Saudi Arabia

  • Algonquin College of Kuwait Deploys Ellucian PowerCampus

    algonqui college of kuwaitBy This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

    Algonquin College of Kuwait, the recently launched Middle East campus of the Algonquin College of Applied Arts and Technology in Canada, has become the first institute in Kuwait to implement the Ellucian PowerCampus solution, it was announced last week.

    The PowerCampus product allows institutions to manage admission needs by digitally organising a number of administrative procedures.

    Since the introduction of PowerCampus, Algonquin College said that it has been able to set up its online admissions portal and achieve its enrollment target. Additionally, the system supports registrations, calendaring, and transcript activities for all students, the college said.

    "We wanted to find the right technology to handle the processes of enrollment, communication plans, and the management of vital administrative tasks," said Saud Jafar, Algonquin College's chairman. 

    "We strive to use the best technology to support our students and invest in measures that make learning easily accessible. Ellucian PowerCampus allows us to support and streamline administrative responsibilities and helps students perform tasks more effectively."

    Another benefit of PowerCampus, the college said, is that it creates and shares analytics-based network reports related to institutional performance, helping colleges and universities monitor their progress and goals.

    "We are very excited about the partnership between Ellucian and Algonquin College as they open their doors to students in 2015. The college understands the importance of technology for students and the running of their institution, and has implemented solutions that not only benefit learners, but help to cement its presence in the region as innovative and forward thinking," said Mathew Boice, MEA vice president at Ellucian.

    "With Kuwait and the rest of the GCC continuing to expand their education offerings, institutions are turning to technology to support their development needs." 

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  • Launch of MOOCs-for-Refugees Program

    MOOC wordleThe U.S. Department of State and massive open online course provider Coursera are partnering in launching Coursera for Refugees, a program to offer career training to displaced people around the world. The program will focus on nonprofits that help refugees, which will be able to apply for fee waivers to access the Coursera course catalog. The organizations will then be able to offer free access to MOOCs to the refugees they serve. The State Department will help Coursera find organizations that can host in-person cohorts of refugees enrolled in the same MOOC. The first such cohort will be hosted at the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon. Coursera is the latest MOOC provider to offer educational services to refugees. Earlier this year, edX partnered with Kiron, a free education provider for refugees, to offer college credit to Syrian migrants.

  • Northeast Ohio schools seeing fewer students from Saudi Arabia

    21258902 mmmainBy Karen Farkas for

    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.

  • Qatar’s Isolation Disrupts Regional Research

    qatar main smallBy Sedeer El-Showk for Nature Middle East 

    The recent decision by Arab states to cut diplomatic ties with Qatar has cast a chill on growing research collaborations in a region trying to shift away from a dependency on oil to knowledge-based economies. The dispute has left researchers uncertain about the future, and the severity of the measures has made many hesitant to comment.

    On June 5, Saudi Arabia accused Qatar of funding terrorist organisations and abruptly severed ties with its neighbour, cutting diplomatic relations and imposing a trade and travel ban, as well as blocking Qatari access to Saudi ports and airspace. Regional allies Bahrain, Egypt and the UAE quickly followed, leaving the small nation isolated.

    While pundits debate the geopolitical motives and consequences, this decision has already affected many aspects of life in Qatar and the region, including scientific research.

    Like several of its neighbours, Qatar has in recent years began ramping up its science spending. In 2014, the nation launched the Qatar Genome Project, which published a reference genome for Middle Eastern populations last year, a resource which is bearing fruit in advances in personalized medicine.

    Mariam Al-Maadeed, vice president for research and graduate studies at Qatar University, calls the decision to cut ties “unfortunate”, but like several other leaders in the field, she’s cautiously hopeful. “We have international collaborations and well-established, strong, strategic partnerships with long-term plans that will foster our collaboration with institutions in other regions.”

    While the US, China, and Europe make up the bulk of Qatar’s collaborations, Egypt and Saudi Arabia rank as Qatar’s third and seventh largest research partners, respectively. The economic sanctions and travel ban endanger the future of these collaborations, undermining research that could benefit the entire region. Likewise, bilateral collaboration and funding agreements that were under discussion between institutions in Qatar and these neighbouring countries have now been put on hold.

    Scientists, who spoke to Nature Middle East on condition of anonymity, are concerned about the long-term effects of Qatar’s isolation. “Researchers in the region have been working to build a research establishment based on collaboration, and this political decision will make it more difficult,” admits a Qatar-based scientist. “We hope the situation will be resolved soon in order to avoid permanent damage to what has been built.”

    Another researcher adds that the decision is expected to prevent travel within the region for conferences or training, and stop labs in the region from sharing samples. Qatari institutes which rely on vendors in Dubai or Saudi Arabia will now have to order supplies and technical support directly from the US, adding cost and delays.

    “The severe measures... could have a significant and long-lasting negative impact on the development of higher education and research in the GCC and the entire region,” says Hilal Lashuel, a professor at the Brain Mind Institute at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, Switzerland, and former executive director of the Qatar Biomedical Research Institute.

    “They reinforce the image of a region where the culture and key ingredients for achieving scientific excellence and innovation do not exist. By sending a signal that the region is unstable and unpredictable, they will also discourage talented students, scientists, and professionals from pursuing careers or collaborations in the region.”

    In the long term, researchers fear, the decision to isolate Qatar might end up curtailing advancement and development. “Scientists and academics are the vanguard of change and progress, and undermining them limits their ability to make a better future for everyone,” says the unnamed Qatar-based scientist. “This isn’t just about today; it’s really about implications for the future, for the next generation.”

  • 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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