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October 18, 2012 Special IIE.Interactive
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The Gulf Times, Qatar’s largest-circulation English language newspaper, published an Op-Ed piece by Dr. Allan E. Goodman, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Institute of International Education, and Dr. Neal King, President of the International Association of University Presidents, and President of Sofia University in Palo Alto, California, on the occasion of the 3rd annual WISE Program for Educational Leadership held in Qatar last week to train recently appointed university presidents from developing countries. 

This leadership seminar is a direct outgrowth of the World Education Summit for Education (WISE) that the Qatar Foundation convenes each year in Doha. As WISE partners that serve as organizers for the leadership program, IAUP and IIE collaborate intensively to bring together experienced trainers and university leaders from all over the world to provide experience-based training through case studies, workshops, and role-playing exercises.

The authors call on the international donor community to follow the Qatar Foundation’s lead and make this kind of much-needed strategic investment in higher education. According to Dr. Goodman and Dr. King, "The world’s colleges and universities play a central role in developing future leaders, supplying a trained workforce, empowering women, and preserving academic freedom. Higher education is key to equipping countries that face post-conflict and other major transitions for the enormous tasks of rebuilding and creating new governments and institutions.

Read the full Op-Ed essay below or online here: Gulf Times, October 14, 2012, "Follow the Qatar Foundation’s Lead". 

Follow the Qatar Foundation’s lead

By Neal King and Allan E Goodman/Washington

The Qatar Foundation has just convened its third annual WISE Programme for Education Leadership in Education City for recently appointed university presidents from developing countries. The universities represented on the programme enroll over half a million students.

The international donor community tends to focus on primary and secondary education, and too often the critical role of higher education is overlooked. The WISE programme presents a much-needed opportunity to focus on the role of the university in society. It clearly illustrates that we must invest in higher education, today more than ever before.

The world’s colleges and universities play a central role in developing future leaders, supplying a trained workforce, empowering women, and preserving academic freedom. Higher education is key to equipping countries that face post-conflict and other major transitions for the enormous tasks of rebuilding and creating new governments and institutions.

Higher education is also challenged today to meet workforce shortfalls in fields such as engineering, finance, and information technology that are essential to fueling countries’ economic growth.

Today’s students are the future peacemakers and business leaders of our world, and universities have an essential role in ensuring their development into conscientious citizens and problem solvers. The kind of intensive training and networking program that the Qatar Foundation provides will prepare the university leaders — Presidents, Rectors, and Vice Chancellors — to take on today’s most pressing challenges in developing human capital.

The WISE programme not only teaches participants that the challenges they face are shared around the world, but also helps them to join forces to face them. For example, this year’s group includes two leaders from women’s universities, Vasudha Kamat from S N D T Women’s University in Mumbai, India and Fahima Aziz from the Asian University for Women in Chittagong, Bangladesh. 

Both institutions are committed to women’s empowerment through access to education and will be able to share strategies that can benefit all.

This leadership seminar is a direct outgrowth of the World Education Summit for Education (WISE) that the Qatar Foundation convenes each year in Doha. As WISE partners that serve as organizers for the leadership program, our two organisations -- the International Association of University Presidents (IAUP) and the Institute of International Education (IIE) -- have collaborated intensively to bring together experienced trainers and university leaders from all over the world to provide experience-based training through case studies, workshops, and role-playing exercises.

Today’s headlines – the crisis in Syria, the coup in Mali, the need rebuild higher education in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Myanmar – remind us that universities also play an essential role in saving knowledge when it is threatened. 

Around the world, scholars have long suffered harassment, torture and persecution as a result of their work. Over the past decade, nearly 300 institutions in 40 countries have hosted professors from IIE’s Scholar Rescue Fund, which provides fellowships for threatened academics to find safe haven and continue their work. Many universities have also stepped up to assist students facing emergency needs due to crises or natural disasters in their home countries.

The idea of the university in ancient as well as modern times was, as the Yale historian Jaroslav Pelikan observed, to function "as the primary staging area for peace through international understanding." Pelikan notes that since the Middle Ages, "following almost every international conflict..., postwar planners have looked to cooperation between universities and across national boundaries as a resource for healing the wounds of the past and for helping to prevent war in the future." Such a role is more critical to perform today, perhaps, than ever before.

We believe the Qatar Foundation’s support of the WISE Programme for Education Leadership is a highly strategic investment in our shared future. 

This kind of training will play a pivotal role in the future of academic collaboration, global innovation, the development of human capital, and world peace and stability. We urge the international donor community to follow the Qatar Foundation’s lead in investing in resources for who leads higher education and how.

Dr Allan E Goodman is president and chief executive Officer of the Institute of International Education (IIE). Dr Neal King is the president of the International Association of University Presidents, and president of Sofia University in Palo Alto, CA, USA.
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