HCT celebrates ABET international accreditation for engineering Bachelor programmes

SatelliteThe Higher Colleges of Technology’s suite of Engineering Technology and Science programmes has been awarded international accreditation from the prestigious US-based Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, ABET.

The HCT programmes in the majors of Chemical, Civil, Electrical, Electronics, Mechanical and Mechatronics Engineering have been accredited, in conjunction with the Engineering Technology Accreditation Commission, ETAC.

Engineering is one of the most popular programmes among HCT students, with 6,138 students enrolled in the various majors this year. That total number is made up of 4,015 male and 2,123 female students, and makes up about 26% of HCT’s total student numbers.

Dr. Abdullatif Al Shamsi, HCT Vice Chancellor, said the national and international accreditation of its academic programmes was a vital component of the strategic goals under its five-year 'HCT 2.0' initiative, with the ABET accreditation reflecting HCT’s strategic directions and aspirations and being aligned to Abu Dhabi Vision 2030.

Dr. Gilbert Linne, HCT Deputy Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs, said, "Congratulations and please accept my appreciation to all of you who have worked so hard to make this ABET accreditation occur and also to those of you who continue to work very hard to improve the engineering programmes. You should be proud of this important accomplishment."

China overtakes UAE as top host of branch campuses

University of SharjahBy Brendan O'Malley for University World News

The number of international branch campuses or IBCs worldwide reached 249 by the end of 2015, a 26% increase since 2010; and China has overtaken the United Arab Emirates as the country hosting the highest number, according to a new report.

China’s rise is part of a trend of concentrated growth in IBCs in China, Malaysia, Mauritius and South Korea in 2010-15 and slowed growth in the UAE, says the report published by the Observatory on Borderless Higher Education and the Cross-Border Education Research Team or C-BERT at the State University of New York at Albany and Pennsylvania State University.

In absolute terms the growth of IBCs across the world has been steady, with 66 new ones founded in 2011-15 compared to 67 in 2006-10, and by the end of 2015 there were an estimated 180,000 students enrolled in IBCs in 76 countries.

“While there are increasing questions about the sustainability of globalisation efforts, these trends suggest that many countries still see cross-border education as a way to build capacity within their country,” said Jason Lane, a co-director of C-BERT and chair of the educational policy and leadership department at State University of New York at Albany in the US.

Among the top five host countries, China hosts 32 IBCs, compared with UAE (31), Singapore (12), Malaysia (12) and Qatar (11). These countries host 98 IBCs between them, or 39% of the world total.

New host countries include Cyprus, Egypt, Finland, Ghana, India, Malta, Nicaragua, Rwanda and Saudi Arabia.

The IBCs come from 33 different source or 'home' countries, up 18% since 2011. The top five home countries are the United States with 78, the United Kingdom (39), France (28), Russia (21) and Australia (15), which together account for 181 branch campuses, or 73% of total IBCs.

Where there is growth, it “continues to be largely driven by providers based in the United States and Europe”, says the report, International Branch Campuses: Trends and developments, 2016. “Of the IBCs currently under development worldwide, around half are planned by institutions based in the US and UK.”

However, new home countries include Belgium, Estonia, Japan, South Korea, Turkey and Taiwan.

Developing countries continue to become both home and host of IBCs, but growth is very uneven and there remains little activity in Africa and South America: from 2011-15 only four new IBCs were developed in Africa outside of the MENA – Middle East and North Africa – region and just one in South America, the report says.

However, the report says developing and middle-income countries “will play a significant role in both originating and hosting the next generation of IBCs” if existing plans come to fruition: eight campuses believed to be under development are the vision of institutions in China, Egypt (two), Iran, Lebanon and Russia.

This would mark the first IBCs from institutions in Egypt. Of the eight IBCs planned, most will be hosted by developing or middle-income countries with the exception of Iran’s Islamic Azad University, which plans to open a branch in Canada, and India's Amity University which recently acquired a campus in Long Island, New York, the report says.

The motivation for these branch campuses “may be linked to a desire to operate capacity-building institutions that can work collaboratively with the governments and institutions of the host country, as well as a desire to create linkages and pathways with student populations in the host country”.

Overall, there are at least 14 IBCs known to be under development in countries with developing or emerging economies, including Bahrain, Brazil, China (4), Costa Rica, Malaysia, Mexico, Nigeria, Sri Lanka and UAE (3).

The report says China remains a major centre of IBC growth, with four campuses under development, by Russia’s Lomonosov Moscow State University, the US’s Juilliard School in partnership with Tianjin Conservatory of Music (Tianjin Juilliard School), France’s EMLYON Business School in partnership with East China Normal University (Asia-Europe Business School), and South Korea’s Chungbuk National University.

In many cases IBCs under development will be helped by public and private support from the host country, whether via funding or provision of physical space, the report says.

’Gold rush’ period

IBCs are seen as a recent phenomenon but transnational education actually dates back to the 1800s when the University of London began setting up franchise arrangements across the British Empire, the report notes.

The modern IBC, apart from one example in the 1920s, emerged in the 1960s. It reached its ‘gold rush’ period in the 2000s when more than 100 IBCs came into operation. Many institutions began to much more actively look for international opportunities and a trend for creating 'educational hubs' emerged – with many IBCs located in a single location such as Qatar’s Education City.

“The open question is whether over time IBCs of a certain type or within certain countries will achieve a stronger reputation for capacity and quality at scale, influencing national policies and institutional brands. IBCs, in all their diversity, have much room for growth,” the report said.

The estimate of 180,000 students enrolled worldwide in IBCs is equivalent to less than 4% of the five million international students worldwide and a fraction of 150 million+ higher education students globally. While in a few countries such as UAE, IBCs constitute a significant proportion of total higher education enrolment, in most they are niche players, the report says.

Against that, there was a slight decrease in opening of IBCs in 2011-15, and the relatively few openings in 2015 could indicate that IBC activity has reached its peak and is beginning to slow, the report says. A recent survey of universities by the European Association for International Education found that IBC development was the lowest priority among 15 listed internationalisation strategies.

However, the report says this may reflect a lack of scope as well as limited interest. “In some countries there is little incentive for state-funded universities to pursue an IBC, and in some cases it is illegal. For example, the recent change in legislation in the Netherlands marks the first time Dutch universities are formally permitted to ‘go abroad’."

International branch closures

Since 2011, 14 IBCs have been shut down, including two each in Singapore, UAE and the UK. At least five of them were more than 10 years old, suggesting changed circumstances were affecting operations. The reasons for closure are diverse but have included low enrolment and financial losses, which may be indicators of poor business planning and risk management.

Another common cause is conflict with the government and regulatory bodies of the host country. “Support from the host country can make or break a campus,” the report said.

Another important factor is the effectiveness of quality assurance. Ad hoc models of quality assurance when IBCs first emerged let to questions about the legitimacy of IBCs as higher education institutions.

But as they have developed, most host countries have established external quality assurance procedures that address the delivery and award of degrees by a foreign institution. This can mean being regulated as a local institution, or as a local institution but with additional requirements, or as a foreign institution.

The effectiveness of internal quality assurance may be challenged by the limited autonomy that some IBCs have in terms of self-governance and curriculum development, the report says, and by tension with the host government over academic freedom.

Kevin Kinser, C-BERT co-director and professor of education policy at Pennsylvania State University in the US, said: “Quality assurance is adapting as the IBC phenomenon expands into more countries. We are seeing the emergence of new systems for managing and regulating truly multinational universities.”

All you need to know about securing a visa to study in the UAE

ministryOfHigherEducationBy Murtaza Khan for The National

Since highly accredited universities such as New York University and Sorbonne opened their doors in the UAE, there has been an increase in foreign students studying here. In fact, according to a 2014 report by the Ministry of Higher Education and Science Research, expatriate students in higher education now account for an impressive 40 per cent of the total 128,279 students across the UAE. So how can a student secure a visa to study in the Emirates?

How to qualify

While unmarried daughters in the UAE can remain under their father’s sponsorship regardless of their age, sons cannot be sponsored by a family member beyond 18. On an exceptional basis, immigration authorities have been known to allow male students over the age 18 to continue their parent’s sponsorship for a UAE residence permit so long as they provide evidence of attendance at an educational institution for a minimum one year’s course. Such a residency is usually granted for one year at a time and difficult to obtain beyond the age of 21. Therefore it’s important to consider other sponsorship options such as through the academic institution itself. For international students with no relatives in the UAE, a higher educational institute such as an accredited university can generally assume the role of sponsorship, making the application process more streamlined. The application will require submission of the requisite documents followed by a medical check-up. Annual renewal of student visas is required for each year of study.

The fine-print for a six-month gap

Once a student visa is granted, leaving the UAE for a consecutive period longer than six months (180 days) can lead to the invalidation of the visa unless the reasons fall under special exceptions to this rule. For example, medical treatment supported by a doctor certificate and approved by a UAE embassy. This means that students looking to do terms abroad will have to do so for less than six months, otherwise they will have to reapply for a new visa on their return. With many international study-aboard programmes offering four to five-month courses, a dream term in Barcelona or New York is still very much a possibility.

Working on a student visa

Under the Federal Law, students over 18 can apply for work permits enabling them to apply for part-time jobs to help fund their education, rent and general expenses. For the more ambitious students, this enables them to apply for internships or work experience while studying, something that will give them a competitive advantage when applying for jobs after graduating. While this is applicable to the mainland, other jurisdictions have implemented similar regulations for student employment. The Dubai Creative Clusters Authority, for example, announced on Octo­ber 18 that students from selected universities are able to take up employment at about 4,500 businesses across nine creative clusters including Dubai Internet City, Dubai Media City and Dubai Studio City.

After graduation

Many graduates from UAE educational institutes decide that, with no current income taxes, excellent career opportunities and a lucrative lifestyle, the UAE is a place they would like to call home. If not sponsored by a parent or spouse, it is possible for new graduates to obtain employment residence permits sponsored by an employer. However, international graduates unable to find employment are required to cancel their student visas and leave the UAE until employment is secured from abroad.

While female graduates are able to transfer to father/spouse sponsorship, expat men or women with no sponsor or job will be given a 30-day grace period after the cancellation of the visa during which they can stay in the country without a visa.

The cost

The cost of a residence permit for student depends on the sponsor (parent or university), the jurisdiction of the sponsor (in case of university), if the applicant is inside or outside of the UAE and if the application is processed in a normal or expedited way. Further differences may apply depending on the emirate or jurisdiction within the emirate.

In addition to the residence permits, individuals will be required to obtain a student work permit. The approximate cost of a student residence permit is Dh2,500 excluding security deposit (if applicable), file opening fees (if applicable), legalisation of documents and translation (if required). Additional fees of Dh500 for a student work permit will apply.

UAE tops knowledge index in education, tech, research

uae kiBy Sherouk Zakaria for Khaleej Times

The UAE received the highest scores in the second Arab Knowledge Index, a joint initiative between the Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation (MBRF) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

The updated index, initially launched during last year's Knowledge Summit, monitors the status of knowledge in 22 Arab countries to help decision makers, experts and researchers use the information to implement development policies to improve the gaps.

According to the index, the UAE was at the top in most of the six main indices used to measure Arab countries - higher education, economy, technical vocational education and training, pre-university education, information and communication technology (ICT), and research innovation.

The UAE scored 83 per cent in the economy index, 86 per cent in ICT, 61 per cent in higher education, 74 in pre-university education, 72 per cent in technical vocational educational and training (TVET), and 69 in research and development (RDI).

The results of the updated index recorded an increase in almost all indices, like the economy index, compared to 77.59 per cent last year. The ICT index was 77.47 per cent last year and R&D at 50.08 per cent. However, higher education showed a decrease from 72.55 per cent last year to 61 per cent this year.

Hany Torky, Chief Technical Advisor at UNDP, said new areas were added to the report to study certain factors more accurately.

"For example, we wanted to study the impact of the demographic situation on the quality technical education, especially in countries like Egypt and Algeria where a notable increase in population was witnessed," said Torky.

He added that the UAE was also the first worldwide for government efficiency in using ICT and the country's use of IT in the government's future vision.

Qatar and Saudi Arabia were among the Gulf countries that also scored well, compared to last year.

Countries with the lowest scores included Somalia, Syria, Comoros, Libya and Mauritania.


UC Berkeley faculty to teach United Arab Emirates science of happiness

HaasBy Fionce Siow

The UC Berkeley Center for Executive Education, alongside the Haas School of Business and the campus’s Greater Good Science Center, is teaching 60representatives from the United Arab Emirates, or UAE, on the science of positivity to foster a culture of happiness in their work and lifestyle.

According to Hana AlHashimi, happiness representative for the UAE Permanent Mission to the United Nations, UC Berkeley faculty will teach the UAE’s appointed 60 chief happiness and positivity officers, or CHPOs, about the science of happiness from September 2016 to January 2017. AlHashimi added that the CHPOs being taught are workers from a variety of fields, including the government and the private sector.

“The idea is that our new generation of national leaders that have been selected as chief happiness and positivity officers should be receiving world-class knowledge and practical skills in the field of happiness,” AlHashimi said.

The first module of the five-month program was taught from Sept. 4 to Sept. 9 in Dubai by Emiliana Simon-Thomas, science director of the Greater Good Science Center, and Dacher Keltner, campus psychology professor. According to Simon-Thomas, their lessons for the module revolved around the origins and key facets of happiness.

Simon-Thomas said she believes that the UAE is unique in trying to implement and understand happiness in order to increase the positivity of its population and visitors.

“The Greater Good Science Center has been writing and reporting and offering workshops and trainings on the origins of happiness for 15 years,” Simon-Thomas said. “I don’t think there are many other science centers at other universities that have the same knowledge of … teaching about these topics.”

The UAE chose to work with UC Berkeley and the Oxford Mindfulness Centre because they were identified as institutions with significant expertise in the field.

The UC Berkeley Center for Executive Education declined to comment on the project.

AlHashimi noted, however, that the UC Berkeley program is only one component of the UAE’s five-year National Program for Happiness and Positivity. The national program also aims to approach positivity as a lifestyle and to follow up on and measure the UAE’s national happiness.

The campus’s location, AlHashimi said, is beneficial as well. She added that businesses in the Silicon Valley and Bay Area would provide real-life examples of how companies can potentially create happiness in the workplace.

These cross-cultural exchanges are influenced by an “appreciation for cultural diversity” within the UAE, AlHashimi said, which will, in turn, foster new perspectives.

“Happiness and positivity should be an ultimate objective … in all countries,” AlHashimi said. “This goes beyond just economics but really looking at happiness as an ultimate objective in our economic, social and environmental policies.”

Contact Fionce Siow at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and follow her on Twitter at @fioncesiow.

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