The Chronicle of Higher Education’s forthcoming 28 March issue has another profile of globally-oriented higher ed development initiatives in the Middle East. The relevant (subscription required) entries are:
- ‘An Academic Building Boom Transforms the Persian Gulf: Western universities find opportunities as 3 Arab emirates strive to outdo one another’ by Zvika Krieger
- ‘Pouring Money Into Culture and Education’ by Zvika Krieger
- ‘How the Deal Was Done: Michigan State in Dubai’ by Karin Fischer
One week earlier South Korea received similar thematic attention via:
- ‘South Korea Seeks a New Role as a Higher-Education Hub’ by David McNeill
- ‘American Colleges See Potential in Korean Partnerships’ by Karin Fischer
While it is beneficial to see all of this coverage, it is worth noting that such articles (often the most intensely circulated of all if you watch the ‘most emailed’ lists) repetitively generate anxiety in many Western university campuses that are revising their internationalization strategies, but with no substantial ‘overseas’ presence. Coverage gets circulated, debates ensue, and positions emerge including:
- is this a modern higher ed variant of the Klondike gold rush (serious anxiety…)?
- is this fool’s gold (yes, no, yes, no…)?
- is this an unreachable destination (look at that list…)?
and so on.
At another level, some within deliberating universities might argue that this phenomenon is the outcome of authoritarian ‘developmental states’ luxuriating on the top of a structural wave, fueled by the intertwined effects of a global fossil fuel boom and the conflict in Iraq. These are states, though, that are cognizant of the fact that fossil fuels (and economic boom times) will not last forever.
Regardless of views on this phenomenon, these new global knowledge spaces reflect the diffuse effects of the attractiveness of the US higher education system, in particular, to elites in countries that are seeking to rapidly transform their societies and economies for the knowledge economy, while concurrently branding said societies and economies. The attractiveness of this model is also, in a fascinating way, quite disconnected from the turmoil associated with other elements of US geostrategic maneuverings in the same region.
ps: the Chronicle helpfully included the following list of initiatives in the Middle East, though the list is not comprehensive.
SOME FOREIGN UNIVERSITIES WITH BRANCHES IN THE GULF
Carnegie Mellon University
Opened: Fall of 2004
Offers: B.S. degrees in computer science, information systems, and business
Opened: Fall of 2005
Offers: B.S. in foreign service
Opens: Fall of 2008
Will offer: B.S. in journalism and communication
Texas A&M University
Opened: Fall of 2003
Offers: B.S. in chemical, electrical, mechanical, and petroleum engineering. In 2007, added master’s programs in engineering and science.
Virginia Commonwealth University
Opened: Fall of 1998
Offers: B.F.A. in communication design, fashion design, and interior design
Weill Cornell Medical College
Opened: Fall of 2001
Offers: A two-year pre-med program, followed by a four-year medical program, under separate application, leading to an M.D.
Abu Dhabi, UAE
INSEAD Business School
Opened: Centre for Executive Education and Research in the fall of 2007
Offers: Executive-education courses
Johns Hopkins University
Opens: Summer of 2008
Will offer: A graduate program in public health
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, affiliated with MIT, will recruit faculty members, train instructors, and design curricula.
Opens: Fall of 2009
Will offer: Graduate education and research, with a focus on science and technology, particularly alternative energy
New York University
Opens: Fall of 2010
Will offer: Full liberal-arts curriculum, undergraduate and graduate
Opened: Paris-Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi in October 2006
Offers: License, master’s, and doctorate degrees (following the European system) in 10 departments
Boston University Institute of Dental Research and Education, Dubai
Opens: July 2008
Will offer: Graduate dental training
Offers: Continuing-medical-education courses through the Harvard Medical School Dubai Center Institute for Postgraduate Education and Research
London School of Business & Finance
Opened: December 2007
Offers: Executive M.B.A. and executive-education programs
Michigan State University
Opens: Fall of 2008
Will offer: Full liberal-arts curriculum
Rochester Institute of Technology
Opens: Fall of 2008
Will offer: Initially, part-time graduate courses in fields like electrical engineering, computer engineering, finance, and service management. By 2009, graduate offerings will be full time and will include applied networking, telecommunications, and facility management. By 2010, expects to welcome undergraduates.
Ras al Khaymah, UAE
George Mason University
Offers: B.S. degrees in biology; business administration; economics; electronics and communications engineering; geography; and health, fitness, and recreation resources
American University of Sharjah
Opened: 1997, originally operated by American University (in Washington, D.C.), now independent
Offers: Bachelor’s degrees in the College of Arts and Sciences, College of EngineerIng, School of Architecture and Design, and School of Business and Management, as well as eight master’s programs