In fall of 2013, a delegation representing the UT Global Initiative for Education and Leadership (UTGI) embarked on an educational outreach trip to the Middle East. They attended conferences and met with education professionals in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Kuwait, and Qatar.
The delegation attended the NAJAH Education & Training Exhibition in Abu Dhabi, UAE. NAJAH (“success” in Arabic) is a government-sponsored educational event aimed at informing local students of their higher education options. This year, The University of Texas at Austin was one of only twenty American institutions to attend. The delegation also attended fairs in Doha, Dubai, and Kuwait City.
The delegation met with key higher education professionals and staffed a booth in the EducationUSA pavilion to meet with prospective students. The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs funds EducationUSA, a network of advising centers in 170 countries that assist in facilitating the admission and enrollment of international students in the United States.
Following NAJAH, the delegation attended the inaugural Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Higher Education Leadership Forum (HELF) in Dubai, sponsored by His Highness Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan. The Center of Learning Innovations and Customized Knowledge Solutions (CLICKS) organized the forum in partnership with the Association of Arab Universities and the International Council for Open and Distance Education (ICDE).
The delegation hosted a workshop on strategic planning and met with international higher education professionals. Senior Associate Dean Richard Flores, head of the delegation to the conference, co-chaired a meeting along with the UAE’s Director of the Commission for Academic Accreditation. Attendance at this closed meeting was limited, and included the Secretary of the ICDE and the former Deputy Chair of Joint Information Systems Committee in the UK, a government organization aiming to increase the integration of information and communications technology in the sphere of higher education. Presidents and vice chancellors of universities and representatives from ministries of higher education and similar bodies were also included in the discussion, which centered on strategies for advancing higher education in the region.
UTGI is pleased to report that this meeting led to an official partnership with CLICKS, an opportunity of great promise for UTGI in the MENA region. The UAE dedicates approximately 25% of their federal budget towards education and boasts a 90% literacy rate with 70% of their college graduates being women. UTGI and CLICKS will collaborate in offering workshops, seminars, and other events to support higher education in the region.