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Graphic and FAQs: Arab Public-University Salaries

Editor’s note: Where do Arab public-university professors’ salaries stand relative to their countries’ per capita income and to the threshold needed to have a basic middle-class existence? This graphic will show you: Salaries of Arab Professors

The figures are drawn from Al-Fanar Media‘s salary survey. (See also the articles “The Economic Struggle of Public-University Professors” and “Employment in the Gulf: Not Always What it Seems”). Below are answers to questions that we anticipated about this survey. 

Why is this survey important?

This survey is the first regional survey of the compensation of Arab public-university professors. The vast majority of Arab youth are educated at public universities, and so the professors at them are responsible for shaping the next generation. But in many countries, they have little or no economic motivation to take up this important profession. While money isn’t the only motivation, it is an important one, and compensation can show the priorities of governments and societies. This survey is not necessarily an argument for more spending on higher education–economic data indicate that education spending in many Arab countries is strong, but does not always seem to effectively produce qualified graduates.

How did Al-Fanar Media get these numbers?

Reporters interviewed government officials, professors, and university administrators. In many cases reporters obtained documents and spreadsheets about professors’ compensation.

Reporters worked with a set of questions that included:

  •          What is the salary range for professors at public universities?
  •          Are the salaries set by the government or the university?
  •          Are these salaries sufficient to secure a good living for a couple without children?
  •          If not, what do professors do specifically to earn more?
  •          What is the salary level sufficient to secure a decent living (according to the professors themselves)?

After conducting initial interviews, we checked the salary range we arrived at with at least three professors in the country concerned.

How was the threshold for the middle class determined?

We used a basic set of goods and services in Numbeo, an open-source cost-of-living database, to arrive at a minimum-income level needed in a benchmark city to secure a middle-class income. Afterward, comparisons were made between the benchmark city and the capital of the country surveyed based on this basket of goods to determine the minimum-income figure. Reporters checked that minimum-income figure with academics, experts and locals in the country.

How did you weigh spending power in each country?

We used figures from the International Monetary Fund.

How accurate do you think these numbers are?

The salary range is relatively accurate, especially as a comparison between the different Arab countries. The cost of living and the middle-class threshold figure are also relatively accurate but it must be noted there are multiple variables that could affect this number depending on where within a country an academic lives, his or her family size, and other factors.

How were the countries in the survey selected?

We started with a larger list of Arab countries, but were only able to obtain figures for the 12 countries in the survey. We hope to expand the survey in the future.

The graphic for the survey was done by Lucid-Berlin.

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