Dubai doctors awarded Harvard scholarships

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Dubai: The Dubai Health Authority’s (DHA) Medical Education Department, in association with Harvard Medical School, has granted 15 scholarships to DHA medical professionals.

The scholarships have been granted for the Introduction to Clinical Research Training programme (ICRT).

Dr Jameela Shaikh, Acting-Director of Medical Education, DHA, said: “We firmly believe in the importance of ongoing medical education, especially because medicine is an ever-evolving field and it is important to be up-to-date with the latest advances in medicine. We also consider medical research to be vital as it lays the foundation for new innovations and advances in the field which directly better patient outcomes.”

Dr Mahera Abdul Rahman Ameer, Project Manager at DHA’s Medical Education Department, said: “This programme provides an introduction to key skills and knowledge in clinical research using an innovative educational model. The ICRT programme is a six-month certificate programme consisting of online lectures, webinars and workshops. The programme’s blended curriculum emphasises skill-based and team-based peer-to-peer learning.”

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Paris tops the chart of student cities

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parisParis is the best city for students, according to this year’s QS world university rankings.

Melbourne is the second most student-friendly city (fifth last year), while the high cost of living in London has seen it fall a place in the rankings, from second to third.

The only other British cities to make it into this year’s top 50 are Edinburgh (26), Manchester (29), and Coventry (45).

The table is compiled by assigning cities scores based on their student mix, quality of living, affordability, employer activity and desirability.

Ben Sowter, head of research at QS says: “[The cities data] provides students with a complementary tool to university rankings. After all, a university experience is intrinsically influenced by the location.”

To be included in the ranking, each city must have a population of over 250,000, and be home to at least two ranked institutions in the QS World University Rankings. In all, 116 cities in the world qualify on this basis.

Twenty-nine countries are represented in top 50: the US has eight cities on the list, followed by Australia (6), the UK (4) and Canada and Japan with three apiece. Europe boasts 20 cities, North America 12, Asia nine, Oceania seven and South America two.

London’s drop in position this year is mostly down to its high cost of living, says Sowter. “London is an amazing city for students and the only city in the world to come top in two out of five of our indicator categories.

“However, affordability is a key factor for many international students and thus for us here as well, and perhaps due to the relative strength of the UK economy, more than half of London’s dropped points are in this category.”

Edinburgh’s position has improved by six places on last year’s performance, Manchester has held steady, while Coventry makes it into the top 50 for the first time, owing to its very high score for student diversity.

The top ten student cities

  1. (1) Paris
  2. (5) Melbourne
  3. (2) London
  4. (4) Sydney
  5. (7) Hong Kong
  6. (8) Boston
  7. (17) Tokyo
  8. (9) Montreal
  9. (13) Toronto
  10. (14) Seoul

• See the full rankings and scores breakdown

Source:, First published on November 25, 2014

UAE commission seeks to raise the bar for higher education in the Middle East

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DUBAI.  The regulation of higher education in the country is setting a precedent across the Middle East, where quality standards are still lacking, academics said on Wednesday.

“The Commission for Academic Accreditation [CAA] has not just influenced the UAE but the whole region,” said Prof Hossam Hamdi, vice chancellor of the University of Sharjah. Part of the Ministry of Higher Education, the CAA was set up 12 years ago as the Arabian Gulf’s first quality assurance body.

Read more: UAE commission seeks to raise the bar for higher education in the Middle East

Hong Kong moves up to No 5 in ranking of best cities for international students

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By Ng Kang-chung

Hong Kong has moved up two places to become the world's fifth-best city for international students, according to London-based institution-assessment agency QS Quacquarelli Symonds' annual report.  The city also tops Singapore in Asia in terms of affordable tuition fees, safety and living quality.

The city lost out to four European and Australian cities - Paris, Melbourne, London, and Sydney, which took the first to fourth places respectively.

Hong Kong's overall score of 387 beat Sydney's by just one point. Paris scored 412.

Hong Kong also replaced Singapore as the best city for students in Asia. The Lion City, the world's No 3 in last year's report, slid to 15th this year.

Read more: Hong Kong moves up to No 5 in ranking of best cities for international students

Higher education trends in the Middle East

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Last week, we carried the highlights of an IE University counsellor survey that predicted the trends among students going abroad for higher studies.

The survey had inputs from about 204 counsellors from international schools based in more than 33 countries. The survey questions focused on issues like mobility, studying abroad and levels of interest in different university degrees.

“Throughout the Middle East, students are able to see large scale construction projects, Oil and Gas industries and a whole range of technical and often world leading initiatives. I am therefore not surprised by the survey’s findings and would definitely agree that we live in a region where STEM subjects are seen as being very important and a definite route to a successful and rewarding career.” Grahame Bolton

“The aim of the trip (June 3rd to June 7th) was to create, collate and voice our ideas to the IE University Board of Directors as to how education could be improved,” Matthew Bolton”

One of the interesting results of the survey were the trends in the Middle East. While the top course preference from around the world was BBA, in the Middle East, more than 70 per cent of the students indicated engineering as their preferred choice.

The survey also indicated that in the coming years, more than 55 per cent students from the Middle East are likely to go abroad (US, UK, Canada and Spain among other countries) for higher studies.

Grahame Bolton, a counsellor from Repton School, Dubai, who participated in the survey, spoke to Education about the impact and implications of the IE survey and the prospect of students in this region.

GN: Is the popularity of engineering due to students’ belief that Stem (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) subjects will mean better jobs as compared to pursuing degrees in humanities and soft sciences?

GB: Throughout the Middle East, students are able to see large-scale construction projects, oil and gas industries and a whole range of technical and often, world-leading initiatives. Many of the students’ parents will be employed in these areas. I am, therefore, not surprised by the survey’s findings and would definitely agree that we live in a region where Stem subjects are seen as being very important and a definite route to a successful career.

What will this trend mean for the Middle East in the coming years?

We have already witnessed the growth of top UK and US universities setting up campuses in the region. This can only bode well for the economic growth of the region and for students wishing to enter Stem career paths.

But this also means that schools must also look to develop curriculums which will offer students the chance to enter these careers. Studies are telling us that in the 21st-century, students entering the workforce will need to have a whole new range of skills. At Repton, our Vision Committee has already begun to discuss these new skills and suggest how teachers can develop the curriculum and best prepare our students. I believe that all local schools will need to do the same.

Sixty five per cent of the counsellors interviewed from this region felt that more than 55 per cent students from this region are likely to go abroad for higher education. Why this need, considering that many universities have opened campuses in the UAE?

We live in a region with a large number of expatriate workers. Many students will, naturally, return to their home countries for university education. It is also true that university league tables have led many parents and students to reach for what they consider to be the ‘world’s best’ universities.

Local students also often benefit from studying abroad and returning to their home countries and with a much broader outlook and improved skill set.

For our local universities to become a viable option for those who decide to travel abroad for their university education, they need time, success and whether you agree with them or not, higher world rankings.

As a university adviser, I have visited many excellent institutions, offering excellent courses. I always ensure that my students are aware of both local and international options.

Why are students from Middle East choosing US, UK and Canada for higher studies in that order?

The US and UK are, arguably, the traditional leaders in university education. The league tables show their continued dominance year on year. Canada has also proved to be a popular destination, especially in this region for a variety of reasons. Courses are offered in English, universities are very good with many offering expertise in technical fields and industries also operating locally. It has also been a destination for families looking to relocate, and I know of students who have chosen Canadian universities because it can lead to resident status.

How will this survey help process the information to understand and, improve, the status of students of this region?

Universities, schools, education authorities, all need to have a clear direction and fully understand the market in which they operate.

Businesses will consider ‘the end product’ and for us, that is our students. Surveys like this are critical to ensuring that all stakeholders are involved and that there is a platform to discuss future directions and requirements.

I know that our Repton representative, Matthew, really gained a lot from being involved in the IE University Junior Advisory Board and returned much more focused and confident.

Since English is the preferred language of instruction, do you think it would work to the advantage of students in the Middle East to brush up their English language skills?

I believe that all languages are important and actively encourage my students to embrace their opportunities in learning a second or third language. To be fair, English is the most widely used language in the world and if you have a strong command of English, it definitely opens up the opportunity to work almost anywhere in the world and walk on any career path.

As a counsellor, what are your observations on the generation next and their academic aspirations?

At Repton, I am lucky enough to be working with students who are very focused and have a strong desire to be successful in their exams. I have no doubt that they will be successful.

As stated earlier in this interview though, in the future, students will need more than simply excellent academic results.

We offer the IB Diploma because we believe that it encourages students to not only become better learners but also develop those skills and attributes which they will need at university and those which employers are now demanding.

All generations have specific challenges. The next generation will undoubtedly be as academically focused and aspire to achieve as their parents. The real challenge will be how they integrate the new 21st-century skills into their lives and use these to be competitive in their careers.

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