The Future of Universities in the Arab Region: A Review

  • John R. HillmanEmail author
  • Elias Baydoun


In the modern era, progress in societal development and economic growth is dependent to a large extent on the quality and impact of the university sector. This chapter provides an overview of the origins and roles of universities and the main issues and opportunities they face in the Arab Region, together with constructive suggestions for improvement. With the focus on education, science, and research, the relationships of universities to their societies and their governments are examined, considering university organisation and economic roles as well as the phenomenon of degree devaluation. International university rankings are reshaping university operations, raising questions about the standards of governance and administrative competence in addition to the nature of taught courses and their quality and value for money. Staff recruitment, retention, gender equity, and citation metrics demand special attention, as does the profound reshaping of education by online coursework for teaching, training, and research in an era of a new generation of computer-savvy young people and the need for lifelong learning for all age groups, thus extending the open-university concept. Website upgrading is essential for transparency and a key marketing issue for improving competitive positioning. Common features of successful universities are described. University-linked science parks and incubator facilities are having far-reaching effects on national economies elsewhere in the world and are beginning to be significant attributes of some Arab universities. Audits of intellectual property and competencies are needed. In the final section of the chapter, the potential of Arab universities to drive the transition to a knowledge-based thriving economy is described, addressing specific issues of governance, staffing and its associated career development, access to resources, participation in learned societies, and combatting corruption. Institutions claiming university status must address several specific issues. Priorities should be set at institutional, national, and regional levels involving governments, universities, and businesses so as to optimise the disbursement of precious resources. This could involve the possible establishment of regional specialist facilities. Research opportunities are outlined, noting the importance in the Region of insecure water, food, and energy supplies. The pivotal issues of relevance and independently conducted quality-assurance measures are examined, as is the need to track graduate and postgraduate careers. Recommendations made in this chapter have wider applicability to universities and advanced research institutes around the world.


Arab universities Governance and management Teaching and research Science parks University rankings Online courses Quality assurance Accreditation STEM subjects Relevance 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.James Hutton InstituteDundeeUK
  2. 2.Department of BiologyAmerican University of BeirutBeirutLebanon

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