Finance for UAE varsities discussed

Finance for UAE varsities discussed Muaz Shabandri ( / 27 May 2013 An education conference hosted in Dubai brought together leading academia and philanthropic organisations in a bid to discuss new ways to develop financial resources for universities in the UAE. Discussing the need for responsible social contribution in strengthening the higher education sector, the conference was the first-of-its-kind hosted by the University Leadership Council (ULC). ULC is a committee of the UAE-based higher education institutions that seek to facilitate the creation of an intensive knowledge-based economy in the UAE. “We intend to build necessary human resources by combining the best of commerce and industry with academia. The alumni are eminently qualified and employers are more than receptive to have such well-trained individuals close at hand,” said Dr. Nada Mourtada-Sabbah, Vice-Chancellor for Development and Alumni Affairs at the American University of Sharjah, at the event. Her comments came in a welcome address to local and international delegates. The conference was inaugurated by UN Under-Secretary-General and former Minister of Foreign Affairs of France Philippe Douste-Blazy. Addressing policy-makers and heads of institutions, the former minister said: “We have to ask our mind how we can create innovative financing — new sources of money. We can’t continue to have 1.5 billion people without drinking water, sanitation, health, food or education.” He highlighted some of the best practices implemented in Europe and suggested innovative ideas to fight global challenges. Dr. Hisham El-Sherif, Chairman of IT Investments and Professor Emeritus, American University of Cairo in Egypt delivered a keynote address and echoed similar views by calling for the development of a global knowledge fund. “The Arab world today is close to 380 million people. In 2050, this figure will double to around 800 million people. We will need 400 cities of 1 million people each or 1,600 cities with place for a quarter million people in each city,” said Dr Hisham. He advocated an urgent need to set up a knowledge fund supported by industries in the Middle East and help build a central scholarship scheme. Earlier during the conference, Dr. Thomas Hochstettler, Provost and Acting Chancellor of American University of Sharjah said: “Philanthropy in education is of mutual benefit where industry and government support universities in funding their educational projects and at the same time provide a platform to develop new talent for building the regional knowledge economy. Regional universities are establishing endowments, scholarships, chairs and other opportunities for philanthropists to advance their corporate social responsibility initiatives.” The University Leadership Council is an executive committee comprising American University of Sharjah, Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, Zayed University, UAE University, Khalifa University of Science, Technology, and Research. ULC members also include Abu Dhabi University and the education division of Dubai Healthcare City.   Taylor Scott International

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