Saudi Arabia: Government Looks to Revamp Scholarship Program
The Saudi Ministry of Education is in the process of overhauling its international “Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques” scholarship program. To make the initiative more successful, administrators plan to: focus on needs of the Saudi job market, develop a stronger support system for Saudis abroad, lower costs and other barriers to acceptance, and update the list of recommended international universities. The final program outline will be delivered by the end of the year.
Qatar: Campus Leaders Confident Despite Blockade
A number of countries including Egypt, United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia cut diplomatic ties with Qatar earlier this summer but leaders of branch campuses in the country say the blockade is not affecting universities as they begin the new school year. Leaders for branch campuses, including Northwestern University and Georgetown University, say they do not expect the blockade to negatively impact their campuses or enrollment though some experts warn the effects of the blockade might not be felt until 2018. Almost 300 students and more than 200 staff are affected by the travel ban issued by the blockading countries, though the Qatar Foundation’s executive director said those affected individuals can stay in Qatar to continue their education or work at the universities if they have not already left.
Times Higher Ed
Egypt: New Way to Measure Student Achievement in High School
Final exams taken in the last year of high school will no longer be the only measurement of academic success in Egypt. While most countries in the region rely on final exams to gauge student achievement, Egypt’s minister of education announced the country will now consider student’s overall academic performance in conjunction with final exams to measure success. Final exam results impact whether a student continues to university and where they attend. The change gives universities more leeway to accept students based on criteria other than final exam results, such as overall academic achievement, and could limit the pressure on students to focus on passing exams.
Tunisia: Goal to Increase Number of African Students in Higher Education to 20,000
In an effort to bolster Tunisia’s higher education sector, the country will seek to increase the number of students in higher education and vocational training from Africa to 20,000 by 2020 – more than doubling the number of African students in the next three years. There are 300,000 international students studying in Tunisia and about 8,000 of these students are from other African countries. Tunisia’s prime minister added that the government will provide support to African students seeking to continue their education in the country.
Middle East Monitor
Kuwait: Government to Tackle Academic Cheating
Students caught cheating on recent exams will receive a failing grade in all subjects and will not be allowed to continue their examinations. The decision by Dr. Muhammad Al- Fares, the country’s minister of education, was met with criticism by some who say the punishment for cheating is too harsh and could lead influential families and students to pressure exam proctors. But the decision was also praised by others who see it as a way to combat cheating in higher education. The minister also spoke out about students who pay for others to write their academic papers. Dr. Al-Fares argued that the practice of buying papers negatively impacts higher education and the labor market because students are not academically prepared.