform higher education in Egypt by implementing best practices developed in the U.K. Other initiatives focus on the development of a centralized regulatory and funding agency; the creation of a national center for assessment and evaluation; and the development of a training center for leadership at Egyptian universities.

Times Higher Education [4]
January 21, 2016

Egypt: Top universities expand their global footprint

Globally recognized for its top-tier Arabic literature and Sunni Islamic learning programs, Al-Azhar University plans to open its first branch campus outside of Egypt in September. The campus, which will be located in the United Arab Emirates, will offer bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in Islamic studies. Al-Azhar is reportedly planning further expansion in multiple countries, including the United States, Bangladesh, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Madagascar, Sudan, and Tanzania. Alexandria University, Egypt’s second largest institution, is reported to be planning branch campuses in Malaysia and Lebanon.

University World News [5]
December 11, 2015

Iran: A glut of university graduates with no place to go

Already one of the fastest-growing outbound markets for postgraduate studies, Iran has a new incentive to export graduate students. Iranian university enrollments have skyrocketed in the last decade. In 2013, the gross enrollment ratio for tertiary education was almost almost triple the 2003 rate. Postgraduate capacity, however, is almost nonexistent. In 2011, only six percent of some 900,000 applicants to Iranian master’s degree programs were accepted; only four percent of doctoral candidates found placements. Eager to mitigate the potential for political unrest posed by the anticipated flood of 1.5 million university grads onto the job market, the Iranian government may view internationalization as an attractive option.

ICEF Monitor [6]
December 1, 2015