Marcel Winatschek's Tokyopunk


11/01/2015

Next month, QU will take the lead in rallying discussion on ranking of universities in the Gulf and MENA region.  University leaders and experts on higher education and rankings from around the world will convene in Qatar at the first-ever Times Higher Education (THE) MENA Universities Summit on February 23 – 24.

The Summit will be held under the patronage of H.H.Sheikh Abdullah bin Hamad Al-Thani, Deputy Emir who will be represented in the opening ceremony by H.E. Sheikh Dr Abdullah bin Ali Al Thani, Vice-Chair of QU Board of Regents and President of Hamad bin Khalifa University.

The packed program will feature discussions on proposals for a new THE MENA universities ranking with a bespoke range of metrics for the region; sessions on university leadership, international research collaboration, industry-university collaboration and teaching excellence; and workshops on consultative rankings.

In the MENA region, universities need to develop a deeper understanding of the ranking methodologies so that they can improve practices that will positively affect their ranking. Similarly, ranking agencies need to have better understanding of the higher education map and dynamics in the region to ensure that ranking reflects education excellence within the parameters of regional practices and priorities. For example, there are currently no methods to directly measure teaching quality in the ranking systems. Focus is placed instead on criteria such as reputation (among peers and employers), faculty to student ratio, internationalization, and most significantly research.  And while research is a key factor in achieving higher education excellence, it is still to a large extent in its developmental phase in the region.  By examining incorporating measures that account for the historical requisites and national priorities of higher education in the Arab World, regional rankings will be better able to capture educational excellence through an internal rather than external lens.

In partnering in this important forum, QU is reinforcing its position as a leader in academic and research excellence in the Gulf and MENA region to advance the dialogue on the opportunities and challenges in the higher education sector. The region is home to several fast-developing economies, and universities contribute academic and research innovation and best practice in line with stated ambitions of national governments towards a knowledge-based economy.  In this regard, the summit is an invaluable opportunity for us all to come together to discuss ways to further energize this movement and to reflect the region’s academic and research aspirations and priorities.

Collaboration is a key element on this issue of regional university rankings and we are looking forward to strengthening our cooperation with our counterpart leaders and faculty to advance the dialogue and arrive at sustainable recommendations and solutions.

On the topic of collaboration, we continue to engage top organizations in Qatar on academic and research exchanges on issues of mutual interest, that provide invaluable opportunities for our students and faculty, and ultimately have a positive impact on the wider community.  Recent signings with Maersk Oil Qatar on road safety awareness and the Ministry of Environment on fisheries and aquaculture research are indicative of our collaborative spirit and further highlights our commitment to contributing to national priorities and concerns.

The arrival in December of 14 students from Australian National University for a 6-week intensive program to learn Arabic is another example of our far-reaching collaboration efforts.  In keeping with agreements signed with Australian universities, we welcomed the students to the Arabic for Non-Native Speakers Center where they were oriented on Arabic language, history and culture.

With the Center evolving from its earlier position as a program, we have spurred further collaboration with external institutions.  We currently hold cooperation agreements with top-ranked universities worldwide such as Georgetown University, Osaka University, University of Tokyo,New Bulgarian University, Kiev University and Pusan National University.   The center is preparing to welcome a delegation of Korean students in the near future in line with our collaboration activities established with universities in South Korea.  We are pleased to be the standard bearer of Arabic and Qatari language and cultural traditions, and to contribute to its growing significance and popularity globally.