Current State of Higher Education in America

Documenting change, challenges and an undeniable opportunity.

American University of SharjahEducation plays an ever-important role in Middle Eastern society, writes the chancellor of the American University of Sharjah.

The Middle East represents a diverse geographic spread of 18 countries, each with their own economies, political frameworks and social needs. However, collectively, underlying trends in higher education across the whole region point to one clear reality: Thanks to a population heavily skewed towards youth and a growing middle-class affluence in many of the markets, the higher education sector in the Middle East is now a viable target for many international institutions’ global expansion plans.

Culturally, a higher education is highly prized in the Middle East and today, the educational sector plays an even more-important role in society than ever before. With shifting demographics, political challenges and economic diversification, a move away from pedagogical learning methods to more interactive teaching styles and access to higher education are now high governmental priorities across many nations.

[SPECIAL REPORT: College of Tomorrow]

Current expenditure on this sector, according to a recent study published by Al Masah Capital Limited, has reached an average of 3.8 percent of the gross domestic product in Middle East and North African (MENA) countries – higher than that of many developed nations – and this figure is expected to continue to increase. Enrollment rates in higher education are considered to be on par with global figures, with current MENA rates of 31 compared to a world average rate of 30. A high number of MENA countries – including the United Arab Emirates, Palestine, Libya, Tunisia and Kuwait – are now reporting higher enrollment rates for women than for men, Forbes Woman Middle East recently reported. This growth in the education sector will lead to an increasing number of schools and universities in the Gulf Cooperation Council, which are expected to rise from around 49, 500 institutions in 2010 to more than 55, 000 in 2020, according to a report issued by investment banking firm Alpen Capital.

Ongoing political developments in the region are also having a tangible impact on the education sector. Interestingly, and possibly counterintuitively, political tensions are seen as one of the drivers behind the rise in female enrollment. There is a trend for men to bypass higher education for public sector or military employment, but it is also clear that a number of governments, particularly those in the Gulf Cooperation Council area, are heavily promoting higher education to female citizens.

[READ: E-Learning Engages Women at Saudi University]

Social shifts and changing economic marketplace requirements are also driving the increased interest in higher education. Today, according to the World Bank, “the key to prosperity is a well-educated, technically skilled workforce producing high-value-added, knowledge-intensive goods and services.” The rise of globalization and knowledge economies, and the MENA nations’ efforts to transform their economic frameworks accordingly, are fueling a more competitive employment environment that is requiring ever more specialized skill-sets, in addition to fundamental education.

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Who is current secretary of state of America?

It is Hillary Rodham Clinton on this date of 01/08/11.

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