Dr. Kathleen Ives
Dr. Kathleen S. Ives – says universities and colleges must embrace the spirit of innovation

MENA Higher Education Leadership Forum in Abu Dhabi will be told students fear they are not well prepared by universities for careers

Dubai, UAE, 26 October, 2015:  MENA region employers share the concern of counterparts in the U.S. that universities are not preparing students with sufficient key skills needed for the workplace, an American higher education expert says.

Dr. Kathleen S. Ives, CEO & Executive Director, Online Learning Consortium – formerly known as Sloan Consortium, will tell the second MENA Higher Education Leadership Forum in Abu Dhabi next month that growing numbers of students also fear they are not well equipped to pursue their chosen careers.  Ives joins the list of international speakers and will address audiences on the overriding theme of innovation and technology.

“Emerging trends in the MENA region parallel those occurring in the United States,” said Dr. Ives, one of 25 influential speakers who will be addressing the forum  taking place from 9-11 November at the Dusit Thani Abu-Dhabi.

“Research indicates 71% of MENA region employers remained apprehensive as to whether the current education system produces students with capabilities and skills deemed appropriate for the workforce.

“In the United States, one in five employers believe higher education institutions do not prepare students with important workplace competencies, such as soft skills like collaboration, communication, leadership, and real-world experiences, which would be supported through participation in internships and, or apprenticeships.”

Added Dr. Ives: “Students are also beginning to feel the pressure. One in two in the UAE are currently pursuing a field in either business or engineering, yet 32% believe they are not truly equipped with the skills and training required for their chosen career.

“Similarly, in Saudi Arabia nearly half of all local students reported these concerns.  Meanwhile, in the United States, 10.5% of young college graduates are neither enrolled in graduate courses nor employed , compared with 8.4% in 2007.”

Higher education leaders and decision makers from 50 countries across the region and worldwide will attend the second MENA Higher Education Leadership Forum, which is being held under the patronage of  H.E. Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Culture, Youth, and Community.

The event is organised by the Dubai-based Center for Learning Innovations and Customized Knowledge Solutions  in partnership with the Association of Arab Universities, the International Council for Open and Distance Education and the Leadership Higher Education Foundation.

The forum is supported by Forum Partners, International Council for Open and Distance Education, Leadership Foundation for Higher Education;  Diamond Sponsor, ITS; Bronze Sponsors, Turning Technologies, Intaglio; and Supporter, C&K Management ltd.

Dr. Ives places a big emphasis on technology and innovation  in the future improvement of higher education. “Advances in technology are now inexpensive and abundantly available,” she says. “Online learning and competency-based models, where learners earn credit based on how much they learn rather than time spent in class, can reduce the cost of post-secondary education.

“What is key to this educational transformation is a focus on professional development for both faculty members and higher education administrators.   If universities and colleges are to play a pivotal role in the stability, development, economic prosperity of society, the spirit of innovation must be embraced..”

More details of the event and a full list of keynote speakers and panelists can be found on the Forum’s official website at