Arab University Rankings 2021: results announced

Arab University Rankings 2021: results announced

Universities in the MENA region were assessed and ranked by THE World University Ranking under the title of Arab University Rankings 2021: results announced.  So here are those results.

The picture above is for illustration and is of THE of 12 February 2021.

Arab University Rankings 2021: results announced

Saudi Arabia dominates top of new regional table, while Egypt is most-represented nation overall

July 27, 2021
Arab University Rankings 2021: results announced

Jeddah Saudi Arabia – Source: iStock

Browse the full results of the Arab University Rankings 2021


Universities in Saudi Arabia lead a new Times Higher Education ranking focused on the Arab region.

King Abdulaziz University tops the inaugural THE Arab University Rankings, while four other institutions in the county also feature in the top 10: King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) (third), Prince Mohammad Bin Fahd University (fourth), King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals (fifth) and King Saud University (eighth).

Overall, 22 Saudi Arabian universities are ranked in the list. On average, the country performs particularly well on metrics relating to the share of international staff, international co-authorship and institutional income.

The United Arab Emirates is the only other nation with more than one institution in the top 10; Khalifa University and United Arab Emirates University are sixth and seventh respectively, with both institutions receiving high scores for metrics relating to the research environment.

Qatar has only one representative in the table – the flagship Qatar University – but it claims second place thanks to strong scores across the board.

Meanwhile, Egypt is the most-represented nation, with 31 institutions, led by Zewail City of Science and Technology in 10th place. Five other Egyptian universities feature in the top 20. The country receives a strong average score for citation impact and teaching reputation, the latter of which is based on the first THE survey exclusively dedicated to published academics in the Arab region. Egypt is also home to the most leading large universities in the region; there are 20 ranked institutions with more than 50,000 students and all of the top 10 are in the North African country.

Lebanon is the only other country to feature in the top 10, with the American University of Beirut claiming ninth place.


Arab University Rankings 2021: top 10

Rank 2021 Position in World University Rankings 2021 Institution Country
1 201–250 King Abdulaziz University Saudi Arabia
2 301–350 Qatar University Qatar
3 NR King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) Saudi Arabia
4 NR Prince Mohammad Bin Fahd University Saudi Arabia
5 501–600 King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals Saudi Arabia
6 351–400 Khalifa University United Arab Emirates
7 301–350 United Arab Emirates University United Arab Emirates
8 401–500 King Saud University Saudi Arabia
9 301–350 American University of Beirut Lebanon
10 NR Zewail City of Science and Technology Egypt

NR = not ranked 


Overall, 125 institutions from 14 countries are ranked in the inaugural Arab University Rankings, with the vast majority (100) being public institutions. A further 30 institutions are listed with “reporter” status, meaning that they provided data but did not meet our eligibility criteria to receive a rank. The top-ranked private university is Saudi Arabia’s Prince Mohammad Bin Fahd University in fourth place.

The ranking is THE’s most comprehensive assessment of higher education in the Arab region to date. Fifty-five of the ranked institutions, including Bahrain and Palestine’s two representatives each, did not feature in the latest World University Rankings due to its stricter eligibility criteria. Iraq is the third most-represented nation in the Arab ranking, with 16 ranked institutions (and a further 15 with reporter status), but only two of these were included in the global table.

The methodology behind the Arab ranking is based on the same framework as the global table, but some adjustments have been made and some new metrics have been included to reflect the features and missions of universities in the Arab region. There are regional measures on reputation and collaboration as well as metrics related to social impact.

Nasser Al-Aqeeli, Saudi Arabia’s deputy minister for research and innovation, said that the country’s strong performance in the ranking was partly driven by recent policies to strengthen research and innovation in universities.

The Ministry of Education has worked with a number of public and private sectors to establish 12 national research and innovation priority areas “to help universities focus their research on what is needed in Saudi Arabia”, Professor Al-Aqeeli said. It has also worked directly with institutions on their own research strategies based on their strengths and what is needed in their local cities and regions.

Meanwhile, last year the ministry initiated a new national funding system for universities. The “institutional fund program” gives a pot of research funding to each university and the university administration manages how this is distributed to its academics, instead of scholars submitting grant proposals to the ministry, to help speed up the process. As a result, Saudi Arabia was ranked first in the Arab world and 14th globally for the number of coronavirus-related research publications, Professor Al-Aqeeli said.

Habib Fardoun, director of the Observatory Center for Academic Standards and Excellence at King Abdulaziz University, said that the institution’s research projects are all done in collaboration with international, regional and national partners to acheive the strongest results, while over the last 10 years the university has worked on improving the quality of its education.

On the Arab ranking more broadly, Dr Fardoun said the methodology is “aligned with the Arab countries’ strategies”, which will enable governments to measure the outputs of their universities and to give institutions more support in shaping and fulfilling these strategies.

Phil Baty, chief knowledge officer at THE, said that universities in the Arab world have achieved “very strong progress” in recent years in the World University Rankings but “the increased presence of Arabic institutions in the global ranking does not do full justice to the rich diversity of the sector, and does not fully reflect the range of activities and missions at the regional level, or the priorities of more regionally focused institutions”.

“So it is very exciting that this new, bespoke ranking for the Arab region allows us to offer a more nuanced, regional context, allowing many more institutions in the region to benchmark themselves against a range of relevant performance indicators and deploy THE’s trusted data to support their missions and their development,” he said.


Countries represented in the Arab University Rankings 2021

ellie.bothwell@timeshighereducation.com 

Largest student numbers enrolled in higher education in MENA

Largest student numbers enrolled in higher education in MENA

Daily News Egypt reports that Egypt has one of the largest student numbers enrolled in higher education in MENA as per a UfM report.

The study aims to be effective tool for education stakeholders, set out to investigate the internationalisation of higher education.

Egypt has one of largest student numbers enrolled in higher education in MENA: UfM

By Nehal Samir

Egypt has one of largest student numbers enrolled in higher education in MENA: UfM

Egypt has one of the largest numbers of students enrolled in higher education in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, with a total of around 2.4 million students, according to a new Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) report. 

The UFM launched a regional dialogue process on the internationalisation of higher education in the Mediterranean region. It noted that internationalisation is not understood as a goal by itself, but a process aimed at enhancing the quality and standards of education and research. 

This dialogue intends to facilitate continuous peer learning among the UfM countries on policies and practices addressing common challenges and priorities, and to foster joint projects and initiatives.

In intent to address regional needs and pave the way for a change of scale in the support mechanisms, the UfM launched a study, conducted by the Mediterranean Universities Union (UNIMED).

The study aims at being an effective tool for policymakers and other stakeholders, and set out to investigate the internationalisation of higher education in 10 countries, namely: Algeria; Egypt; Palestine; Israel; Jordan; Lebanon; Libya; Mauritania; Morocco; and Tunisia.

The study focused especially on resources and opportunities available at the national and regional levels.

The report found that in most cases, internationalisation is identified simply as mobility, while a more comprehensive internationalisation strategy would be highly beneficial for institutions and staff, and may increase attractiveness and participation.

The report also showed that in a year’s average before the pandemic, over 220,000 students moved around the world came from MENA countries, which in turn hosted over 134,000 international students.

“Algeria, Mauritania, Morocco, and Tunisia have a net outflow of student mobility, while Egypt, Lebanon, and Jordan have a net inflow, particularly from the rest of Asia and some African countries,” according to the UFM.

The report also revealed that South and East Mediterranean Countries have been increasingly sending and receiving students to and from the MENA region, alongside Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, India, and China. 

Malaysia is one of the most active actors in the Mediterranean area, constantly boosting its cooperation with Arab countries and higher education institutions.

The report showed that academic mobility is overwhelmingly from South to North in the region. The low attractiveness of local higher education systems, including quality and diversity of research, prevents Southern Mediterranean countries from achieving reciprocal mobility.

“The EU’s Erasmus+ programme is generating the largest impact on the internationalisation strategies of higher education institutions,” the report noted, “Meanwhile, in the South-Eastern Mediterranean region, there is a focus on national activities and bilateral cooperation, rather than on a regional approach.” 

It added that universities in the MENA region perceive themselves as more teaching-oriented than research-oriented, as the research sector suffers from low budget allocation. All countries in the study spend less than 1% of GDP on Research and Developments (R&D). 

The report revealed that obstacles to effective internationalisation include: high fragmentation in the procedures and systems of credit recognition and assessment of qualifications; and difficulties obtaining visas for international mobility. The latter point affects particularly MENA countries to access Europe.

A series of recommendations emerge from the study, both at national and regional level. They were formulated taking in consideration the most relevant existing best practices and initiatives that can be replicated and up-scaled in the region. 

They point out proposals regarding information-sharing mechanisms, the improvement of present regional initiatives and programmes, and synergies and complementarities between existing mobility schemes and programmes. This is in addition to appropriate capacity-development mechanisms for Higher Education Institutions.

The report was presented during an online event recently, which introduced the results of the study and launched the preparation of a renewed policy agenda for the region. 

Nasser Kamel, Secretary-General of the UfM, stated in the report that, only by investing in the region’s future and youth, will the region be able, as internationalisation practitioners, to guarantee a framework of sustainability and prosperity in the Mediterranean.

Professor: ‘certification’ mania hobbles Middle East development

Professor: ‘certification’ mania hobbles Middle East development

Leading scholar says region must place more importance on liberal arts, not just science and engineering, to build better societies by Anna McKie could be an unprecedented way of covering the recurring issue of underdevelopment not through traditional knowledge but by using the art and humanities knowledge. Let us see what is proposed as per the very words of a Professor: ‘certification’ mania hobbles Middle East development.

The picture above is for illustration and is of another article on how a MENA summit weighs liberal arts’ role in post-Covid recovery by the Times Higher Education.

Professor: ‘certification’ mania hobbles Middle East development

April 8, 2021

Students in the Middle East and North Africa are too often more interested in “acquiring” a degree than developing the understanding that should come with it, a leading scholar has warned.

Safwan Masri, Columbia University’s executive vice-president for global centres and global development, said too many young people were steered into courses focused on science and engineering when critical thinking and intercultural understanding were desperately needed across the region.

Professor: ‘certification’ mania hobbles Middle East development

Degree Certificates
Source: iStock

Speaking at Times Higher Education’s MENA Universities Summit, Professor Masri said future leaders being trained in institutions across the region were “not fully prepared to lead”, the product of “technocratic societies led by a global technocratic class”.

“Students – and the parents who bankroll them – are often more interested in acquiring professional certification than truly understanding the world and the role of an educated citizen within it,” said Professor Masri.

“Here in MENA, young people fortunate enough to attend university are almost unilaterally steered into STEM training.

“But STEM competency is only half of the equation. We need people who also know how to organise societies, articulate and secure alignment on political ideals, and build robust civil societies that expand rights and freedoms to historically marginalised groups.”

Professor Masri, an expert on the contemporary Arab world and the head of Columbia’s study centre in Amman, Jordan, said the solution had to be a greater embrace of liberal arts education across the region.

He acknowledged that this “won’t be easy” because generations of Arabs “have been indoctrinated with hyper-nationalist propaganda, exclusionary rhetoric and dogmatic religious discourse at the expense of critical thinking and questioning skills”.

“Progress cannot be achieved without deprogramming and reprogramming this mindset, to learn to coexist with different points of view and ways of life,” Professor Masri said.

“Unless liberal arts training is more highly valued in this region, the region’s ambitions will be thwarted. We must achieve balance. We must help students – and the parents who fund many of them – understand the crucial interplay between content [of academic training] and context [understanding of society].”

At the summit, held online in partnership with NYU Abu Dhabi, Professor Masri also argued that at a time of geopolitical turmoil and “historic levels of misunderstanding” between countries and the people within them, knowledge diplomacy led by universities “may be our last and best tool if we are to rebuild a broken world”. He highlighted Columbia’s decision to maintain its global centre in Istanbul even in the face of increasing persecution of academics.

“The solution wasn’t to give in, we contended, but to dig in – to support academics and students, to continue to share knowledge,” Professor Masri said.

But Professor Masri expressed concern about the “weaponisation” of knowledge, highlighting that while Gulf states’ attempts to exercise soft power by funding Middle East studies centres in Western universities ostensibly had “no strings attached”, there were “uncomfortable stories” of researchers at these centres coming under pressure after writing about issues such as human rights and democracy.

A better model of knowledge diplomacy, he argued, was that of the Covid vaccines, which were the result of thousands of researchers crossing the globe over decades, generating the knowledge that informed the vaccines’ designs.

“The Covid vaccine represents decades’ worth, perhaps even centuries’ worth, of university-generated knowledge – distilled down to little more than an ounce of liquid, all concentrated in a single shot,” Professor Masri said.

“This medical and scientific breakthrough will reconnect the people of the world.”

anna.mckie@timeshighereducation.com

Twitter: @annamckie

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Most international universities in the world

Most international universities in the world

Explore the most international universities in the world using data from the Times Higher Education World University Rankings

January 28 2021

Most international universities in the world

Prospective students looking to study in the most international environments in the world should apply to universities in Switzerland, Hong Kong, Singapore or the UK. 

Universities, by their nature, are global institutions. Typically, they are home to communities of students and scholars from all over the world, and they tackle some of the globe’s most pressing problems through research.

This table, compiled using the international student score, international staff score, international co-authorship score and international reputation metrics collected for the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2021, shows that the above four countries are home to the some of the most international universities in the world.

These institutions all have a high proportion of international students and staff, collaborate on research with scholars from across the world, and have a strong global reputation to match. Read the full methodology at the bottom of the page. 

Research suggests that diverse communities of students improve the teaching and learning experience, while opportunities for students to spend time abroad better prepare them to become global citizens.


International student experience

Life as an international student at EPFL, Switzerland
International perspective: an Indian student in the UK during the Covid-19 pandemic
Discovering my passion at the University of Hong Kong
International perspective: students from Hong Kong in the UK

International perspective: a Chinese student in New Zealand
International perspective: a French student in Switzerland
A day in the life of a student in Singapore


Top five most international universities in the world

1. University of Hong Kong

The University of Hong Kong has embarked on a mission to become “Asia’s global university”, which includes the goal of giving all its undergraduates two opportunities to study outside Hong Kong during their degree by 2022.

Overall, this Hong Kong university has more than 30,000 students, of which more than 35 per cent are international.

Teaching at the institution is in English and education has an international focus, with the aim of preparing students to become global citizens who could be successful anywhere in the world.

2. ETH Zurich

It is no surprise that Switzerland is home to some of the most international universities in the world, given its situation in the heart of Europe, surrounded by France, Italy, Germany, Austria and Liechtenstein. 

ETH Zurich is located in Switzerland’s largest city, Zurich, which is known for being very safe (although expensive). The main spoken language is Swiss German, but the university also offers courses in English.

The institution has more than 22,000 students from over 120 countries and is the top university in continental Europe. 

The university focuses on teaching and research in the STEM subjects, and 21 Nobel prizes have been awarded to students and teachers connected to the institution. One of the most famous alumni is Albert Einstein.

3. Chinese University of Hong Kong

Students from more than 50 countries study at the Chinese University of Hong Kong

The university has exchange partnerships with more than 282 institutions in 36 countries and regions. Some 6,000 students study abroad or take part in a learning abroad programme or internship.


Applying to university overseas 

How international students use social media to choose a UK university
Applying to university overseas: what to consider
Applying through Ucas as an international student
A guide for international students choosing a university in Australia
Hoping to apply to a US university as a foreign student?
How to choose a UK university
The cost of studying at a university in the UK
Nine tips for students studying abroad for the first time


4. University of Oxford

The University of Oxford is not only the top university in the world, it also happens to be one of the most international. 

Over a third of students at the University of Oxford are international students coming from 160 countries and territories. In fact, international students have been attending the University of Oxford for hundreds of years, with the first international student arriving way back in 1190.

 Almost half of the staff at the university are also international and the institution has links with many other institutions worldwide. 

Prospective international students can listen to the university’s International Students podcast, which talks you through academic and social aspects of being at Oxford. 

5. Imperial College London

Imperial College London focuses teaching and learning around science, engineering, medicine and business. 

More than 60 per cent of students are international, with undergraduates coming from over 125 countries. 

Clubs and support services with an international focus at Imperial College include International Medical Careers and the Indian National Student Association. 


Most international universities in the world 2021

Click each institution to view its World University Rankings 2021 profile

International Rank 2021International Rank 2020World University Rank 2021University Country/region
1239University of Hong KongHong Kong
2314ETH ZurichSwitzerland
3556Chinese University of Hong KongHong Kong
471University of OxfordUnited Kingdom
5611Imperial College LondonUnited Kingdom
6725National University of SingaporeSingapore
796University of CambridgeUnited Kingdom
817155Trinity College DublinRepublic of Ireland
91047Nanyang Technological University, SingaporeSingapore
101216UCLUnited Kingdom
1113164University of ViennaAustria
12NR78Delft University of TechnologyNetherlands
131135King’s College LondonUnited Kingdom
1413147University of AucklandNew Zealand
151659Australian National UniversityAustralia
151527London School of Economics and Political ScienceUnited Kingdom
171834University of British ColumbiaCanada
181930University of EdinburghUnited Kingdom
192073University of ZurichSwitzerland
202377University of WarwickUnited Kingdom
212267UNSW SydneyAustralia
222440McGill UniversityCanada
232551University of ManchesterUnited Kingdom
232131University of MelbourneAustralia
2530149Durham UniversityUnited Kingdom
26285Massachusetts Institute of TechnologyUnited States
272662The University of QueenslandAustralia
283666University of AmsterdamNetherlands
293084University of CopenhagenDenmark
303318University of TorontoCanada
312964Monash UniversityAustralia
322751University of SydneyAustralia
333287École PolytechniqueFrance
34NR80University of GroningenNetherlands
3537201–250Aalto UniversityFinland
363870Leiden UniversityNetherlands
37394California Institute of TechnologyUnited States
38NR69McMaster UniversityCanada
3939155University of Cape TownSouth Africa
40NR103Lund UniversitySweden
4143127University of OsloNorway
41422Stanford UniversityUnited States
43463Harvard UniversityUnited States
43419Princeton UniversityUnited States
4545106Aarhus UniversityDenmark
466275Utrecht UniversityNetherlands
474428Carnegie Mellon UniversityUnited States
474817Columbia UniversityUnited States
494745KU LeuvenBelgium
504938Georgia Institute of TechnologyUnited States
5153111Uppsala UniversitySweden
5255116Vrije Universiteit AmsterdamNetherlands
53NR183Stockholm UniversitySweden
5458301–350University of MalayaMalaysia
554946Paris Sciences et Lettres – PSL Research University ParisFrance
5651118Free University of BerlinGermany
57567University of California, BerkeleyUnited States
586012Johns Hopkins UniversityUnited States
595419Cornell UniversityUnited States
605210The University of ChicagoUnited States
616141Technical University of MunichGermany
625894Purdue University West LafayetteUnited States
6364124Rice UniversityUnited States
645780Humboldt University of BerlinGermany
64NR401–500Technion Israel Institute of TechnologyIsrael
66658Yale UniversityUnited States
676698University of California, IrvineUnited States
687226New York UniversityUnited States
696968University of California, Santa BarbaraUnited States
706787Sorbonne UniversityFrance
716342Heidelberg UniversityGermany
7168201–250Karlsruhe Institute of TechnologyGermany
737354Boston UniversityUnited States
747664University of California, DavisUnited States
757315University of California, Los AngelesUnited States
757032LMU MunichGermany
7771103Ghent UniversityBelgium
78NR78University of TübingenGermany
79NR401–500Charles University in PragueCzech Republic
79NR136University of ParisFrance
818013University of PennsylvaniaUnited States
827833University of California, San DiegoUnited States
838298University of HelsinkiFinland
848920Duke UniversityUnited States
857553University of Southern CaliforniaUnited States
8885201–250University of MassachusettsUnited States
8683114University of BonnGermany
8678105Michigan State UniversityUnited States
888861Brown UniversityUnited States
9087107RWTH Aachen UniversityGermany
91NR198University of BarcelonaSpain
928324Northwestern UniversityUnited States
9380201–250Hebrew University of JerusalemIsrael
9491184Arizona State University (Tempe)United States
95104174Lomonosov Moscow State UniversityRussian Federation
9595301–350North Carolina State UniversityUnited States
9790191Tel Aviv UniversityIsrael
999380Ohio State University (Main campus)United States
100112101Sungkyunkwan University (SKKU)South Korea
1019822University of Michigan-Ann ArborUnited States
1029785Emory UniversityUnited States
989429University of WashingtonUnited States
103100167University of BolognaItaly
1059648University of Illinois at Urbana-ChampaignUnited States
11198166Rutgers, the State University of New JerseyUnited States
103102197Texas A&M UniversityUnited States
10610750Washington University in St LouisUnited States
107103501–600Tomsk State UniversityRussian Federation
107101201–250Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State UniversityUnited States
109108801–1000National Autonomous University of MexicoMexico
109104170University of Notre DameUnited States
11310923Peking UniversityChina
112106140Indiana UniversityUnited States
11411094Zhejiang UniversityChina
115113131University of Colorado BoulderUnited States
115115187Yonsei University (Seoul campus)South Korea
117114201–250Sapienza University of RomeItaly
118NR401–500National Research Nuclear University MEPhIRussian Federation
11811749University of Wisconsin-MadisonUnited States
120110114Penn State (Main campus)United States
121119201–250Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (MIPT)Russian Federation
122NR401–500Tongji UniversityChina
123NR801–1000University of WarsawPoland
124NR351–400East China Normal UniversityChina
125123117University of Virginia (Main campus)United States
126122167Korea UniversitySouth Korea
12712190University of Maryland, College ParkUnited States
127128133University of Pittsburgh-Pittsburgh campusUnited States
129120501–600Complutense University of MadridSpain
130126401–500University of GeorgiaUnited States
131118111Nanjing UniversityChina
13212536The University of TokyoJapan
133124124University of ArizonaUnited States
13412920Tsinghua UniversityChina
135127100Shanghai Jiao Tong UniversityChina
13613185University of MinnesotaUnited States
137131152University of FloridaUnited States
13812944University of Texas at AustinUnited States
139140801–1000Waseda UniversityJapan
14014156University of North Carolina at Chapel HillUnited States
140149201–250Tohoku UniversityJapan
142136111Vanderbilt UniversityUnited States
14314554Kyoto UniversityJapan
14413870Fudan UniversityChina
14513997National Taiwan University (NTU)Taiwan
146142301–350Beijing Normal UniversityChina
146137301–350Tokyo Institute of TechnologyJapan
148135101Dartmouth CollegeUnited States
14914460Seoul National UniversitySouth Korea
150133401–500University of TsukubaJapan
151145501–600Hokkaido UniversityJapan
15114896Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST)South Korea
153150251–300HSE UniversityRussian Federation
154152351–400Osaka UniversityJapan
155150401–500Kyushu UniversityJapan
156153201–250University of São PauloBrazil
157157401–500Xi’an Jiaotong UniversityChina
158155601–800Saint Petersburg State UniversityRussian Federation
159157401–500Harbin Institute of TechnologyChina
159143601–800Novosibirsk State UniversityRussian Federation
161156351–400National Tsing Hua UniversityTaiwan
162163351–400Nagoya UniversityJapan
163159501–600National Chiao Tung UniversityTaiwan
164145301–350Wuhan UniversityChina
165160251–300Sun Yat-sen UniversityChina
166161501–600National Cheng Kung University (NCKU)Taiwan
167NR401–500Tianjin UniversityChina
168154151Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH)South Korea
169164401–500University of CampinasBrazil
170162601–800Keio UniversityJapan
17116587University of Science and Technology of ChinaChina
172170301–350Indian Institute of ScienceIndia

Methodology

The data in Times Higher Education’s ranking of The World’s Most International Universities 2021 are drawn largely from the “international outlook” pillar of the THE World University Rankings 2021. This takes into account a university’s proportions of international students, international staff and journal publications with at least one international co-author. Each of these elements is given equal weighting in calculating the score for this pillar.

The table adds a fourth component, which makes up 25 per cent of the total score: a university’s international reputation. This is a measure of the proportion of votes from outside the home country that the institution achieved in THE’s annual invitation-only Academic Reputation Survey, which asks leading scholars to name the world’s best universities for teaching and research in their field.

Only institutions that received at least 100 votes in the survey were eligible for inclusion. Universities must also receive at least 50 or at least 10 per cent of available domestic votes to be ranked.

Metrics and weightings:

• 25 per cent: proportion of international staff

• 25 per cent: proportion of international students

• 25 per cent: international co-authorship

• 25 per cent: international reputation


God Bleeds – Oil Graduates Aren’t Finding Jobs

God Bleeds – Oil Graduates Aren’t Finding Jobs

God Bleeds – Oil Graduates Aren’t Finding Jobs by Jennifer Sensiba could be considered some sort of warning to all MENA’s oil exporting countries‘ students as to which future awaits for them. So let us see how the story is developed.

God Bleeds – Oil Graduates Aren’t Finding Jobs


15 January 2021

“Did you ever hear of a solar panel?”

That’s the question Sabrina Burns, a petroleum engineering student got from an Uber driver in 2018. She and some fellow students were headed to a petroleum industry banquet, and at the time it seemed a little silly. While many younger people questioned the wisdom of going into the oil industry, conventional wisdom held that the oil industry is a great career.

While students in other majors and other people she knew questioned the wisdom of being an oil major, her parents persuaded her to stick with the oil industry. Her father, who worked as a helicopter pilot, met a lot of successful women working as engineers on offshore oil rigs. On top of that, older generations probably have a harder time imagining a world in which the oil industry isn’t stable, lucrative, and essential to everyone’s lives.

2020 threw these older generations and any younger believers a curveball, though. “We got a slap in the face, an entirely unforeseen situation that rocked our entire mind-set,” said Ms. Burns when asked about her prospects by Clifford Krauss at The New York Times. “I have applied for every oil and gas position I’ve seen, like all my classmates, and nothing really has turned up. I’m discouraged.”

What was once seemingly invincible was now stumbling and couldn’t be counted on.

The biggest blow to graduating oil students was the sudden drop in oil demand due to the pandemic. Oil products like gasoline and jet fuel weren’t needed nearly as much because people worked from home, many businesses were closed, and travel was avoided. With all of this lost demand despite ample supplies, prices tanked.

With such low demand and low prices, the industry took a big hit. Over 100,000 people were laid off. Workers weren’t needed in the field to pump oil that wasn’t needed, and refineries were closed. Some oil companies even declared bankruptcy.

This stands in stark contrast to the better years, when these students started their college careers. The oil industry and the faculties of colleges felt they could promise great careers, with lots of job security and a good income. Under Donald Trump, shale drilling and “fracking” took off, and the United States became the world’s largest producer of oil. There had been booms and busts in the industry in the past, but those seemed to affect less educated field workers, and not people with engineering or geology degrees.

With these prospects gone, and future climate change issues seeming likely to hurt the industry even after the pandemic is over, oil students are looking at other options going forward. Sabrina Burns told The New York Times that she’s looking to intern in a related but different field, and that she may need to go back to school for a graduate degree in Environmental Science to have a better career. She is even considering moving in with family to make ends meet while recharting a new course for her career.

In the same article, Krauss goes on to interview a number of other students in the industry. Their stories are all pretty similar. Some expect the industry to bounce back, and are biding their time. Others are looking to take on a graduate degree while waiting, but are hedging their bets by majoring in something else for their master’s degrees.

One student actually landed a job, but the company is looking at diversifying to avoid future exposure to what could be a failing industry in future years. He is glad to have found a job, but worries that his education and skills he’s building won’t transfer well to other parts of the energy economy.

Some Things We Can Learn Here

Readers of CleanTechnica are probably having an “I told you so” moment reading this. People following the energy industry could see that renewables, battery storage, and other technologies aren’t competing with oil just yet, but have a much brighter future than oil, which isn’t growing. Oil is still big, though, and has a lot of inertia, so it’s not going away now or even in the next four years under Biden and then likely Harris.

What many (even among us) didn’t foresee was how oil’s newfound weakness would leave it more vulnerable to crises, like the one we currently face with COVID-19. Oil is weakening and growth has less potential than ever, but at the same time it wasn’t shrinking. A sudden jolt in demand for gasoline, jet fuel, and diesel hit them hard, though.

Diversity=Resilience

Few people fully avoided the impacts of the tsunami of COVID, but electricity is a lot more diversified. In my home, we use electricity for heating, cooling, and most of our driving. We use it for lighting, entertainment, cooking, and security. The cats and dog even have toys powered by electricity. When we turn on the tap, electric pumps somewhere else in town provide the pressure. LED street lamps light the street in front of our home.

Sure, I drive a lot less now not taking the kids to school, but our overall power bill didn’t take a huge drop.

On the other hand, our use of gasoline took a HUGE hit. In the last nine months, we’ve spent far less than $200 on the stuff. The occasional trip to the next town makes our Nissan LEAF struggle for range, and we’ve driven there on gasoline power only twice. The prior year, we probably did this dozens of times. Trips to see family, where we need to pile the whole family into the family SUV, are also a lot more rare. A tank of gas used to last one to two months in those vehicles, but now last three to four, if not more.

We don’t use gasoline for anything else, so oil companies are taking a much bigger hit than companies involved in electricity generation, whether they’re renewable or fossil fuel-powered. Even when fossil fuels are used to generate, very few power stations run on oil. Natural gas is far more common, and comes from a related but different industry than oil.

Another important lesson we can find here is that it’s wise to question the prevailing narrative. Yes, oil has been very strong in the past, but that doesn’t mean it will necessarily be strong in the future. No industry is a sure bet, but this was an area where generational bias caused parents to mislead their children into a bad career move.

This is no trivial thing. Most of the students will go on to find another career, and some will eventually succeed in oil as the pandemic ends. However, they’ll still have tens of thousands of dollars of debt that they wouldn’t have had, and a harder time servicing that debt than they would have had if their parents had been more forward looking.

Oil is Not Invincible

On the other hand, there’s a silver lining. Seeing oil stumble shows us that it’s not invincible. As Ivan Vanko in Iron Man 2 says, “If you could make God bleed, people would cease to believe in Him. There will be blood in the water, the sharks will come. All I have to do is sit back and watch as the world consumes you.”

If you don’t remember the film, Iron Man (a character partially modeled after Elon Musk) is at the top of the world and the top of his game, giving global leaders security with his unique Iron Man suit. He seemed invincible until someone with his father’s arc reactor technology attacks him, only narrowly losing the fight. Once he didn’t seem invincible, a variety of enemies emerged, including business competitors and government officials who wanted to take him down when he seemed weak.

A similar moment is happening with oil. It seemed like a god, but now it’s a god that failed. Its blood is in the water, and the sharks are definitely circling. It might sound too dramatic to use the imagery of sharks here, but imagine being a student $50,000 in debt with no job prospects. The fear is quite real for some.

Don’t assume that oil is some Goliath that can’t be beat. All it took was a rock in just the right place (COVID-19) to bring him down. 

God Bleeds – Oil Graduates Aren’t Finding Jobs

Jennifer Sensiba is a long time efficient vehicle enthusiast, writer, and photographer. She grew up around a transmission shop, and has been experimenting with vehicle efficiency since she was 16 and drove a Pontiac Fiero. She likes to explore the Southwest US with her partner, kids, and animals. Follow her on Twitter for her latest articles and other random things: https://twitter.com/JenniferSensiba 

Do you think I’ve been helpful in your understanding of Tesla, clean energy, etc? Feel free to use my Tesla referral code to get yourself (and me) some small perks and discounts on their cars and solar products. https://www.tesla.com/referral/jennifer90562


 

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