A new report, Higher Education Reform in the Arab World, underscores the critical role of higher education in the restructuring of Arab economic and political institutions that is currently underway. Authored by AMIDEAST Vice President Katherine Wilkens, the 11-page monograph links “the long term success or failure of today’s reform initiatives” to the ability of countries in the region “to place higher education where it belongs—as the engine of social and economic progress.”
The report summarizes the findings of a working group on Higher Education Reform in the Arab World, convened last April at Brookings’ 2011 U.S.-Islamic World Forum in Washington, DC, under the direction of Ms. Wilkens and Dr. Safwan Masri, director of Columbia University’s Middle East Research Center and a professor at Columbia’s Graduate School of Business. During the two-day forum, the 20-member working group of educators, specialists, and public sector officials from the United States and the Middle East reviewed the current state of higher education in the Arab world and considered the key challenges facing this critical sector of society. Their discussions addressed the need for improvements in the quality, delivery, and management of higher education, with emphasis on the linkages between higher education and job creation.
The report makes 10 recommendations for action by educational institutions, governments, and the private sector to advance reform in higher education the Arab world. A follow-up meeting is planned in the region, where further steps for action and engagement will be considered.