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Many thanks to one of my followers for bringing today’s article on the recent arrests of Dr bin Ghaith and four others to my attention:

Five Emiratis arrested for threatening UAE security

Needless to say, I won’t be commenting on this from a political standpoint, but I will point out that I’m somewhat relieved to have seen it in the newspapers.  It took a little time to get there, but at least it happened.

References:

National Staff. (26 April 2011). Five Emiratis arrested for threatening UAE security. The National. Retrieved (26 April 2011) from http://www.thenational.ae/news/uae-news/five-emiratis-arrested-for-threatening-uae-security

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ExpatAcademic has been away…

Apologies to my readers and subscribers for the long hiatus.  I will be discussing the recent detention of a Sorbonne University academic as well as an update on the UAEU plagiarism issue in the near future.

Stay tuned,

EA

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For a good paper, call this number:

050 787 4207

For those of you ringing outside of the UAE, dial 00 +971 50 787 4207.  But before you do so, read to the end of this post.

Yesterday morning’s cruising of the education news and job posts supplied me with a refreshing break from the usual why-our-branch-university-failed reports.  THIS is what I came up with:


(I’ve learned my lesson about taking screen shots, as you can see.)

Right, so here we have an advertisement for essay-writing services who is enough of a shameless mercenary to supply his/her contact information to the world, as opposed to hiding behind an anonymous essay mill website.  And  I certainly wouldn’t be surprised if Joe Essay Writer is making a bit of jingle here in a land where the money-to-brains ratio can be scarily high.

Although I don’t need a paper written, I have undertaken to respond to Joe’s Dubizzle advert and encourage you to do the same.  Feel free to let me know how it goes.

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Where do people go for information?

I’m constantly befuddled by the fact that there are so many universities here (nearly all of them ‘world class’) yet so little information circulating among the academic crowd.

Today, after weeks of low activity on the Chronicle’s Academics in the Middle East subforum, I finally saw a question posted by a potential newcomer to the UAE.  What I feel like saying in response is something along the lines of “good luck getting an answer to your query,” but I probably won’t respond at all.  The one alternative to the underutilised Chronicle forum is Dave’s ESL Café, which seems unfortunately discouraging to most newcomers and in any case is focussed on the Teaching-English-as-a-Second-Language scene, not academia per se.  There’s the AbuDhabiWoman discussion board, but it’s populated more with people wondering where to find an OB/Gyn or going to battle over questions of faith than it is with those interested in the tertiary education employment scene.

So where in the world do people go when they have questions (and judging by my stats, there are TONS of questions, mostly about compensation packages and working conditions) about academic careers in the UAE?  Where do they go when they want to discuss the issues of grading, academic dishonesty, student performance, educational standards, etc?  Where do they do their networking?

Thoughts welcome.

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I don’t really have anything new to report this week, as NYU Abu Dhabi hasn’t sent out another press release yet — unless you count the recent tidbit on the ‘leaning tower of Abu Dhabi’ posted on the Salaam blog.  As someone who has to drive past this architectural abomination on a pretty regular basis, it’s the last thing I want to read about, but if NYU and the rest of the UAE want to go on comparing it to the campanile at Pisa, they can go right ahead.  See for yourself:

Architectural Abomination

Architectural Beauty

Back to today’s post…

I had a quick look at the search terms that have pointed folks towards this blog over the past few months, and thought I would post them for all to see:

kustar salary 8
uaeu and chronicle 8
“chronicle of higher education” 6
hct sucks 5
nyu abu dhabi 4
hume, uae, chronicle 4
academics in the desert 4
uaeu “hume” 4
khalifa university salaries 3
kustar 3
http://www.thenational.ae/apps/pbcs.dll/ 3
chronicle uaeu hume 3
salary zayed 17000 3
al hosn university chronicle 3
msu dubai 3
kustar allowance 3
abu dhabi nyu 2
“khalifa university” “per child” 2
“khalifa university” “allowance” 2
job cuts uae university 2
the national american university of rak 2
hct salaries 2
khalifa university salary 2
hume uaeu 2
daves esl cafe zayed university 2
eslcafe + khalifa university + 40000 aed 2
dave’s esl cafe alhosn university 2
“money proves elusive” hume 2
dave’s esl cafe hct 2010 2
tod laursen salary khalifa university 2
academics in teh desert 2
housing zayed university 2
laursen khalifa 2
salary package and uaeu 2010 2
msu dubai cancels class 2
nyuad 2
teaching vacancies iat uae 1
uaeu firing faculty 1
iat hct salary compare 1
the hidden gender gap in education in th 1
khda report 2010 of apple international 1
pay freeze uae universities 1
chronicle.com/article/money-proves-elusi 1
american university of sharjah faculty s 1
dave esl cafe forum khalifa university u 1
salary “khalifa university” 1
“abu dhabi university” ” per child” 1
aed job salary professor “zayed universi 1
kustar daves esl 1
uaeu hume chroncile of higher education 1

This isn’t really that interesting, but I thought I’d run a few numbers and see what is leading readers here — partly out of desperation for something to write about, and partly because this sort of information helps me decide what to write about more.  And the winner is…

Anything related to compensation.  35% of the time, search strings related to compensation (salaries and/or allowances).

The runner up appears to be a near tie between anything related to KUSTAR (32% of searches) and anything related to UAEU (30% of searches).  Note:  these include compensation-related queries, so don’t expect the numbers to add to 100%.

Third place is shared by Zayed University and NYUAD (each included in 8% of searches).

So what does this tell me?

In some ways, not that much — this blog is way below the radar with respect to established universities and places that have been all over the news, so I won’t show up on a search for anything related to NYU Abu Dhabi until several Google pages down from the top. Run a search on less written-up institutions, like the relatively new Khalifa University, and I’m more likely to be in the forefront.

But one interesting find is that many people appear to be searching for salary information.  What does this tell us?  One, the higher education (and non-TESL-related) market here is young enough that information on compensation is scarce.  Two, job candidates are really concerned about money — and not very concerned, it would seem, about, things like student attitudes/performance, grading pressure, or general academic culture.

While I don’t want this to morph into a blog specifically about compensation, I am interested in catering to the market, so if you’d like to (anonymously) contribute any information on your salary and benefit packages, I’m very happy to post it.

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ExpatAcademic is away…

but more news and commentary coming soon, so stay tuned.

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Update:  15 July 2010
The link to the British Council .ppt document appears to no longer be valid.  You can view the document here:  Research in the UAE (Morgan, n.d.).  Sorry BC folks, but if you don’t want your presentations up on the web, I suggest not putting them here.

How I stumbled upon this presentation from the British Council on UK opportunities in the UAE, I’ll never know.  But do have a look before it disappears from the ether altogether.  And no, you won’t find it on the Education UK Partnership unless you’re a member.

What interests me most about this piece is the complete lack of support and interpretation of the statistics.  Numbers are thrown at us with absolutely no context.  Sure, they might have been mentioned orally, but they’re certainly not in the version that now lingers on the internet.  Here are a few examples.

According to the presentation (Morgan, n.d.), the UAE ranked as follows in the 2009 Global Competitiveness Index:

  • Tertiary enrolments:  79th
  • Quality of scientific research institutions:  74th
  • University-industry research collaboration:  58th
  • Availability of scientists and engineers:  75th
  • USA patents:  88th
  • Company spending on R&D:  50th
  • Gov’t procurement of advanced technology products:  11th
  • Overall innovation:  46th

Of course, these numbers don’t mean much unless one looks at the context — it’s rather like saying that the UAE’s tertiary enrolment ranks “apple” (a term you’ll see  me use often to describe any discussion of numbers without an accompanying scale).  According to the 2008-09 Global Competitiveness Report, however,  the list is 134 countries long, so 75th is comfortably in the lower half  — a fact that we are unable to glean from Morgan’s table.  Even more interesting is what ’75th’ means given the fact that the GCR includes the UAE in its list of 37 most-developed (Stage 3) countries.  So in a sense we can look at those numbers not relative to the list of all countries, but in the context of the Stage 3 list.  The result is that the UAE is squarely at the bottom of its class.

Here are the updated numbers from the GCR of 2009-2010, which now ranks out of 133 economies (Moldova was excluded):

  • Tertiary enrolments:  81st
  • Quality of scientific research institutions:  53th
  • University-industry research collaboration:  39th
  • Availability of scientists and engineers:  28th
  • Utility* patents:  38th
  • Company spending on R&D:  30th
  • Gov’t procurement of advanced technology products:  2th
  • Overall innovation:  27th

Beyond looking at the context, we need to examine the relationship among these indices and how they change from year to year.  For example, from 2008-09 to 2009-10, tertiary enrolment rankings declined slightly, but other education rankings seem to have improved substantially.  This stability of higher education enrolment, coupled with a significant increase in the availability of scientists and engineers makes me wonder exactly what’s going on, particularly with respect to the oft-heard catchphrase ‘building the knowledge economy’:  Where are these scientists and engineers coming from when tertiary enrolment remains stable?  Why are there so many more scientists and engineers than in the previous year (or has the number of scientists and engineers remained stable in the UAE and simply declined in other countries)?  It certainly doesn’t make sense, time-wise, that they’re coming from those improved scientific research institutions.  Wherever they may be coming from, however, the numbers by themselves, without reference to either context or comparison, are meaningless.

Another ‘AppleStat’ occurs when Morgan presents the 2008 ranking of United Arab Emirates University, arguably the top tertiary institution in the UAE, as “between 400th and 500th in the THE-QS world rankings” (Morgan, n.d.) without bothering to tell us the total number of universities that were ranked.  That number appears to be somewhere between 500 and 600, by the way (which means that at best, UAEU is in the bottom 30-odd percent and at worst, pretty much at bottom of the list) Again, more interesting than the simple statement is the context:  UAEU wasn’t even on the list of THE QS in 2006 or 2007 and no other UAE institution is on the list at all.  (For the record, subsequent to Morgan’s presentation, UAEU’s ranking climbed to 374 in 2009).

Finally, a shocking statistic:  according to Morgan, one of the obstacles to building research capacity here in the UAE is that “only 20% of Emirati men graduate high school.”  Everything I’ve read in random newspaper articles is consistent with this statement, but where did this number actually come from?  Thirty minutes of advanced Googling hasn’t pointed me to anything that I can reliably cite to back this number up, yet the British Council throws it out to us.  Compare this August, 2009 policy brief from the Dubai School of Government (and by all means, do have a look at the statistics).

To be fair, Morgan’s presentation investigates the opportunities available here in the UAE to UK universities.  And he does a good job of giving us an overview of a number of local HEIs.  But to the extent he tosses out numbers without context, analysis, or citations, his readers either remain at a loss or have to do the work themselves.  That work took me about two hours.

References:

Morgan, B. (n.d.).  Research in the UAE:  An opportunity for UK universities? The British Council.  Retrieved (5 May 2010) from http://www.britishcouncil.org/research_in_the_uae.ppt

Ridge, N. (2009).  The hidden gender gap in education in the UAE.  Dubai School of Government Policy Brief No. 12. Retrieved (5 May 2010) from http://www.dsg.ae/LinkClick.aspx?link=Policy+Brief+12+Ridge+English.pdf&tabid=308&mid=826

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