A New Look at Higher Education
The silo-style disciplines we know no longer have the upper hand in the labour market, which has become more focused on skills. This has forced higher education institutions to adopt a new approach.
Interdisciplinary studies are now well established in higher education, mixing more than one discipline, job-related hard skills, and personal soft skills together. Today, it is not enough to be an architect; you have to understand aspects related to the environment and sustainability. This requires you to be flexible to achieve the tasks required.
Moreover, students’ graduation projects are no longer isolated from the labour market. Arab universities are opening their doors to representatives of industry and society, who put real-world problems into students’ hands to dedicate their graduation projects to tackling those issues.
In this bulletin, we bring you the latest news on higher education in the Arab world, a closer introduction to interdisciplinary studies, and continuing talk about artificial intelligence and education. Stay tuned.
Al-Fanar Media editor-in-chief
Advanced Materials for Clean Energy
We launch our bulletin with news from the United Arab Emirates, where the University of Sharjah concluded on Saturday the fourth Al Baheth Annual Symposium on Advanced Materials, in cooperation with the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA).
The forum, held at the DEWA Academy, was attended by 100 international academics, in addition to researchers from the authority’s Research and Development Centre. The participants engaged in specialised discussions on employing advanced materials such as perovskite and silicon to enhance the efficiency of clean, renewable energy production and storage, and water desalination. For more details, click here.
Scientific Research and Clean Energy
From Egypt, we read about the success of a research team from the Department of Electronic and Magnetic Materials at the Central Metallurgical Research and Development Institute, in developing a new positive charge-transport-layer (HTL) for inverted perovskite photovoltaic cells, using silver thiocyanate (AgSCN) instead of copper thiocyanate. In a statement published on Saturday, Egypt’s Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research said that the new material showed exceptional efficiency and stability in the established cell. The statement says that PV Magazine, an international trade journal that covers the solar photovoltaic energy industry, highlighted this Egyptian scientific success.
Can the “flipped learning” model reduce the burdens on higher education? This question was raised by Nathir Obeidat, president of the University of Jordan, at a scientific forum at his university’s Faculty of Educational Sciences.
According to a statement published on the university website on May 25, Obeidat called for employing “flipped education” to “reduce the burdens of education.” He explained that flipped learning is an educational form that emerged in higher education in the early 2000s and has witnessed rapid growth. He said that this form of education allows students to come into contact with new material through self-organised teaching.
However, there are challenges to this idea, said Obeidat, including the need to formulate a common definition of flipped learning, conduct rigorous studies of its efficiency, establish a global library of open educational resources to support it, and find and build a global network of individuals and academic communities interested in this model.
Learning through Community Service
Palestine’s Bethlehem University recently cooperated with Uniservitate, an organisation that promotes service learning within Catholic higher education, to hold an international academic conference titled “Current Status and Future Prospects of Service Learning.”
Service learning refers to making community engagement a methodology of education. According to a statement published on Saturday, Mahmoud Abu Mwais, the Palestinian minister of higher education, told the conference that this approach allows interaction and participation among all segments of society, which contributes to building relationships between various institutions, bodies and members of society. He added that this methodology combines experience, knowledge, and community service, which provides students with new life skills, which in turn enhances the values of citizenship and social responsibility.
Career Day at the University of Jeddah
As part of its efforts to empower its graduates, the University of Jeddah launched “Career Day 2023” on Tuesday. Writing ahead of the event, the Saudi Press Agency said activities would include interactive discussion panels, workshops, and training courses for empowerment and qualification for the labour market, aiming to attract graduates looking for jobs to attend, participate and interact with various recruitment companies. It also features a job fair offering job opportunities for both sexes, hosting prominent companies and employers in the public and private sectors, and providing pioneering professional and skill development opportunities.
Blended Learning in Dental Education
A professor in Qatar University’s College of Dental Medicine led an international research team in a groundbreaking study of blended learning as part of undergraduate dental education, the university reported. Professor Kamran Ali, head of Preclinical Oral Sciences at the College of Dental Medicine, was lead author of the study, which was published last fall in the journal Medical Education Online. Check out this news story to explore the details of the study, and its conclusions and recommendations.
Are you looking for a scholarship? You can follow our website to keep you updated with the latest scholarships available in international universities. Check the Scholarships section, here, and do not miss our constantly updated feedback on free learning opportunities in the News and Reports section, here.
Chatbot Tutors: Tips for Students and Educators
A chatbot tutor is a software application that employs artificial intelligence and machine learning to conduct a written or voice conversation with a student. It can be used to provide personalised instructions and answer questions. This is a simplified definition of the newly emerging technology that is increasingly affecting our education. How can we benefit from it? How can we avoid its drawbacks? Check this report.
‘The Water Diviner’
Last week, the Omani writer Zahran Alqasmi’s novel “The Water Diviner” won the 2023 International Prize for Arabic Fiction, in its sixteenth session. Check our news story about the award and the laureate. For more details, check this interview with the novelist on the award website.
- Also see: Spotlight: Al-Fanar Media’s Distinguished New Service for Arab Higher-Education Institutions
Closer Cooperation Between UNIMED and IOM
Academic interests are inseparable from human concerns. This reality necessitated a closer cooperation between the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Mediterranean Universities Union (UNIMED), which on Thursday signed a memorandum of understanding aimed at enhancing cooperation in information exchange and scientific research. For more, check out the full news here.
What can interdisciplinary studies provide for generations of learners in a rapidly changing labour market? Paul Hopkinson, dean of the College of Interdisciplinary Studies at Zayed University, in Abu Dhabi, answers this question in an interview with Al-Fanar Media. Don’t miss reading it in full here.