Lebanon

  • AUB leaps up influential QS World University Rankings for 2016

    In a press release by the American University of Beirut, it said: "The QS World University Rankings for the year 2016/2017 issued on September 6, 2016 show progress on AUB's overall ranking amongst universities worldwide with an increase of 40 positions or spots, making it the university with the most improvement amongst the top 250 ranking universities in the past year. With an overall score of 43.3, AUB ranks 228 amongst universities worldwide, jumping from last year's score of 268."

    Release added: "The improvement in ranking is mainly due to an increase of 18 places in the Academic Reputation indicator (considered the centerpiece of the QS rankings and carrying a weighted score of 40% of the overall performance score) and 21 places in the Student-to-Faculty ratio (weighted at 20%) which evaluates the level of teaching quality through calculating the ratio between two datasets, full time equivalent students per full time equivalent faculty."

    "This significantly improved ranking is a clear testimony of the University's continuous drive for sustaining excellence in teaching, research, and service, and for becoming a premier University not only in the region but worldwide," Interim Provost Mohamed Harajli told us. "The AUB community, including students, faculty, staff, and alumni should feel proud of this remarkable achievement."

    Over 100,000 survey responses were collected by the think tank Quacquarelli Symonds (QS), considering 4,322 universities, with 916 evaluated in one of the most comprehensive and trusted global ranking processes, the only one independently scrutinized and International Ranking Expert Group (IREG) approved.'

    AUB ranks in the top 100 worldwide on two indicators: Employer Reputation (10% of overall score), taking into consideration the reputation of the university amongst employers and the resulting employability of fresh graduates; and International faculty (5% of overall score), assessing success in attracting academics from other nations.

    All the University's figures and indices for the Citations per Faculty category are higher for the year 2016, although AUB's ranking dropped for this category, indicating a rise in research figures across all universities. AUB increased its publishing from less than 500 to over 1,000 papers per year since 2015. AUB ranked 73rd in the world and first in the Arab world in employment reputation.

    "This is a significant evidence of the high quality of the faculty that AUB has and the services that our institution provides to students, the great and relevant education that it offers to its students, and the high caliber of workforce and leaders that it produces and makes available to the local and regional economies and societies," Director of AUB University Libraries, Dr. Lokman Meho told us.

    "I am heartened to learn of the prestigious QS rankings and their affirmation of us as the finest institution of higher learning in Lebanon and among the top 3 in the Arab world," President Fadlo R. Khuri told us.

    "While these rankings by no means can reflect all of the tremendous impact and value that AUB provides for Lebanon, the Arab world, and the international community as a whole, they do serve as affirmation of our continued progress towards being unanimously acclaimed as one of the finest universities in the world."

    Article Source : NNA

  • AUB leaps up influential QS World University Rankings for 2016

    In a press release by the American University of Beirut, it said: "The QS World University Rankings for the year 2016/2017 issued on September 6, 2016 show progress on AUB's overall ranking amongst universities worldwide with an increase of 40 positions or spots, making it the university with the most improvement amongst the top 250 ranking universities in the past year. With an overall score of 43.3, AUB ranks 228 amongst universities worldwide, jumping from last year's score of 268."

    Release added: "The improvement in ranking is mainly due to an increase of 18 places in the Academic Reputation indicator (considered the centerpiece of the QS rankings and carrying a weighted score of 40% of the overall performance score) and 21 places in the Student-to-Faculty ratio (weighted at 20%) which evaluates the level of teaching quality through calculating the ratio between two datasets, full time equivalent students per full time equivalent faculty."

    "This significantly improved ranking is a clear testimony of the University's continuous drive for sustaining excellence in teaching, research, and service, and for becoming a premier University not only in the region but worldwide," Interim Provost Mohamed Harajli told us. "The AUB community, including students, faculty, staff, and alumni should feel proud of this remarkable achievement."

    Over 100,000 survey responses were collected by the think tank Quacquarelli Symonds (QS), considering 4,322 universities, with 916 evaluated in one of the most comprehensive and trusted global ranking processes, the only one independently scrutinized and International Ranking Expert Group (IREG) approved.'

    AUB ranks in the top 100 worldwide on two indicators: Employer Reputation (10% of overall score), taking into consideration the reputation of the university amongst employers and the resulting employability of fresh graduates; and International faculty (5% of overall score), assessing success in attracting academics from other nations.

    All the University's figures and indices for the Citations per Faculty category are higher for the year 2016, although AUB's ranking dropped for this category, indicating a rise in research figures across all universities. AUB increased its publishing from less than 500 to over 1,000 papers per year since 2015. AUB ranked 73rd in the world and first in the Arab world in employment reputation.

    "This is a significant evidence of the high quality of the faculty that AUB has and the services that our institution provides to students, the great and relevant education that it offers to its students, and the high caliber of workforce and leaders that it produces and makes available to the local and regional economies and societies," Director of AUB University Libraries, Dr. Lokman Meho told us.

    "I am heartened to learn of the prestigious QS rankings and their affirmation of us as the finest institution of higher learning in Lebanon and among the top 3 in the Arab world," President Fadlo R. Khuri told us.

    "While these rankings by no means can reflect all of the tremendous impact and value that AUB provides for Lebanon, the Arab world, and the international community as a whole, they do serve as affirmation of our continued progress towards being unanimously acclaimed as one of the finest universities in the world."

    Article Source : NNA

  • Humanities research absent at Lebanese universities

    LebaneseUniversitiesBattleQuantityQualityBy Oliver Ramsay Gray for The Daily Star

    The absence of high-level humanities research in Lebanon is widespread and brings with it consequences that go beyond academia. A main aspect of the poor state of humanities in Lebanon is the failure to bridge the gap between academia and a wider audience. Despite Lebanon’s pride and reputation in higher education there is a notable absence of public intellectuals.

    The lack of public-academic engagement weakens the humanities’ reputation as it gives off the impression that the humanities are of little worth to society.

    “Colloquially, to philosophize is to bullshit,” said Rami El Ali, assistant professor of Philosophy at the Lebanese American University.

    “[That’s because] it’s not immediately obvious what we’re contributing to society.”

    Ali said it was understandable “because this is a post-war society [and people] are very concerned about making a living.”

    This reputation is reinforced by many parents who are well known for placing pressure on their children to study science, engineering, or medicine – a “serious problem,” according to Selim Deringil, professor of History at LAU. Only four sophomore entry students enrolled in LAU’s Translation program this year, and not one in Arabic, History, or Philosophy.

    Deringil explained that this is a common characteristic among developing nations, and is by no means limited to Lebanon.

    Financial struggles and job prospects in the country play their part as well, tying into the low status and low priority given to the humanities. Abdul Rahim Abu-Husayn, professor of History at the American University of Beirut pointed out that “in the West, you can live by writing... here you cannot.”

    Despite the 40 or so universities that Lebanon boasts, Abu-Husayn dismissed their ability to sustain and support an academic culture. “Apart from a few institutions, the others are just dispensing degrees and making money,” he said.

    The problems begin in secondary school teaching that is also failing the humanities.

    There is a need for history students to “relearn” what they studied at school, according to Abu-Husayn. “I succeed with 50 percent of them. I fail with the other 50 percent,” he said.

    It is not only the narrow confines of the course, however. The wider humanities culture at school is severely lacking and uninspiring Deringil explained.

    “They [students] have the idea that they just have to memorize,” he said. “They just don’t like reading.” It is no surprise on that report that the humanities are easily dismissed as a soft subject.

    In the professional arena of academia there are issues as well. There is a widespread lack of engagement with recent Lebanese history in both research and teaching at other leading institutions.

    Currently not one professor at the AUB’s history faculty is conducting sustained research into post-World War II Lebanese history. Abu-Husayn explained that “our department is rather conservative in this respect.” He added, however, that history was very useful for understanding contemporary affairs.

    This is in part due to the significance of the relationship between the humanities and politics according to Deringil. “It teaches you to think, it teaches you to question... and not accept received wisdoms,” he said.

    But given what he also describes as the “amazing baggage of recent memory,” this is problematic to say the least.

    History is an extremely contentious subject and because of this “one of the major bones of contention that can lead to civil conflict,” as Abu-Husayn said he experienced even within the classroom when he began to teach early Islamic history. “Even academic historians generally tend to follow a sectarian history,” he said.

    Another telltale sign of the shortcomings of the humanities in Lebanon is the persistence of inaccuracies believed to be historical facts. A common myth is that Fakhr al-Din I met Sultan Selim I, who bestowed upon him the title of sultan al-barr (sultan of the land). However, Kamal Salibi in an article published in 1973 entitled “The Secret of the House of Ma’n” proved that Fakhr al-Din I actually died 10 years before the meeting was meant to have taken place. Yet the story persists.

    Another myth, according to Deringil is the belief, particularly among Christians, that Youssef Bey Karam opposed and resisted the Ottoman Empire.

    Records have proved that Karam had tried to become an Ottoman official himself.

    The myths, and the inaccuracies they entail, are built up around particular communities and have contributed to divisions within society by reinforcing separate, distinct identities. Deringil called for steps to bridge such gaps. “I think it’s a very important part of our profession to reach out to people who are not academics,” he said. “I’m not sure we’re doing enough ourselves to [implement] that.”

    Ali has gone beyond the realm of academia and has recently been involved with the Beirut Madinati movement and is now an assembly member – “something like Beirut Madinati, a lot of the people who are there have done stuff that has to do with the humanities.”

    From the Secular Club at AUB to the Intersectional Feminist Club at LAU, political activism is closely connected with the humanities.

    In light of the struggling humanities disciplines, this is a worrying connection for Ali, who noted that “none of our problems are problems that have to do with science and technology.”

  • Northeast Ohio schools seeing fewer students from Saudi Arabia

    21258902 mmmainBy Karen Farkas for cleveland.com

    Cleveland State University can no longer count on wealthy Saudi Arabia to send hundreds of full-paying students to its campus.

    The country's new king, facing steep declines in oil prices, has greatly reduced government-sponsored scholarships to students who want to go to college in the United States.

    This fall, CSU has 88 graduate students from Saudi Arabia, compared to 134 in 2015 and 151 in 2014.

     

    The one-year decline translates into a $184,000 loss from in tuition, room and board, at about $40,000 per student per year.

    The number of undergraduate students declined from 443 in 2015 to 337 this year.

    "We have to expect and have already seen a significant drop of international students coming to us," CSU President Ronald Berkman recently told trustees. "The Middle East has shown the most dramatic drop. The government for all intents and purposes has closed those programs."

    Most students are continuing on scholarships awarded in prior years, Berkman said. When asked by a trustee if the number could one day go to zero Berkman said that could eventually occur.

    What happened?

    When the King Abdullah Scholarship Program was established in 2005, there were just over 3,000 Saudi students in the United States, according to the International Consultants for Education and Fairs, which monitors international education. Enrollment swelled to just under 60,000 students in 2014.

    Saudi Arabia currently sends the fourth-largest number of students to the United States, after students from China, India and South Korea, according to the Institute of International Education.

    The scholarship program, which is funded through 2020, includes room, board, tuition and travel and living costs.

    But it has become more restrictive, with a higher threshold for academic and language qualifications. CSU has drawn students who required pre-academic language training.

    And scholarship students may be sent only to to the world's top 100 universities.

    "We can attribute the decline certainly to the scholarship changes and the new leadership," said Cindy Skaruppa, vice president of enrollment services at CSU. "It's not that the Saudi students were dissatisfied with their experiences."

    Are other colleges affected?

    Many colleges across the country are seeing declines in Saudi Arabian students,  Inside Higher Ed reported. The drop has been greater for undergraduate and intensive English programs than for graduate degrees.

    Enrollment of students from Saudi Arabia declined from 669 in 2015 to 558 this year, Kent State University officials said.

    Kent State had increased the total number of international students on campus from 230 in 2008 to 3,000 in 2015.

    Saudi students now comprise 19 percent of total international student enrollment.

    What is CSU doing?

    About 9 percent of CSU's students now are from outside the country, compared to about 11 percent in recent years.

    CSU has about 50 Saudi students who pay their own costs, without help from the Saudi government, Skaruppa said.

    The university also has established partnerships with universities in China and has begun recruiting students from other countries, including Oman and Kuwait.

    It is also promoting its English as a Second Language program overseas.

    The university is investigating offering scholarships to international students, she said. And faculty and administrators with international ties are being asked to recruit when they are overseas.

    What about enrollment from other countries?

    Japan stands as historical precedent showing international students can stop coming to the United States, Inside Higher Ed reported. In 1995, Japan sent 45,531 students to study in the US. In 2015, just 19,064 Japanese students were in the United States, according to the Institute of International Education.

    The number of international students has risen sharply in the last 20 years, mainly due to China, Insider Higher Ed said. In 1996 there were 39,613 Chinese students studying here. In 2015 there were 304,040.

    But university officials are concerned that number may drop because China has more fully developed its own universities, Berkman told trustees.

    "We, too, are concerned about China, but haven't seen a shift in application or enrollment patterns," said Richard Bischoff, vice president for enrollment at Case Western Reserve University.

    CSU and other universities are also trying to stem a potential decline of students from India, which is issuing fewer student visas, Skaruppa said.

    CSU currently has 505 students from India in graduate programs this fall, compared to 706 in 2015, she said.

  • Pharm.D. program gains renewed accreditation

    acpe reaccreditation 2015 01 180“This is a great testimony to the hard work and dedication of the School of Pharmacy’s dean, faculty, staff and students. Their passion for continued and unparalleled excellence in the Pharm.D. program have paid off handsomely,” said LAU President Joseph G. Jabbra of the news that the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE) had extended the university’s Doctor of Pharmacy program’s accreditation for another eight years.

    The ACPE is the only agency in the U.S. that offers accreditation to Pharm.D. programs and LAU’s School of Pharmacy (SOP) first gained accreditation — which will be extended for another eight years this coming June — in 2002.

    “The process was long and challenging. In addition to the comprehensive on-site review of the ACPE visiting team in the fall, we had for two years been preparing a self-study report,” explains Imad Btaiche, interim dean of the SOP. “ACPE standards are comprehensive. Each one addresses a part of the program and the school. Producing the report required a great deal of coordination and data collection, focusing on students, faculty, assessment, curriculum, practice experiences, facilities and finance,” he adds.

     

    As a guarantor of quality, accreditation affords LAU’s graduates opportunities to work in the best hospitals in the U.S. “I have been working very hard to ensure my place in the Pharm.D. program,” says fourth year pharmacy student Vikan Aznavorian. While there are 75 students enrolled in each of the five years that make up the B.S. in Pharmacy curriculum, only 30 are accepted annually to the Pharm.D. program, which requires an additional sixth year of study.

    Aznavorian is confident and determined, however. Spending half of his final year learning at a hospital in Texas is only a part of the appeal of the LAU program. “I intend to spend my residency in the States, so graduating from a U.S. accredited program with experience at a hospital in that country will give me a huge advantage.”

    Pharm.D. student Alexandra Abi Saleh has just returned from Texas, where she and other sixth year students spent a semester completing core courses at the Houston Methodist Hospital. “Educationally it was great,” she enthuses. “I was exposed to a lot and we learned and had hands on experience in every aspect of clinical pharmacy, including in-patient and out-patient care and in the E.R.”

    The affiliation with the Methodist Hospital is one of many factors that ensured continuation of the LAU program’s accreditation, says Btaiche. “It has been an asset of quality to our students. Pharmacy is a practice-based profession, so you have to provide them with good sites for their practice so they will be well-prepared.”

    While very pleased with the renewed accreditation, Btaiche sees it as a springboard for further program development. “We now intend to focus on faculty research productivity, possibly expanding into graduate programs for pharmaceutical education,” he says. “We also hope to further develop the clinical practice model at our own university hospital, to enable greater cooperation alongside other medical professionals in the interest of patient care.”

  • Reaching The Next Level Of Female Empowerment In Saudi Arabia

    Saudi WomanBy Rowaida Alerwi for The Huffington Post

    Over time, Saudi Arabia has adopted a society that has maintained traditional and religious customs. However, some changes have taken place, and in comparison to the traditional norms of Saudi Arabian society, these changes have been drastic.

    When Saudi Arabia first became a nation in 1932, education was limited to a few select schools. However, nowadays free access to education, from kindergarten to university, is every Saudi citizen's right. Although it was focused on males at the beginning, ever since the first school for females was built in 1956, female education has seen significant progress.

    The creation of colleges and universities for women has become commonplace. Princess Nora bint Abdul Rahman University (PNU) was the first women's university in Saudi Arabia and the largest women-only university in the world. The increased education of females in Saudi also played an important role in the decision to allow women to vote in municipal elections for the first time in 2016.

    Education affects both the Saudi and female labour force participation rates in many ways. In 2013, 60 per cent of graduates in Saudi Arabia were female, only 17 per cent of these women actually ended up in the job market. Many graduates end up unemployed, as the job market is still not very welcoming to women. Even though King Abdullah was viewed as a very cautious reformer of women's rights by changing the law to allow women to work in shops, progress remains slow since this 2011 change.

    Nevertheless, there appears to be a coming together that is creating greater opportunities for female entrepreneurs in the country. Saudi Arabia stands out as a country where entrepreneurship is well-perceived and is seen as a worthy career choice for women. This type of advancements will not only be an important factor in the social advancement of women, but will more broadly result in potential economic development for the country. According to Saudi's goals announced on April 25th of this year, Saudi aims to increase women's participation in the workforce from 22 per cent to 30 per cent by 2030.

    An increasing number of women in Saudi Arabia have begun to achieve significant success in the entrepreneurial field, tackling big businesses and male-dominated industries to make their unique mark on the economy. In light of recent increases in female-friendly business opportunities, several female entrepreneurs have shown that they are both willing and able to step out of the box to find creative jobs that ignite their passions and challenge them.

    Some examples include Yatooq, a young innovative coffee startup led by Lateefa Alwaalan, focuses on the most famous coffee in Saudi and the Arabian Gulf region, Arabic coffee. There's also Fyunka, a fashion brand of well-known Jeddah based designer, Alaa Balkhy, who gains her inspiration from contemporary pop-culture.

    I was thrilled to be a part of G(irls)20 Summit in Beijing, China, which brought together 24 delegates from across the world and gives them the opportunity to gain leadership and communication skills. It is a great way to advocate young females in order to maximize their potential to eventually initiate their own ideas. After meeting this year's delegates, I'm sure some of the delegates will be the great entrepreneurs of tomorrow.

  • ZHA’s American University of Beirut Faculty Wins Aga Khan Award

    FaresAUBBy Merlin Fulcher for The Architect's Journal

    Zaha Hadid Architects has won an Aga Khan Award for Architecture for its Issam Fares Institute in Beirut.

    The award recognises the practice’s building on the campus of the American University of Beirut. The ‘radical but respectful’ 3,000m² building, for the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs, was won in an international competition 10 years ago, and completed in 2014.

    The scheme was selected for a prize along with five other projects from a 19-strong shortlist. The latest awards cover buildings completed between 2014 and 2016.

    The Aga Khan Award for Architecture was created by His Highness the Aga Khan in 1977 to identify and encourage building concepts that successfully addressed the needs and aspirations of communities in which Muslims have a significant presence. Prizes have been given to projects across the world, fromthe Aga Khan in 1977 to identify and encourage building concepts that successfully addressed the needs and aspirations of communities in which Muslims have a significant presence.

    A statement from the Aga Khan Development Network said: ‘The building is defined by the routes and connections within the university; the building emerges from the geometries of intersecting routes as a series of interlocking platforms and spaces for research and discourse.

    ‘The massing and volume distribution fits very well with the topography, and the nearby Ficus and Cyprus trees are perfectly integrated with the project.’

    It added that the building’s construction was a continuation of the 20th-century Lebanese construction culture of working with fair-faced concrete.

    The footprint of the building was reduced by ‘floating’ a reading room, workshop conference room and research facilities above the entrance courtyard using a 21m-long cantilever.

    The winners of the latest awards were announced at a ceremony held at the Al Jahili fort in Abu Dhabi. The awards were overseen by a steering committee chaired by the Aga Khan and featuring David Adjaye and AKTII co-founder Hanif Kara.

    The full list of winners:

    • LEBANON: Issam Fares Institute, Beirut (Architect: Zaha Hadid Architects)
    • BANGLADESH: Bait Ur Rouf Mosque, Dhaka (Architect: Marina Tabassum)
 and Friendship Centre, Gaibandha (Architects: Kashef Mahboob Chowdhury/URBANA)

    • CHINA: Cha’er Hutong Children’s Library and Art Centre, Beijing (Architects: ZAO/standardarchitecture / Zhang Ke)
    • DENMARK: Superkilen, Copenhagen (Architects: BIG- Bjarke Ingels Group, Topotek 1 and Superflex)

    • IRAN: Tabiat Pedestrian Bridge, Tehran (Architects: Diba Tensile Architecture / Leila Araghian, Alireza Behzadi)

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