THE looked at the MENA higher education establishments by measuring their knowledge transfer, impact and international outlook, thus in Rankings for 2022 that are given by Country breakdown. It would be interesting to compare the same Rankings in 2021.
Arab University Rankings 2022: Country breakdown
The different countries of the Arab region have different strengths in higher education. Here we explore their scores against THE’s five pillars: teaching, research, citations, society (which measures knowledge transfer and impact) and international outlook
Algeria’s overall score is 24.3, based on 21 universities ranked, making it the lowest ranking region in the table. The average score for society is higher than for three other countries, however, at 26.9.
Egypt features in the top half of the table, with an overall score of 59.6 based on 34 universities. While the country scores especially high for citations (71.3), it falls down on international outlook (45.3).
While Iraq’s average overall score is among the lowest in the region, based on 23 universities ranked, the country does punch above its weight in the society pillar, with an average score of 59.0.
An all-rounder, Jordan has average scores in the 40s for all the pillars. And when it comes to working internationally, it scores 53.8, based on 14 universities ranked.
Lebanon is the third-highest scoring country in the region, or the second-highest when excluding countries with fewer than five universities ranked. Its strengths are teaching (82.9) and research (79.0), but its weakness is citations (39.4).
The average overall score for Morocco is 37.4, based on 10 universities ranked. The country’s strongest pillar is society, where it has an average score of 54.2.
With the seventh-highest score in the region (or fourth when discounting countries with fewer than five universities ranked), Saudi Arabia scores well all-round. Its strongest areas are international outlook (75.2) and citations (74.7).
With an overall score of 44.4, based on 10 universities, Tunisia sits around the middle of the table. The pillar on which it performs best is teaching (53.2), followed by research (50.3); it is weakest on citations (23.2).
United Arab Emirates
The UAE has the highest average overall score in the region, when counting countries with five or more universities ranked, at 71.2. It scores especially well on the international outlook pillar (82.4). Its lowest scoring pillar is society at 51.0.
MENA student leaders held their first event of the school year in their newly designated room in the Asian American Cultural Center — one student leaders have worked for years to obtain.
Courtesy of Keya Bajaj
On a rainy Tuesday evening this week, students belonging to Yale’s Middle Eastern North African community attended the academic year’s first mixer to meet new students and celebrate the long-awaited opening of a physical space designated for them.
The MENA community, comprising students from 18 countries across the Middle East and North Africa region, welcomed new and returning members alike at their new room, which officially opened its doors this school year. Located on the third floor of the Asian American Cultural Center, or AACC, the MENA room is the culmination of a long effort by student leaders to claim a designated space of their own.
At Tuesday’s mixer, MENA members connected with other Yalies from the region over generous helpings of falafel and baba ghanoush. Leaders also gave students a tour of the new space.
“We hope to find forever friendships here, to celebrate cultural and religious events together,” AACC peer liaison Zahra Yarali ’24 said.
Most of the evening’s conversations took place in the MENA room. Here, in a homey space decorated with Arabic calligraphy wall art and plush floor cushions, community members swapped stories of cultures “split between two continents,” as described by MENA Student Association President Youssef Ibrahim ’25.
But some attendees did note the room’s small size, which was unable to accommodate all of the event’s attendees.
AACC Director Joliana Yee told the News that the room was furnished with the intention of it being a work in progress — a place that MENA members could personalize and make their own.
In the past years, MENA members have shared space with both the AACC and the Afro-American Cultural Center and were assigned peer liaisons from one of the two houses, depending on which region they chiefly identified with.
But student leaders have pushed back on the legacy system, noting that MENA students have an identity distinct from the other two cultural centers.
“We do not fit entirely in either house,” Ibrahim said.
This sense of not belonging, a common sentiment among MENA community members, is fueled by “a lack of awareness of how big the community is here [on campus],” AACC Associate Director Sofia Blenman said.
Blenman added that the new room is a testament to MENA’s goal of “empowering students to feel … that they are seen.”
Still, MENA students face challenges representing themselves on campus. Official documentation, including the Common Application platform, does not offer a Middle Eastern and North African identity option, so there is no administrative record of who on campus identifies as MENA. Group leaders are therefore forced to trawl through residential college class lists to find new recruits and welcome them into the community.
Yee noted the struggle MENA students face of “being racialized as white in the U.S. context but having lived experiences that are drastically different.”
“There is validity to the unique experiences we’ve had,” Yarali added. “We are reclaiming an identity that has been whitewashed for so long.”
“Leaving an impact on the world is a lot about taking up space,” Yarali added, and the newly-inaugurated MENA room may give members of this group a new sense of hope. The group’s plans for the year include celebrations for Ramadan, the Persian New Year, winter solstice and perhaps a cultural fashion show.
MENA is also looking forward to more student-driven events and continued opportunities for collaboration with the AACC, which hosted Tuesday’s mixer.
But the attainment of the room does not mark the end of MENA students’ fight for representation on campus. MENA students have spent years advocating for a cultural center of their own, and that activism will continue, Ibrahim said.
“I aspire for a physical cultural center of our own,” he said. “It is a right for us to be represented.”
The MENA room will host an event with the Arab Students Association this Saturday, Sept. 10, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Sahem Azzam, Vice President for the Middle East, Africa & Turkey, at Orange Business Services gives his Opinion in ITP on Striking the right balance with edtech. So here is:
Striking the right balance with edtech
While it’s true to say that video tools enabled remote learning and continuity of education during the recent crisis, it’s critical to get children back into classrooms and interacting with their peers and teachers
Thanks to the investment made in advanced ICT infrastructure in some parts of the region, technology has provided a lifeline to help keep students learning in the past two years, and this has brought many benefits. It also raises the question: How do you find the right balance of digital and in-classroom learning to ensure education is effective and sustainable moving forward?
This new shared experience of edtech (education technology) has generated some interesting feedback from the education community, and from parents who have undergone the shared challenges in terms of their children’s education. Parents typically believe that technology needs to be used to a certain extent in learning, but not too much – perhaps meaning not an over-reliance on technology.
Balance is something that has to be considered when discussing the evolution of e-learning, because (to use a technology industry expression) children are the end-users. So, while it’s true to say that video tools enabled remote learning and continuity of education during the recent crisis, it’s critical to get children back into classrooms and interacting with their peers and teachers.
According to United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), nationwide lockdowns impacted the education of over 110 million young people in the Middle East & Africa region, by far the biggest disruption to the education system in recent history. Furthermore, parents and children in the region – particularly those living in rural areas – simply didn’t have access to the resources they needed for online learning.
According to Microsoft, one in five students in the Middle East & Africa region did not have access to the internet or a device to support them during lockdowns.
Pros and cons of remote learning
When online schooling became mandatory practice, education establishments and parents had no alternative but to adapt quickly and make the best of a difficult situation. Technology enabled online learning, much as it did for remote working. It’s something that simply wouldn’t have been possible even a few years ago, as the technologies and tools just did not exist then to make large-scale online learning a reality.
Besides safety, many parents cited comfort and convenience as benefits of online schooling, removing the stress of a commute and school run. Parents also reported enjoying more time with their children, for those working remotely at home. Online learning was reported to encourage greater self-discipline in children, with pupils learning personal time management and organisation earlier in life than they would normally. Some parents and teachers also reported children becoming more confident during online lessons, feeling more empowered to volunteer answers to questions over a shared video call than they might be in a classroom.
However, after several months of home-schooling and online learning, some parents began to find their patience tested, reporting that children were becoming more distant, with the lack of social interaction with friends and other students in class becoming a major issue.
Peer-to-peer interaction has positive effects and can help pupils be more stimulated and engaged in classes, and it can help them establish emotional bonds with teachers and other children. Without these interactions, some students began to feel isolated.
The long-term impacts of enforced online learning are difficult to forecast. Young children don’t always make the best survey respondents, and parents have naturally been eager to get their kids back to some formof normality. However, the World Economic Forum did release a report that talked about a potentially tangible aspect of continued school closures: students risk losing $17 trillion in lifetime earnings (around 14 percent of today’s global GDP), because of Covid-19-related school closures and economic shocks.
Hybrid work, hybrid learning?
There are commonalities between remote working and remote learning, and the impacts of both practices on adults and children are similar. So perhaps one of the ways forward those enterprises have embraced could also apply to education, too: a hybrid model.
Recent times have seen many children engage in hybrid learning models without even knowing the term. Hybrid classes can be a mix of online exercises, pre-recorded videos, and other educational materials that support in-person classes.
When done with the right balance and tools, this approach offers the combination of the best aspects of in-person and online learning and gives students and parents the choice of what learning format suits them best at different times. Hybrid learning might fit very well but is indeed a challenge as it will not always be the perfect solution for some children.
Many of the same technologies apply in hybrid education as in hybrid working. Cloud-based infrastructure and use of managed mobile and video communication and collaboration systems can help education establishments keep students connected, engaged and participating.
According to Jaime Saavedra, World Bank Global Director for Education, “Hybrid learning is here to stay. The challenge will be the art of combining technology and the human factor to make hybrid learning a tool to expand access to quality education for all.”
Indeed, the hybrid model appears as a positive way forward, but education establishments will need the expertise and experience of technology providers to help guide them along that journey and to strike the right balance.
Sahem Azzam is Vice President for the Middle East, Africa & Turkey, at Orange Business Services.
Published by University World News and written by Nic Mitchell, we are informed how international organisations are gearing themselves to confront this literally ongoing climate deregulation through higher education. It’s about how a New postgraduate degree to put Paris Agreement into action for future leaders is aimed through this ultimate degree.
New postgraduate degree to put Paris Agreement into action
Plans are advancing at speed to create a new postgraduate degree specialising on the Paris Agreement on climate change in a bid to develop future leaders able to tackle the challenges of sustainability and advance transformative climate action, the UNESCO World Higher Education Conference (WHEC2022) in Barcelona, Spain, heard.
World Higher Education Conference 2022.
This conference is convened by UNESCO and University World News is the exclusive media partner.
Professor Shinobu Yume Yamaguchi, director of the United Nations University Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability (UNU-IAS) in Tokyo, Japan, outlined the aims when opening the session at WHEC2022 on how higher education can accelerate climate action under the Paris Agreement.
She described the UNU-IAS, which she assumed leadership of in 2019, as a bridge between UN agencies and higher education, and told delegates to the Barcelona conference that work was progressing well on launching a new postgraduate degree on the Paris Agreement and climate sustainability, which was first mooted at COP26 (the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference) in Glasgow.
First of its kind
“The degree will be the first of its kind in the world and the goal is to provide the skills needed across the world to teach action… to implement the Paris Agreement through higher education.”
Professor Yamaguchi said: “Our UNU institute in Tokyo is dedicated to realising a sustainable future for the people and our planet through policy-orientated research, education and capacity development focusing on sustainability, including looking at climate change and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.”
The new postgraduate degree specialisation on the Paris Agreement on climate change is being developed in close collaboration with governments, leading universities and development partners and builds on an existing MSc in Sustainability and a PhD in Sustainability Science offered by UNU-IAS.
Together these two programmes currently have 38 students from 20 developing countries, with scholarships provided to over half of the students.
Develop future climate action leaders
“We are aiming to develop future leaders who will be at the forefront of the climate and sustainable development agenda,” said Yamaguchi, who announced that applications for the new Paris Agreement postgraduate degree will be invited at the end of 2022 and the programme will start in September 2023.
COP26 in Glasgow called on the world to keep the global increase in temperatures to 1.5°C compared to the pre-industrial level, but to implement the measures requires a huge amount of knowledge and government cannot do everything, she said.
“You need large stakeholder coalitions to tackle issues such as phasing out coal and all parties acknowledge the importance of education about environment,” said Yamaguchi.
Transparency a key issue
Transparency, monitoring and accountability are going to be key issues for governments and businesses in meeting the Paris Agreement goals and higher education will play a key role, so people understand climate science.
“We need to develop dynamic training for experts, and coordination across sectors and institutions to collect and share data… and lack of coordination is a problem in many countries,” Yamaguchi told the conference.
Dr Won Jung Byun, programme specialist at UNESCO’s Section of Education for Sustainable Development, welcomed the new qualification from the United Nations University and told the conference that only half of national curricula worldwide mention climate change and fewer than 20% of teachers are able to explain action needed to tackle climate change.
Education systems around the world need to do much more to provide learners with the knowledge, skills, values and attitudes to overcome the climate crisis and sustainability challenges, she said.
Can’t just be left to higher education
But it can’t just be left to higher education, speakers at the session at the UNESCO conference stressed.
Laurent Cortese, deputy head of the Education-Vocational Training-Employment and Higher Education Division of the French Agency for Development, which mainly works in education and development in countries in Africa, said: “If we leave it to higher education, it is too late. We need a holistic approach and to work on environmental and climate issues with the rest of the education system.”
Teacher training is part of higher education in many countries, he pointed out, adding: “We need to ensure coordination between those in charge of higher education and education as a whole and show the importance of issues like climate change and biodiversity.”
Akio Takemoto, programme head at UNU-IAS in Tokyo, agreed it was important to start explaining the impact of climate change at the primary and school level and there was a need for innovative ways to provide a continuous and high-capacity educational system.
Need to look at all levels
“While there was a lot of talk about Masters degrees and PhDs, we also need highly skilled technical people and it is important we train engineers to work with these technicians. We have to look at all levels of higher education.”
Dr Kanako Morita, senior researcher at the Center for Biodiversity and Climate Change with the Forestry and Forest Products Research Institute, Tsukuba, Japan, told the session: “Youth education is important, but so are other actors, including the companies and financial institutions and local government, who are keen to learn more about climate change. We need to consider education at all levels and social scientists have a big role to play.”
Produce ‘maestros’ to get message across
Cortese said the education system needed to produce “maestros” able to get the message across and with the capacity to handle the difficult questions on a scientific basis.
“We can help identify students who can participate in such programmes in the countries where we intervene. Too often, we all work among ourselves with people who we agree with, but that’s not always the most productive.
“We need to set up partnerships with people who don’t necessarily think the same way we do, [and] that would force students to examine their arguments and to review them.
“It is important to develop soft skills and to meet the needs of different people and not just work with university partnerships with the same outlook.
“We need to establish partnerships with companies, so people go outside their comfort zone and are prepared when they meet people who might not think as they do and who are able to see things in a different way.”
Nic Mitchell is a UK-based freelance journalist and PR consultant specialising in European and international higher education. He blogs at www.delacourcommunications.com.
Deserts may seem lifeless and inert, but they are very much alive. Sand dunes, in particular, grow and move – and according to a decades-long research project, they also breathe humid air.
The findings show for the first time how water vapor penetrates powders and grains, and could have wide-ranging applications far beyond the desert – in pharmaceutical research, agriculture and food processing, as well as planetary exploration.
The project, led by lead author Michel Louge, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering in the College of Engineering, has spanned not only a great deal of time but also a variety of terrain. It began nearly 40 years ago when Louge was studying the behavior of fluids, gasses and solid particles.
Wanting to measure matter with greater sensitivity, he and his students developed a new form of instrumentation called capacitance probes, which use multiple sensors to record everything from solid concentration to velocity to water content, all with unprecedented spatial resolution.
When a colleague at the University of Utah suggested the technology might be helpful in imaging the layers of mountain snowpacks and assessing the likelihood of avalanches, Louge went to his garage, grabbed some probes and tested them out in a snowstorm. Soon he struck up a partnership with a company, Capacitec Inc, to combine their respective skills in geometry and electronics. The resulting probes also proved useful in hydrology research.
In the early 2000s, Louge began collaborating with Ahmed Ould el-Moctar from University of Nantes, France, to use the probes to study the moisture content in sand dunes to better understand the process by which agricultural lands turn to desert – an interest that has only become more urgent with the rise of global climate change.
“The future of the Earth, if we continue this way, is a desert,” Louge said.
Whereas other probes can measure large volumes of matter, Louge’s probes go deep and small, collecting data on a millimetric scale to pinpoint the exact amount of moisture in – and the density of – sand. To function in a new environment, though, the probes needed to be modified. And so began a decadelong process of trial and error, as Louge made periodic trips to deserts in Qatar and Mauritania experimenting with different versions of the probe.
The probe eventually revealed just how porous sand is, with a tiny amount of air seeping through it. Previous research had hinted this type of seepage existed in sand dunes, but no one had been able to prove it until now.
“The wind flows over the dune and as a result creates imbalances in the local pressure, which literally forces air to go into the sand and out of the sand. So the sand is breathing, like an organism breathes,” Louge said.
That “breathing” is what allows microbes to persist deep inside hyper-arid sand dunes, despite the high temperature. For much of the last decade, Louge has been collaborating with Anthony Hay, associate professor of microbiology in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, to study how microbes can help stabilize the dunes and prevent them from encroaching into roads and infrastructure.
Louge and his team also determined that desert surfaces exchange less moisture with the atmosphere than expected, and that water evaporation from individual sand grains behaves like a slow chemical reaction.
The bulk of their data was gathered in 2011, but it still took Louge and his collaborators another decade to make sense of some of the findings, such as identifying disturbances at the surface level that force evanescent, or nonlinear, waves of humidity to propagate downward through the dunes very quickly.
“We could have published the data 10 years ago to report the accuracy of our approach,” Louge said. “But it wasn’t satisfying until we understood what was going on. Nobody really had done anything like this before. This is the first time that such low levels of humidity could be measured.”
The researchers anticipate their probe will have a number of applications – from studying the way soils imbibe or drain water in agriculture, to calibrating satellite observations over deserts, to exploring extraterrestrial environments that may hold trace amounts of water. That wouldn’t be the first time Louge’s research made its way into space.
But perhaps the most immediate application is the detection of moisture contamination in pharmaceuticals. Since 2018, Louge has been collaborating with Merck to use the probes in continuous manufacturing, which is viewed as a faster, more efficient and less expensive system than batch manufacturing.
“If you want to do continuous manufacturing, you have to have probes that will allow you, as a function of time, and everywhere that’s important, to check that you have the right behavior of your process,” Louge said.
Co-authors include Ould el-Moctar; Jin Xu, Ph.D. ’14; and Alexandre Valance and Patrick Chasle with the University of Rennes, France.
The research was supported by the Qatar Foundation.
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