Below is an overview about the higher education scenario of Gulf Countries
such as UAE, Oman, Bahrain, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. this was provided to an education guide published by #edubeanz
brief the history of higher education in gulf countries?
The gulf countries has a tradition for higher education as since the
early 50’s its people were traveling abroad to study in top universities in the
UK and Europe, of course the people were also going as far as India, Egypt and
Japan to study. Most of the gulf countries stated their universities in
the seventies, even though this didn’t stop us from going abroad to gain more
qualification, learn from the culture over there and bring back not only
education but a different way of life.
future challenges and opportunities you foresee in higher education sector in
Since the early 90’s many universities had
started to open its doors to branches in the gulf. As we speak we have over 87
universities in the UAE, more than 20 universities in Qatar, many in Oman,
Kuwait, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. Most of these universities are private
depending mainly on expats living in these countries or students who are not
allowed to enter the source universities due to visa issues. I believe
that the trend is on the upward growth, and since most of these universities
are private they all look for means to become high ranked and try to produce
high quality research. The challenges are mainly in the ranking as
whatever they do may not or will not be equivalent to what the ranked
universities do, but I think they are trying. What we have in the gulf is
strong family ties, new industries and commercial growth, so students coming to
the gulf will experience this and may end up staying here. The only
challenge in my mind is the residency, as our countries do not provide
permanent residence due to our naturalization laws. I think that this may change
in the future which will make studying and working in the gulf countries
something equal if not better than going west.
How do you
rate MOOCs(massive open online courses)? Do you think MOOCs are good for
Continuing education and adult learners
is something that I have insisted upon since I started my consultancy; no one
should stop learning, as the changes in technology, science, health, business
is happening by the second and one cannot live without complete knowledge of
these changes. MOOC or Cursera is never to be evaluated, t is a must and
it is necessary, and it is open to everyone on this earth. I am not a person
that can say that this piece of information is good, indifferent or bad, I can
recommend the courses to students and employees but its upto them to take up
the courses. I feel though that it’s a pity that such resources are
available for human beings and one will not benefit out of them. nobody
can say now that I wish that I studied this or that or the other, it is there, it
is free, it is available and it is high quality, the only three things one has
to put in is effort, time and perseverance.
think the elite colleges( including Stanford, Harvard and MIT) promoting MOOCs
are not only endangering less elite institutions but also undercutting
No I don’t think so, because knowledge
is free and everyone believes this, but when it comes to certifications, then
one has to pay for it, as one will be using that knowledge for further gains.
think MOOCs could be disastrous for both students and professors?
I Think MOOC is revolutionary, and its something that
should have been done from time memorial, of course prior to the internet
revolution the TV could have been used for MOOC, which means we have to have
manpower, which was a major inhabitant, or courses will be printed, which again
is costly. Having MOOC courses online means that we are allowing the public to
benefit “for free” from the knowledge the universities are selling, in the time
the public has, which was utilized in watching soap opera. MOOC is a great
thing as the parents can be involved with the same courses the son or daughter
is taking, which means three for the price of one. Plus its high time
that the universities start giving to the public instead of continuously
think a higher education degree should provide ROI (Return on Investment)?
Yes and no. yes because the students need to use
that qualification for finding jobs or doing business; no because we all need
to be educated.
the preferences of the students of UAE regarding with Higher education? Do you
think there are still less options in front a student beyond Medicine and
Unfortunately we have business, medicine
and engineering only, and the focus is on these three items we need to have
law, humanities, art and other faculties
How do you
compare pursuing a higher education program in a foreign country and do the
same in a branch campus of a foreign university in Dubai?
As I mentioned above branch campuses are established for
two reasons, to attract students that cannot go overseas for any reason, and to
make money. It is a good thing as they will try to replicate the good
work happening in the main campus or inter-benefit. One can combat the
disadvantages by starting study abroad and exchange programmes. However, to me
studying abroad is far better as we gain more from being independent, and
seeing how others live.
What is your opinion that the Middle-east
countries are still an under-penetrated market as far as higher education is
To begin with I must emphasise the main
benefit of higher education, which is research. When one does research one has
to have the ability to say everything and not be apprehended due to political
reasons. Education is liberal and so is research, and of course in the
middle east if one says his mind one can easily jeopardise his life. I can only
give one example here which is the 4 journalists imprisoned in Egypt, they are
there because they said what they thought was happening, so if we continue to
prevent people from doing research and discussing the results freely, then we
cannot have good education.
How do you rate Britain, US,
Australia, Canada, India and Pakistan in higher education studies?
Why Pakistan or India? Every country puts a value on
higher education as it’s a multi-billion dollar industry, and because of this
the west (and some of the southern hemisphere countries like New Zealand and Australia)
have emphasised research to make the universities of a high standard, I am not
sure about the applicability of this factor in Pakistan or India.
Which are the good programs which
can bring a better job in Gulf countries?
Journalism, entrepreneurship, marine biology, hospitality, tourism, and of
course the traditional courses such as medicine, engineering, architecture,
design, IT etc.
Do you think the rising cost of
education will be an impediment factor for a quality higher education?
We all would rather die of hunger than stop our children
from gaining a higher education qualification, so the cost is not a factor.