U.S. News & World Report, a leading United States-based provider of information analysis, has created a comprehensive directory of more than 800 universities across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) as an initial step toward a broad survey and ranking report on MENA institutions of higher education.
U.S. News editors unveiled a test version of the proposed directory before a group of top regional academic officials at the World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE) in Doha today. The Arab Region University Directory, which will launch on usnews.com later in November, brings together publicly available data on a wide array of MENA universities from all Arab countries. A fully web-enabled, searchable product will debut in early 2014.
The data set is the beginning of a long-term project to develop a series of surveys and rankings for the MENA region, which will allow a much deeper regional comparison of the various types of institutions than information which currently appears in other global rankings. Until now, those rankings have typically included few MENA higher educational institutions. Additionally MENA schools have not historically been classified for comparative purposes in the same way as universities in many other regions.
“We want to bring to the Arab and MENA university community the same depth of study that has become so important to parents, students and policymakers in the United States,” said Brian Kelly, editor and chief content officer of U.S. News. “There is a need for both a global and a regional look at these important institutions.”
The effort is part of an expanding global outreach by the Washington-based media company, which for many years has been the leading source of rankings in the areas of education, healthcare, and other products, and has found a growing international interest in its content.
The project was initiated with the encouragement of Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, Chairperson of the Qatar Foundation. Kelly notes: “Qatar Foundation is a leading source of global education innovation. Sheikha Moza asked me whether we could bring the work we do in the U.S. to the region as a way of creating global consistency and adding substantial value to higher education in the MENA region.” The Qatar Foundation is assisting in the research effort with a grant.
The University Directory will assist people in the MENA region by creating a greater depth of understanding about the many universities located across the region. Through rigorous and objective research, the U.S. News researchers will create standardized and transparent information that can be used to improve education throughout the region.
The project is led by Robert Morse, who has managed U.S. News educational research for more than two decades. “We look forward to collaborating with higher education institutions in the region” said Morse. “In the 30 years we’ve been doing this, our goal is always to make the most fair and accurate comparisons.”
Morse and U.S. News have played a significant role in the development of standardized data for U.S. higher education. “U.S. News will work with stakeholders in the MENA region to encourage similar standardization that would reflect the educational characteristics of MENA’s colleges and universities,” said Morse. He added: “A comprehensive data set will enable students, parents, policymakers, employers and academics to compare institutions in ways not currently available.”