40 Countries Represented at the QS Middle East and Africa Professional Leaders in Education Conference

MApleBy John O’Leary

More than 300 academics and administrators from 40 countries attended the biggest-ever Middle East and Africa Professional Leaders in Education (QS-MAPLE) conference in Abu Dhabi this month. The proceedings were streamed live to 30 countries.

Over 100 of the delegates stayed on for a separate consultation the following day on plans for a new QS ranking of universities in the Arab World. Debate centred on whether the ranking should cover only Arab countries or the whole of the Middle East. But there were a number of proposals on the measures to be used in the exercise and for sources of data to ensure the widest possible coverage of research in Arabic.

The session, which took place at Khalifa University of Science and Technology, followed two days of discussion and networking in the main conference. The university, founded in 2007 with a strong research brief, was one of the two main sponsors of QS-MAPLE, with the Abu Dhabi Education Council.

Among the plenary speakers was Professor Sultan Orabi, Secretary General of the Association of Arab Universities, who appealed for stronger investment in the region’s higher education systems and more autonomy for its universities. He said that talented academics were often denied promotion in favour of longer-serving colleagues and paid too little to prevent them joining the brain drain.

Almost a third of qualified graduates were leaving for Western countries, he said, half of them trained doctors. Instability in the region since the ‘Arab Spring’ had accelerated the process. Universities could only reach their full potential with political stability and better salaries and incentives.

The conference saw the award of two scholarships to two students from Khalifa University. Derek Bastienne, who is studying aerospace engineering, and Abdul Rahman, an undergraduate in mechanical engineering, received $6,000 from the QS Education Trust. The trust uses the surplus from delegates’ fees at QS conferences for scholarships and other philanthropic activities.

There was also a new series of QS Asia Creative Awards for university website and marketing materials, won by Dar Al-Hekma University, in Saudi Arabia; Nanyang Technological University, in Singapore, and the University of Newcastle, Australia. At the same session, the University of Malaya was awarded 5 QS Stars, University of Malaysia Perlis 3 Stars; and the University of Babylon, in Iraq, 2 Stars.

Next year’s conference will be in May 2015 in Doha, with Qatar University as the host institution. Universities in Sub-Saharan Africa will have their own conference in Rwanda later in the year.

HE News Brief 13.07.10

by Abby Chau

A gay-friendly university ratings and Abu Dhabi’s ambitious goals for 2018 – here are this week’s news stories:

  • At the Saudi Arabia and Japan: A Dialogue for the Future Seminar held recently in Tokyo, the two nations heralded the need for further educational collaboration. According to the Saudi Ambassador to Japan Abdul Aziz Tukistani, Japan is the second largest trading partner of Saudi. Full Story: Arab News   
     
  • As a new fiscal year begins in the states,  public colleges are experiencing a tough time as federal stimulus money dries up. Hawaii slashed their educational budget by 26%, and Florida has laid off 21 tenured and 34 tenure-track professors after $82 million was cut from their budget.
    Full Story: USA Today

  • Executive Director of Strategic Affairs Rafic Makki delivered Abu Dhabi’s Higher Education Strategic Plan recently. Under the Economic Vision 2030, the country plans to move away from oil based revenue and develop a research and knowledge-based workforce. The government plans to invest 1 billion dollars to accomplish this Vision with the goal of having two Abu Dhabi universities ranking on a global Top 100 by 2018.
    Full Story: University World News Read more

HE News Brief 8.6.10

by Abby Chau

 

From a French higher education revolution to a growing American uneasiness about their ranking, here are this week’s news stories:

  • The second Euro-Mediterranean Ministerial Conference on Higher Education was supposed to take place in April but due to the Icelandic ash cloud, it was postponed.  Stakeholders of this conference, from Southern Mediterranean and Middle Eastern States, seek to establish dialogues and agreements based on the 2007 Cairo Declaration which, akin to the Bologna Process, aims to harmonise higher education and promote knowledge sharing within member states. This editorial argues against the wholesale acceptance of Bologna and cautions against the so-called neoliberalism of internationalisation and privatisation.
    Full Story: Times of Malta
       
  • According to the Chronicle, France is allowing its 83 universities to become autonomous, cutting off traditional ties to the government.  In a major overhaul, Sarkozy also plans on investing billions of euros  into creating 10 regional “supercampuses” with the view to compete with American Ivy Leagues. The Chronicle posits that the poor performance of French universities in international league tables  has had a hand in ushering in this new system.
    Full Story: The Chronicle of Higher Education
          Read more

HE News Brief 1.6.10

by Abby Chau

 

From the Iraq higher education system to a boost in the kiwi economy, here are this week’s news stories:

  • During the India-UAE: Leveraging the Knowledge Economy Paradigm forum in Abu Dhabi, both countries pledged more robust cooperation in education. Citing the economic climate and the possibility of a human resource crisis, both India and the UAE said distance learning programmes may be a good way forward.
    Full Story: Gulf News   
  • One of the many legacies the U.S will leave behind in Iraq appears to take the form of an uber expensive liberal arts university. The American University of Iraq, according to this article, has only attracted 375 students as high tuition costs and the impracticality of a liberal arts education are cited as barriers to attract enrolment.(See our 16.3.2010 post for more information regarding the Iraq Higher Education System)
    Full Story: Guardian
    More: Asharq Alawsat
              Read more