WENR, November 2016: Middle East

Violence and Persecution Plague Universities in the Middle East

Academics and students are being subjected to increasing violence and persecution, particularly in the Middle East, according to the non-profit Scholars at Risk (SAR). [1] Between May 2015 and September 2016, there were 158 cases of violence directed at higher ed institutions in 35 countries (up from 333 incidents during the 4.5 years prior), and 19 violent attacks by militant groups. Two mass shooting events at Pakistan’s Bacha Khan University and the American University of Afghanistan left scores dead. There are also several accounts of individual attacks on targeted academics, including the execution of a Syrian scholar by ISIS militants.  Oppression of academics is a growing concern in Egypt and most notable Turkey, where it is becoming increasingly systematic. In light of this troubling report, SAR’s executive director Robert Quinn has called for global higher education intervention.

Times Higher Ed [2]
October 31, 2016

Iran: Universities Struggle to Fill 600,000 Empty Seats

Iran’s higher ed sector suffers from a paucity of students. While the country has an extensive network of higher ed institutions, due to a post-revolution initiative to make education accessible to all, application rates are low this year, with around 600,000 empty seats at Iranian universities. Some university officials point to a decreased interest in higher ed among Iranian men — females comprise the majority of university students.

Trend News Agency [3]
October 29, 2016

Abu Dhabi: Mergers Seek to Increase Global Standing of Top Universities

In a bid to improve research capabilities and the reputation of its higher ed sector, Abu Dhabi has announced a planned merger of three of the country’s top universities. By joining forces, leaders from Khalifa University, Masdar Institute, and the Petroleum Institute hope to create a world-class institution that can compete globally.  This institutional restructuring is just part of several reforms underway aimed at improving all levels of education, with a strong focus on STEM and language skills.

The National [4]
October 18, 2016

Egypt: Higher Ed Sector Reeling As Saudi Arabia and Qatar Curb Outbound Enrollments in Egyptian Institutions

Egypt has been forced to assess the quality of higher education after Saudi Arabia and Qatar effectively cut off the flow of master’s and PhD students to the country. Saudi Arabia has sought to curtail post-graduate students entry into Egyptian programs amid allegations of diploma fraud. Qatar has removed all Egyptian universities from its list of recognized institutions. Many of those in Egyptian higher ed expressed shock at the decision, countering accusations of fraud and pointing to potential political motivations; other players in the government lament the decline of the higher ed sector and acknowledging rampant plagiarism. Egypt’s higher education system will suffer a financial blow, as these countries provide a significant funding source, and many in the government fear other countries will follow suit.  How Egypt plans to handle this major setback remains to be seen.

Al-Fanar Media [5]
October 11, 2016

UAE: Highest Number of International Schools in the World

The UAE currently has the most international English-medium international schools in the world, at 589. Transnational education thrives in the UAE, where expats make up the majority of the population. Dubai had the lion’s share of international schools in the federation, with 276. At the regional level, the Middle East leads with the most English-medium international schools worldwide, with 1,504. These numbers are expected to grow.


Gulf News [6]
September 21, 2016