Culture and education

German Education an Export Hit in the Arab World

While Germans continue to bemoan their educational system, German higher education is being successfully exported to the Arab world. “The standards of German education are very high,” said Edmond Gebara, chancellor of Wadi German Syrian University, who himself studied in Germany. “And this gives students the opportunity to such an education without having to go abroad.” Wadi German Syrian University is the third German-style university in three years to have set up shop in the Arab world, with a fourth one in the planning stages.
The first collaboration, the German University Cairo, opened in 2003 in cooperation with the University of Ulm and the University of Stuttgart. It offers internationally-recognized degrees in the sciences and in business to the 3,000 students that study there.
This past fall, the German Jordanian University opened its doors to 100 students housed in a temporary location until its facilities can be finished. Officials say they plan to offer 5,000 students from the region a chance to study the humanities, sciences or business in their 5-year programs. The university is supported by the German government and partners with the Magdeburg-Stendal College of the Applied Sciences. Wadi officials looked at institutions both in France and in the US before deciding that a German one -- the Otto-von-Guericke University in Magdeburg -- was the best model for them.
“We had the opportunity and the contacts and that made it come about quickly,” said Gebara. "And the German model means that our degrees will be accepted across Europe."
And even though there has been a tendency for Arab students towards Anglo-Saxon education, Germany is often seen in a very positive light in the Arab world. “Germany is very highly regarded in education, industry, engineering,” said Nassifa Sabongui, a German University Cairo official. “And this university is attractive to students because it is particularly in the sciences that Egyptian faculties are lacking.”
Unlike most German universities so far, they have decided to charge tuition fees. It costs about 4,000 euros to study there. That is true of the Cairo school as well -- tuition is as much as 3,500 euros with a reduction for good grades. All schools offer scholarships.
And all three universities teach English and German while courses are held in English. But German Jordanian officials say they plan to also offer courses in German after students become more proficient.
Besides universities, other initiatives to bring Germany closer to young Arabs are in the works. The Goethe Institute and German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) also want to expand into the gulf region. For example, next year, the DAAD will open a branch of their office in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. Goethe Institute is opening a regional branch in April and will begin to offer German classes.