Comparison and Contrast Essay, Higher Education

Comparison and Contrast Essay, Higher Education

Higher Education Classification in the Middle East and North Africa:
A Pilot Study
Rajika Bhandari, Institute of International Education (IIE)
Adnan El-Amine, Lebanese Association for Educational Studies (LAES)
With support from: Carnegie Corporation of New York
February, 2012

Table of Contents

Executive Summary …………………………………………………………………. 1

  1. Introduction
    Study Goals and Objectives …………………………………………………. 8
    Project Partners ……………..…………………………………………………. 9
    Overview of Report. …..………………………………………………………. 10
  2. Higher Education in the Arab World: Overview
    Disparity in Student Enrollment Across the Region ………….………….. 11
    Expansion of Institutions ……………………………………..……………… 11
    Expansion of the Private Higher Education Sector …….……………….. 11
    Diversity Looked At from Many Angles ……………………………………. 12
    Implications for a Classification of Institutions in the Region ………….. 13

III. Study Design and Methodology
Developing the classification model ……………….……………………… 15

  1. Data Collection and Analysis ……………..……………………………………. 17
  2. Findings
    Dimension 1: Institutional Characteristics ………………………………. 18
    Dimension 2: Curriculum ……….…………………………………………… 20
    Dimension 3: Student Profile ……………………………………………… 24
    Dimension 4: Cultural Orientation ………………………………………. 30
    Dimension 5: Regional Engagement ………………………………………. 33
    Dimension 6: International Engagement …………………………………. 37
  3. Conclusion
    Challenges in carrying out the study …..…………………………………… 43
    Recommendations for the future …………………………………………. 46

References …………………………………………………………………………… 48
Appendix: Country Profiles .…………………………………………………………. 51

Executive Summary_________________________________________________________________
While the number of global and country-level ranking and classification systems continues to expand, a
regional classification and assessment of higher education institutions in the Middle East and North Africa
(MENA) region has not been developed. Such a system is particularly needed given the rapid expansion of the
higher education sector in the region, as new domestic institutions and branch campuses of overseas
institutions emerge. As a result, higher education in the Arab countries nowadays is complex and takes
disparate forms. Such a situation leads to some confusion in the ranks of Arab educators themselves, as well
as among international observers, particularly in terms of meanings and equivalences.
From an international perspective, the varying nature of higher education institutions and degrees in the
region has consequences for the way international agencies and higher education institutions can relate to
credentials issued in the Arab countries. This is a challenging issue particularly as students’ mobility from Arab
countries toward the U.S. and other OECD countries has taken a significant leap in recent years. According to
the Institute of International Education’s Open Doors report, out of a world total of 723,277 foreign students
in the USA in 2010/11, 47,963 or seven percent were from the MENA region, an increase of 24 percent over
the previous year. In the meantime, classification of higher education institutions is becoming an international
necessity, either within a specific country (for example, the Carnegie classification in the U.S., and the U.K.
typology), or within a whole region (the European classification, for example).
The lack of an Arab regional classification or common framework has implications for all of the following
stakeholders:
At the research level: Due to a lack of an empirically developed classification of HEIs, researchers and·
research agencies are likely to work with an arbitrary selection of higher education institutions in the
Arab region, resulting in inconsistent or conflicting results, and unreliable or inappropriate
conclusions.
At the institutional level: The lack of a classification scheme for HEIs in the Arab region also limits the·
prospects of networking, exchange, mobility, and cooperation between institutions, in the region and
abroad, of similar profiles and characteristics.
At the selection level: The paucity of information on HEIs and their lack of accessibility limits the·
ability of students and the public to make better informed choices regarding their selection of fields
of study and subsequent careers.
At the policymaking level: The lack of precise data on classified higher educational institutions in the·
Arab region sometimes misleads policy makers, frustrates initiatives for possible cooperation among
institutions, regionally and internationally, and creates confusion regarding: transferability of
students, faculty mobility, and the establishment of quality standards and regional frameworks for
quality assurance.
At the industry level: The current lack of a classification scheme for HEIs in the Arab region also results·
in insufficient research funding from the industry and the lack of university-industry partnerships.
Without a clear understanding of different types of institutions and their features, HEIs are often
mischaracterized and the distinction between research-oriented and teaching-oriented institutions is
not always evident.
All this makes the establishment of a classification system for higher education in the Arab countries more
urgent.

Page 2
Purpose of the Study
Recognizing a significant need for reliable and standardized institution-level data on higher education
institutions (HEIs) in the MENA region, the Institute of International Education (IIE), with support from
Carnegie Corporation of New York and in partnership with the Lebanese Association of Educational
Studies (LAES), initiated a pilot study in May 2009 to develop a system for classifying HEIs in the region.
The selected eight pilot countries included: Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Qatar, Saudi Arabia,
Tunisia, and the UAE.1
It was envisioned that the new classification model for MENA countries would:
Help strengthen MENA institutions locally by providing benchmarks and key indicators on which·
institutions could measure and track their growth and compare themselves to similar
institutions.

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