Silence Around a Crisis
In our new bulletin, Al-Fanar Media brings you a selection of the most prominent news of higher education in the Arab world, as well as our own stories and a commentary by a scholar of interdisciplinary studies at Zayed University, in Dubai.
One story in the news this week, the decision by Canada’s Toronto Metropolitan University to halt admissions of new students at its branch in Egypt, puts us in mind of what we know about crisis management. We have learned that any crisis goes through several stages: the pre-crisis stage (expectations), the crisis (crisis management), and the post-crisis (lessons learned). However, the most important thing we learned is that solving a crisis starts with acknowledging its existence.
We have also learned about the need for transparency when dealing with crises, and engaging the public and various parties involved the crisis, to help develop solutions to them and mitigate their effects.
Yet the crisis over Toronto Metropolitan University’s decision to halt admissions at its Cairo branch has been met largely with silence. The 39 students currently enrolled at the Cairo branch, which opened just a year ago, reportedly will be given options for continuing their education in Canada or in Egypt.
The matter began with a statement from the president of the parent institution in Canada, Muhammad Lachmi, that raised more questions than it answered. This was followed by silence from the Universities of Canada in Egypt, the facility in Egypt’s New Administrative Capital that hosts Toronto Metropolitan University–Cairo.
A Canadian newspaper reported that various scenarios for solving the problem are under discussion, but all concerned parties in Egypt have remained silent. Al-Fanar Media sought verified information, approaching the relevant education authorities, but got no response.
Silence and delay contribute to crises rather than solving them.
I hope that the crisis at Toronto Metropolitan University in Egypt will end in a way that benefits its students, and that alternatives will be provided for them, so that their families can be reassured about the future of their children, as well as faculty members and administrators.
Al-Fanar Media continues in its quest to provide reliable, independent information about higher-education institutions in the Arab region. We aspire to be an essential resource for them, providing insights and information to catalyse action.
Al-Fanar Media editor-in-chief
News from the Arab Region:
Jerusalem Governorate Denounces Israeli Actions against Palestinian University Students
Palestine’s Jerusalem Governorate has warned that the Israeli authorities have adopted a new policy against Palestinian students that has kept some from reaching their universities.
In a Facebook statement, the governorate said that occupation authorities had banned two students, Baraa Hatem Fiqha and Batoul Iyad Dar Asi, from Al-Quds University in Abu Dis, east of occupied Jerusalem. The decision cited the two students’ union activism as a pretext for banning them from the campus, the governorate said.
Depriving the students of their university education is “a systematic racist policy against education and educational institutions in Jerusalem,” the governorate said. It added that this action comes at a time when far-right Israeli officials are waging a campaign to “capture and Judaize” education in Jerusalem by freezing funds for Palestinian communities and education programmes.
The governorate called on the Israeli government to retract the action against the university students and “all decisions related to the Judaization of education in Jerusalem.” Such interference, it said, violates international charters that guarantee “the freedom of peoples under occupation to choose their curricula and teachers in line with their customs, traditions and religions.”
Number of Egyptian Universities Has Nearly Doubled Since 2014
The number of universities in Egypt has nearly doubled since 2014 to accommodate the country’s increasing number of higher-education students, Egypt’s minister of higher education and scientific research, Ayman Ashour, announced during a meeting with other cabinet ministers.
According to the Middle East News Agency, Ashour said there were 2.3 million students studying in 50 universities nationwide in 2014. By the end of 2022, those numbers had grown to 3.3 million students in 92 universities. The minister also said that Egyptian higher education had made gains in international rankings. The number of Egyptian universities included in the QS World University Rankings jumped from five in 2017 to 14 in 2023, he said, while the number listed in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings rose from three universities in 2016 to 36 in 2023.
He added that other international rankings and indicators showed an improvement in Egypt’s ranking worldwide in scientific research from 37th place in 2014 to 24th place now, after a doubling in the international publication of research conducted by Egyptian universities.
Iraq to Host a Conference on Education Internationalisation
Iraq’s minister of higher education and scientific, Naim Al-Aboudi, announced that 3,000 international students have applied to Iraqi universities for the next academic year.
In his speech at the first conference on government scholarships held by Iraq’s Supreme Committee for Education Development, Al-Aboudi said that the ministry had succeeded in establishing its pioneering “Study in Iraq” project to attract international students.
He added that the ministry was getting ready to hold a conference on the internationalisation of education in November. The conference will host a group of universities that rank in the top quarter of the Academic Ranking of World Universities (Shanghai Ranking) results, in order to expand the horizons of partnership between Iraqi universities and their international counterparts.
Saudi Workshop Reviews Academic Standards in Biochemistry
Saudi Arabia’s National Centre for Academic Accreditation and Evaluation held a workshop on “Specialised Academic Standards and Learning Outcomes in Biochemistry.”
A team of specialists from Saudi universities at the workshop reviewed international practices and reference comparisons in the field, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Sunday. Scientists and participants representing different sectors of the labour market also discussed the skills and knowledge required in biochemistry.
The workshop came as part of a national “readiness” programme aimed at measuring and improving the outcomes of higher-education programmes, to make sure graduates are equipped with the knowledge and skills required for each specialised field, and ready to join the labour market.
Mass Communication Students from 174 Universities to Participate in 2nd GMC Workshops
The second edition of the Global Media Congress will welcome mass communication students from 174 universities around the world to Abu Dhabi this fall. The three-day exhibition and conference will take place from November 14 to 16 at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC).
According to the Emirates News Agency (WAM), the congress is a major international event that brings together media institutions from different parts of the world to explore the future of the global media industry and its role in advancing sustainable development across the world. The organisers included a series of workshops on the sidelines of the conference this year with the aim of developing students’ expertise and acquainting them with various media industry outlets and their functions in society.
The conference will cover topics such as media education, environmental and sustainability-related media, sports media, and the challenges and opportunities that new technologies present for the media sector.
News from Al-Fanar Media:
Cairo University Allows Engineering Majors to Graduate in 4 Years Instead of 5
In an academic first in Egypt, Cairo University has adopted new regulations that will allow engineering majors to earn a bachelor’s degree in four years instead of five. University leaders said the new policy was based on the credit-hour system and would allow students to graduate once they have completed their academic requirements, without having to complete a specified number of years. Academics and students have welcomed the new policy, which will go into effect this fall. Read more in this article.
Toronto Metropolitan University–Cairo Puts Hold on Admitting New Students
After putting a hold on admitting new students, Toronto Metropolitan University–Cairo reportedly has offered the 39 students enrolled the opportunity to complete their studies in Toronto, Canada.
In a brief statement, Mohamed Lachemi, president and vice-chancellor of Toronto Metropolitan University in Canada, said university leaders were in Egypt to hear students’ concerns and “determine the best pathways to ensure that they are able to continue and complete their education.” Little other information was available from official sources. Read more in this article.
Interdisciplinary Education: The Best Way to Develop Skills and Promote Equality
The skills required and the jobs available in the labour market today differ greatly from what they were a few years ago, and they are certain to continue changing as the digital revolution and other forces reshape the world. Sandra Baroudi, an assistant professor in the College of Interdisciplinary Studies at Zayed University, argues that universities should design interdisciplinary curricula that allow students to learn and practice the soft skills and mental skills they will need to thrive in this dynamic environment. Read more in this commentary she wrote for Al-Fanar Media.
Al-Fanar Media maintains a database of quality scholarships for Arab students, which we continuously update. You can follow our website to stay up-to-date on 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.
Recent additions to our scholarship database include:
- Chevening Scholarships for Master’s Degree Study in the U.K.
- Scholarships for Space Executive Master Degrees at Luiss Business School Amsterdam