While the number of global and country-level ranking and classification systems continues to expand, a regional classification and assessment of higher education institutions in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region has not been developed. Such a system is particularly needed given the rapid expansion of the higher education sector in the region, as new domestic institutions and branch campuses of overseas institutions emerge and as higher education in the region becomes increasingly complex and varied.
Recognizing a significant need for reliable and standardized institution-level data on higher education institutions (HEIs) in the MENA region, the Institute of International Education (IIE), with support from Carnegie Corporation of New York and in partnership with the Lebanese Association of Educational Studies (LAES), initiated a pilot study in May 2009 to develop a system for classifying HEIs in the region. The original eight pilot countries included: Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, and the UAE.
Incorporating eleven key dimensions that comprise the Classification Model for the Arab Countries (CMAC), this first-ever study and accompanying report include data and findings from 300 higher education institutions across seven countries. This classifications initiative is a critical first step in gathering institutional data for the higher education sector in the Arab world that provides a common framework for developing a better understanding of the institutions in the region.