Volume 2016, Issue 1
  • E-ISSN: 1703-1958


Scientific research is facing a critical situation in Arab nations. While international rankings have become the first priority of universities engaged in research across the world, most universities undertaking scientific research in the Arab region are occupied with other matters more vital to their survival. Given the current crisis in some universities in the Arab region, this study seeks to understand the factors responsible for the falling standards in scientific research and the lack of global recognition of these universities. Through interviews with university rectors or their designates along with three international experts on higher education policy, this investigation considers the social, economic, and political factors responsible for the crisis in some Arab universities that undertake scientific research. The investigation also probes the effect that political instability has on the Arab universities, particularly in light of the “Arab Spring” and how top administrators propose to improve research capabilities in their institutions. Thematic analysis of the interviews suggests lack of research infrastructure, funding and resources, and English publications, in addition to unmotivated faculty, as primary causes for the dilemma of Arab universities. The findings also indicate that in countries that are mired in political crises, lack of security is preventing higher education institutions from functioning and preserving their role in society as institutions of intellectual rigor and research. Although these Arab universities cannot control the political destiny of the country, international experts who were interviewed emphasized the importance of building a research infrastructure and an environment that motivates researchers. Furthermore, using English as the language of research and the emphasis of basic science are crucial elements to developing a sound research university.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): Arab universities , funding , global rankings , scientific research , security and socioeconomic issues
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