UAE Space Agency partners with 8 major universities


Trade Arabia News Service

The UAE Space Agency has signed MoUs with eight prominent UAE universities in order to support the space sector through collaboration in space science, education, research, technology and applications.

These include the University of Sharjah, Zayed University, American University of Sharjah, Khalifa University, American University of Ras Al Khaimah, United Arab Emirates University, New York University Abu Dhabi, and the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology.

The MoUs provide a formal framework for engagement between the Agency and individual academic institutions.

As per the new agreements, the Space Agency and its new partner institutions will develop and activate space research centres and innovative space education programs.

The institutions will work with the Space Agency to jointly identify suitable research and education projects of mutual interest. Finally, the MoUs also cover collaboration in regards to the implementation of directives or initiatives emanating from the UAE’s National Space Policy.

Dr Khalifa Al Romaithi, the chairman of the UAE Space Agency, said: "These are in line with the foremost goals of the UAE Space Agency. By collaborating with academic institutions within the UAE we will be supporting the space sector, promoting scientific research and innovation, and directly engaging with students in order to inspire them to think about space, technology, and their role in building the future of our country."

US is best for Emiratis looking to study abroad

CareerUAE2015By Roberta Pennington for the National

Choosing to travel to the United States for his post-secondary education was a no-brainer for Saad Hamoodi.

Not only would he be following in his father’s footsteps, but having studied in an American private school all his life, Mr Hamoodi was familiar and comfortable with the curriculum.

"I graduated with the American system, so I’ve always been closer to that," said the 26-year-old Emirati.

When it came time for him to choose a university, without hesitation Mr Hamoodi opted to leave the UAE for Northeastern University in Boston.

"Me, as a national born and raised in Abu Dhabi, I’ve grown up here and I’ve been surrounded by this comfortable, homey environment where everything is pretty much set and ready for you and you have the comforts of your home, your family, just all the services. I wanted to kind of step out of that comfort zone and see what the world has to offer," he said.

Like Mr Hamoodi, a growing number of Emiratis are choosing to enter college or university in the US over other English-speaking countries.

During the 2015-2016 academic year, 2,920 Emiratis enrolled in colleges and universities across the US – the highest number to date, according to the latest Open Doors report published last month by the Institute of International Education (IIE) with support from the US department of state’s bureau of educational and cultural affairs. The figure represents a 300 per cent increase compared to those of 10 years ago, when only 978 Emiratis studied in post-secondary schools in the US during the 2005-2006 academic year.

No information from the IIE was available about which colleges or courses Emirati students opted for.

"It is a very, very popular destination, there is no two ways about it," said Sanjeev Verma, director of Intelligent Partners, which has been counselling students in the UAE about international schools since 2000.

"They just love America, it’s just a cultural thing. I think they find it easier to blend in, and the country is much bigger – and they love California."

The number of Emirati students in the US peaked in the 2000-2001 academic year, when 2,659 enrolled in colleges and universities. But, after the September 11, 2001 attacks, numbers shrank annually to a low of 885 in 2006.

Since then, the student population has been on a steady rebound in US post-secondary institutions.

But in other English-speaking countries, the Emirati student count has been either falling or holding steady. Since 2004, the Emirati post-secondary student population in the UK climbed to a peak of 1,195 in 2008-2009, but has since declined to 955 in 2014-2015, according to the latest data from the UK’s Higher Education Statistics Agency.

It has remained stable in recent years, holding at between 1,030 students and 955 students.

"The UK has always been popular with Emiratis and the number has remained relatively stable in recent years, with growth from other nationalities in line with the overall growth and development of the UAE population as a whole," said Gavin Anderson, country director for British Council UAE.

Taking into account expatriates living in the UAE who enrol in UK colleges or universities – a cohort known as UAE domicile students – the figures are higher. In the 2014-2015 academic year, 3,410 students from the UAE – including locals and expatriates – travelled to study in the UK, according to Hesa.

"This number has been steadily rising for several years," said Mr Anderson.

In Australia, the number of Emiratis in higher education reached a high of 1,205 in 2010, but has steadily decreased to 485 last year, according to the Australian government’s department of education and training international student enrolment data for higher education and vocational education and training.

Canada has the smallest number of Emirati students in its colleges and universities. In 2015, only 75 Emiratis were enrolled in universities and five were studying in the country’s colleges, according to the Canadian Bureau for International Education. The CBIE could only provide data on Emirati enrolment from 2008, when a high of 135 Emiratis were registered in Canada’s universities.

Peter Davos, founder and managing director of Hale Education, a UAE-based consulting firm focused on counselling college bound international students, said flexibility in the curriculum and scholarship funding are "the driving factors why Emiratis study in the US".

"Students can pursue a variety of academic interests and do not have do formally declare their major until the end of their second year of study," said Mr Davos. "Also, there are 3,500 institutions of higher learning in the United States, many of which have tremendous financial resources, which translates into better research facilities, higher paid professors, more and richer extracurricular offerings. In Canada and Australia, there is one university in each country with an endowment of over US$1 billion. In the UK, there are 4. In the US, there are over 75. No other country’s universities can compete with the financial strength of American universities."

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.”

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."

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.


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