MENA Universities Summit 2018 to Take Place in Saudi Arabia

jeddahBy Ellie Bothwell for Times Higher Education

Times Higher Education’s third annual summit focusing on the MENA region will take place in Saudi Arabia in March.

The THE Middle East and North Africa Universities Summit 2018 will be hosted in partnership with King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah from 19 to 21 March.

The event, which is on the theme “Fulfilling our potential: developing the knowledge economy for the MENA region”, will explore how universities can play a leading role in securing a sustainable future for their host nations and the region.

It will host the launch of THE’s annual list of the best universities in the Arab world.

The University of Ulsan and Hyundai Heavy Industries will also present a case study of how universities and industry can successfully collaborate.

The summit has already attracted speakers and delegates from 27 countries across the world but places are still available.

Michael Arthur, president and provost at UCL, will deliver a keynote speech on how international partnerships have fuelled UCL as a world-leading research university, while Feridun Hamdullahpur, president and vice-chancellor of the University of Waterloo, will explore fostering research for the 21st century in his address.

Stacey Lopez, associate vice-president for institutional research and analysis at the University of Pennsylvania, will discuss how the institution uses data to stay competitive.

Meanwhile, Christopher Cripps, director of international and European affairs at Paris Sciences et Lettres – PSL Research University Paris, Juliette Hussey, vice-president for global relations at Trinity College Dublin, and Alicia Wise, senior vice-president of global strategic networks at Elsevier, will debate how to forge successful international collaborations.

Another panel featuring Michele Gazzola, research fellow and author at Humboldt University of Berlin, Chris Rawlings, regional director of Middle East and North Africa at the British Council, and Marie-Betsy Sayegh Akl, director of Edinburgh Business School Arab World, will look at the significance of the English medium of instruction as a tool for higher education expansion and excellence.

The event will also explore how universities can deliver a successful research strategy in a discussion between Umran Inan, president of Koç University, Sang Hyuk Son, president of DGIST, and Bin Yang, vice-president and provost at Tsinghua University, while Jaroslav Miller, rector at Palacký University, Franco Vigliotti, dean at EPFL Middle East, and Charles F. Zukoski, provost and executive vice-president for academic affairs at the University of Buffalo – The State University of New York, will debate how university strategies for recruitment and talent management can reverse the academic brain drain from the region.

The summit will also include a discussion of how employers, universities and government can work together to close the skills gap in a panel featuring Cynthia Wilbanks, vice-president for government relations at the University of Michigan, and Mark Jones, chief operating officer of the Higher Education Academy.

Phil Baty, THE editorial director of global rankings, said the summit will “enable leaders to focus and share their strategies on how higher education can contribute to the rapid development of the region”.

“Given the Saudi 2030 vision and the significant impact that is having already on Saudi Arabia and beyond, I’m delighted that we will be in Jeddah in March so we can hear directly about emerging opportunities for universities and understand the ambitions for transformation.”

Abdulrahman Al-Youbi, president of King Abdulaziz University, said the event will bring together leading politicians, university leaders, world-renowned researchers and important figures from industry and public life, who will “share their methods of building a research strategy”, discuss how to attract industry partners and explore how universities can “play a leading role in securing a sustainable and prosperous future for their host nations and the region”.

“Following the release of the Vision 2030 in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, by our Crown Prince His Royal Highness Prince Mohammed bin Salman, which urges public universities to become independent universities, King Abdulaziz University, one of the biggest universities in the kingdom, is looking to move on from a research university to [become an] entrepreneurial university,” he said.

“I do believe that the MENA Universities Summit will be the perfect opportunity to share experiences, explore the latest innovations and celebrate new achievements in the key issues relating to higher education in the MENA region.”

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