World Congress for Middle Eastern Studies

Barcelona, July 19th - 24th 2010


GLOBALIZATION OF HIGHER EDUCATION IN THE ARAB WORLD - 2/2: Challenges and Chances (469) - NOT_DEFINED activity_field_Panel

· NOT_DEFINED date: FRI 23, 2.30-4.30 pm

· NOT_DEFINED institution: CERAW - Institute of Geography - University of Mainz & SSRC - New York

· NOT_DEFINED organizer: Ala Al-Hamarneh & Seteney Shami

· NOT_DEFINED sponsor: SSRC-New York (USA) and CERAW-Mainz (Germany)

· NOT_DEFINED language: English

· NOT_DEFINED description: The economic liberalization of social services (education, health care, pensions) in the majority of the Arab countries has been progressing along three tracks; privatization, internationalization and strengthening of state supervision. The policies match the general global stance of opening local markets for international trade and direct investments (GATS, WTO) and cutting public expenditures, both of which are embedded in the discourse of neo-liberal globalization. The exceptional regional element in comparison with global trends is that the economic liberalization is not accompanied by political liberalization, de-centralization and deregulation. On the contrary, the first steps towards political liberalization that were taken in the 90s have been dismissed to a great degree in the name of security and stability. Education has remained one of the most state-controlled fields in the Arab World. Nevertheless, the higher educational sector has been partially economically liberalized to meet the demographic pressure, the technological demands, the financial constrains and the economic diversification strategies. The conflict between free market policies and state control has been to a great extent resolved by implementing special plans of liberalization of individual sectors and innovative models of cooperation between the state, private investors and international partners. A free economic zone of higher education (Dubai), state owned branches of international universities (Qatar, Abu Dhabi), restricted internationalization (Jordan, Tunisia, Syria) and locally registered joint-ventures (Egypt) demonstrate the richness of the modes of global cooperation and economic liberalization in the region.The process of globalization of higher education in the Arab world has provoked the questioning of numerous ?side effects? tendencies and dilemmas; the boom of the English language as an instruction language; the gender (de)segregation in private and internationalized colleges; the weakening of national identity building in international colleges; the commercialization of higher education; the strategies and aims of export of higher education by developed countries, etc. The panel aims, on the one hand, to explore the ongoing processes of globalization in the higher education sectors in the Arab countries in terms of models, modes and mechanisms of internationalization and global cooperation. On the other hand, the panel addresses various social impacts of the existing models and forms on the students, universities, development and economic strategies and societies in large. Please send per email an abstract of 300 words including name, affiliation and title no later than the 30th of November 2009 to Dr. Ala Al-Hamarneh at: panel includes 7 papers in two sessions: The first session deals with the general framing of the globalization of higher education, the privatization processes and the political backgrounds of various reform strategies. The second session deals with case studies from Qatar, Oman, Jordan and Egypt that aim to demonstrate the differences and similarities of the impacts of globalization of higher education in national contexts.

Chair: Gunter Meyer (CERAW - Institute of Geography, University of Mainz, Germany)

Paper discussant: Seteney Shami (SSRC - New York)

Paper presenter: Torsten Brandenburg (University of Mainz, Germany), “Higher education for a new Era? Internationalization and Privatization of Higher Education in the Sultanate of Oman and the State of Qatar”
The process of internationalization and privatization of higher education has been going on since the end of the last century in the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council. Within the context of modernizing the Nation’s innovation framework, the Sultanate of Oman and the State of Qatar capture each an exceptional position within the Arab World.
In response of the oncoming end of the oil era, the Government of Oman has launched an aggressive campaign to further enlarge its higher education system in the belief that developing an alternative economy will depend heavily on a highly trained citizenry. In order to meet the growing demand for higher education, the government launched a privatization strategy in 1994/95. Since then, more than two dozens private colleges and universities were established in the country, which modified Oman’s higher education landscape basically.
By contrast, Qatar aims to create a world-class system of higher education to become a regional hub for capacity building and education and, in addition, to build-up a knowledge-based society. Qatar’s mode of cooperation describes a new model of internationalization of higher education: The branch campuses of the predominately renowned American universities (like Weill Cornell Medical College, Georgetown University) at Doha’s Education City are totally sponsored by the state-near Qatar Foundation, but operated and managed independently by the mother institutions.
By using a cybernetic theory approach, the paper aims to outline and compare the different processes of internationalization and privatization of higher education in Qatar and Oman. The major goal of the study is to analyze and typologize the adopted strategies in order to identify the specific characteristics. The paper is based on field research and interviews with local and international experts, decision maker and faculties done in Oman and Qatar in 2008 and 2009. The suggested paper will present the final results of a three year research project in line with the doctoral thesis.

Paper presenter: Daniele Cantini (University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Italy), “Discourses of reforms and questions of citizenship: the university systems of Jordan”
Jordan, as almost all other countries in the broader Middle Eastern region, has witnessed in the last decades an impressive growth in the higher education sector, both in quantitative terms and in terms of an increased differentiation within the university system itself – hence, the systems that should be taken into account, that I refer to in the title of the presentation. Drawing from a fieldwork lasted one year and a half in Amman, between 2003 and 2005, and from subsequent periods of comparative research carried on in Egypt, in this paper I will discuss the importance of the higher education system in Jordan, a small country usually taken as an example of the success of educational policies by the international agencies, and the social and political relevance the system has in its context – what does it mean to be a university student in Jordan, what are the perspectives of the educated youth, and how this condition relates to the local social and power structure? I will then go into the details of the university systems in the country, describing the differences between the public, the private – and the overlapping areas of this unsatisfactory dichotomy – other than exploring the recent institutions, more business oriented, created both by the government and by private investors, nationals and foreigners alike. What do these differences stand for, and how they reflect on the broader society as a whole? Can this change be labelled as a neo-colonisation in the educational market? And are these systems designed at enhancing the population, or rather at controlling it by diversifying the curricula according to the social class of origin?
The aim of the discussion is to show, with an in-depth ethnographic analysis, how this system works, how it shapes and rebuilds the educated part of the population, and what the differences within the systems mean in the broader political and social context.

Paper presenter: Yasmine Moataz (American University in Cairo, Egypt), “The International Experience: a Discourse Analysis of Egypt’s Emergent Private Higher Education”
Starting the mid-1970, Egypt underwent a reorientation toward a liberal market economy that conforms to neo-liberal percepts. The open-door policies, known as Infitah, represented the forte of this orientation, which intensified with the 1990’s structural adjustment policies (Amin, 2001; De Koning, 2005). As a result, there has been a concentration of wealth and power in the hands of fewer elites and an on-going process of privatization of all basic sectors, including: health and education. In parallel, a reorganization of an urban culture has evolved. A tour around Cairo’s suburbs reveals the rising of five-star colossal buildings, extravagant hotels in new business districts, an emerging suburban culture manifest in gated cities and an ever growing number of international private schools and universities.
This paper aims to explore the current trends of international higher educational institutions in Egypt. While Egypt hosted bi-lingual schools since the colonial periods, this paper demonstrates that the emergent private international universities (German, French, Canadian) bring a new educational taste and forms of “international-based” distinction to the Egyptian upper- and upper-middle classes. The “international experience” is regarded as a valorized capital-in Bourdieu’s terms- in the Egyptian labor market; graduate of international schools and universities, and later university occupy the best positions employed in positions in multi-national companies, international organizations and private schools regardless of their specialization or training in a certain discipline. The possession of a language amongst a whole package of international education is an indispensable asset for job seekers in the primary sector of today’s Egyptian labor market. Furthermore, international schools and universities are significant markers of class position in today's Egypt.
Based on analyzing the advertisements and websites of international universities in Egypt, and on in-depth interviews with teachers, parents and students who are part of Egypt's international higher educational scene, this paper explores three major aspects that characterize this emerging scene: 1) neoliberal logic embedded in the universities' portrayals (e.g. individual choice, market logic, achievement); 2) urban reconfiguration as manifested in the location of schools in (secure/clean) suburban periphery versus (unsafe/dirty)urban centers of traditional public universities; and 3) the construction of an "international, yet Egypt, citizen" through undergoing global and local processes. This paper aims to contribute to debates of class formation in developing post-colonial countries, using Egypt as a case study.

Paper presenter: Nabiha Jerad (University of Tunis), “The LMD Reform in Tunisia”
Based on a survey among the Faculty and the students of the University of Tunis about the LMD system that has been implemented during the last 3 years in Tunisia, this paper will discuss the outcomes of the feedback on this LMD from the point of view of students and Faculty.
It will focus on:
1- The challenges that were faced during the implementation of the LMD system in the Framework of the Tunisian Higher educational system.
2- The good new pedagogical practices that were introduced within this Reform.
3- The signification of the LMD’s concepts and rationale in the case of Tunisia.