Strategic Planning in Higher Education in the Arab World: Toward an Effective Implementation to Overcome Challenges

Strategic Planning in Higher Education in the Arab World: Toward an Effective Implementation to Overcome Challenges

Bashaer Mohamed Al-Kilani (Alef Education, UAE)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-8048-5.ch013
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This chapter aims to deliberate the strategic planning in higher education as a critical factor in the success of transforming the quality of higher education in the Arab world. With Arab universities still lagging behind in the world's top 200 universities, according to both Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) and Times Higher Education (THE) world university rankings for the year 2018, it is momentous to investigate the causes and tackle the issues prompting Arab universities to not fulfill their role as hubs that transform nations. The chapter starts off by reviewing the status quo of higher education in the Arab world and Arab nations' aspirations for the higher education sector; it then proceeds to review research on the critical role of strategic planning in the higher education sector around the world and the obstacles hindering its effective implementation. The chapter then addresses the gap between the current strategic planning practices in higher education institutions in the Arab world and the effective practices that should be adopted to overcome the challenges confronting this sector.
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The Role of Institutions of Higher Education in the Arab World

Universities play an essential role in promoting socio-economic growth: they generate the knowledge, innovation, and human capital required to increase competitiveness in a knowledge-based economy (World Bank 2012). According to the Arab Human Development Report, Arab youth numbers are equivalent to one third of Arab countries’ population; the report discusses that the young demographic, provided its size and inherent energy in working and being effectual, is a potential productive work force.

The report adds that the opportunity presented by this demographic to promote development will gradually disappear and may not recur in the Arab region if the proper investment is not provided (2016). Higher education has a monumental impact on the regional and national restructuring of politics and the economy, which are currently under way, in the Arab world. “The long-term success or failure of today’s reform initiatives will rest, to a large degree, on the ability of these societies to place higher education as the engine of social and economic progress” (Wilkens 2011); higher education institutions have a key role in the scientific, technological, cultural and social advancement of nations (Awwad 2013; ElObeidy 2014).

Universities in the Arab world need to rectify their mission to surpass their role as knowledge disseminators and academic research providers; this entails fast adaption to the ever-evolving economies and the disruptive innovations to meet the demands of political and economic contexts on local and global levels. In order to meet the expectations of Arab nations, higher education institutions in the Arab world need to adopt strategic planning not only to front crises but also to use as a roadmap to sustain a perpetual impact on the future of rising generations.

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