On the Meloncholy of the Arab University

11 May, 2017

The Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies has published the book Universities and Academic Research in the Arab World. The book discusses the role that the university can play in Arab countries if it is afforded opportunities to produce and distribute academic knowledge and technologies. The book also explores the potential for national economic growth through academic competition in local and international markets, using research papers presented by a group of Arab researchers at the fourth annual ACRPS conference on social sciences and humanities in Marrakesh, on the 19-21 March 2015.

This book is divided into six sections. The first section, Academic Realities and Challenges in Arab Universities, includes three chapters. In the first chapter, Wael Benjelloun presents the problem of university independence, which he considers a prerequisite for ensuring university productivity and quality. In the second chapter, Azeddine Bouchikhi defended the necessity of promoting academic research in Arab university institutions using lessons learned from leading international experiences in the field. In the third chapter, Sa'id Yaqtin, taking a methodological approach, examines the reality of higher education and academic research and its prospects in the Arab world by investigating the Arabic language and literature department at the Faculty of Arts at Mohammed V University in Rabat.

The second section, The University and the Transition to Knowledge Societies and Economies, includes three chapters. In the fourth chapter, Dr. Saeed Siddiqi addresses Arab university rankings in international university league tables, and examines the state of the Arab universities according the standards adopted in the international academic university rankings. In the fifth chapter, researchers Hanan Abdel Hamid and Huda Al-Yami highlight the importance of interdisciplinary research in the research community, especially in the advent of a second wave of knowledge production. In the fifth chapter, Ibrahim Karthio examines the institutional digital repository model based on a comprehensive survey of the institutional repositories of universities in the Arab region, available on the Internet.

The third section tackles questions around social sciences and humanities in Arab universities. In the seventh chapter, Aisha Al-Tayeb discusses research and academic publishing in the humanities and social sciences in Arab universities. In the eighth chapter, Adnan Al-Ameen analyzes articles and master's and doctoral dissertations published on the Arab educational network website "Shamaa", finding that research on the educational sector avoids politically sensitive issues. In the ninth chapter, Ibrahim Farid Mahajna conveys the experience of the Arab researcher's imprisonment in occupied Palestine, where the researcher is not free to choose an inductive or deductive methodology.

The fourth section, The University in the Arab World and its Socio-Economic Roles, consists of a further three chapters. In chapter 10, Shirin Abu Al Naja questions the role of an intellectual in the university. She attempts to answer this issue and determines that the role of the intellectual is in crisis because of the controversial intersection between politics and knowledge. In chapter 11, Syrian researcher Amer Mahdi Doko analyzes the relationship between education and democracy, and finds that there is no correlation between attaining higher levels of education and preference for democratic systems of government in the Arab world. In Chapter 12, researcher Khader Abbas Radwan raises the lack of competition between Iraqi universities.

The fifth section, Academic Freedom and University Independence in the Arab World, includes three more chapters. In chapter 13, Ahmed Krum attempts to criticize - and to propose at the same time - a number of disciplines and standards that can be the foundation of academic freedoms in Moroccan universities, as well as Arab universities in general. In Chapter 14, Driss Lagrini argues that any reformist political process can only be successful if it induces the outputs of education, academic research and securing academic freedom. In Chapter 15, Mohsen Abdul Jalil examines the question of academic freedom and University independence at the University of Khartoum, under weak political governance.

The sixth section, in the transformations of the Tunisian University, includes the last three chapters of the book. In Chapter 16, researcher Salem Labiadh discusses the issue professionalism in the Tunisian university. In Chapter 17, Jamal Trabulsi builds a quantitative economic study to document the causal relationship between education and economic growth. Lotfi Hajlaoui concludes the book by discussing the quality and prospects of the Tunisian University, drawing upon the quantitative and qualitative indicators provided by national and international reports.

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