Region's universities take 'world-class' IT approach

Middle East universities building out impressive approaches to learning using IT, say experts

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Region's universities take 'world-class' IT approach Huawei's Raffensperger: Regional universities are building robust IT and software capabilities
By  Tom Paye Published  April 8, 2014

According to experts present at last week's Gartner Symposium in Dubai, Universities in the Middle East are displaying a ‘world-class' aptitude for IT as they build out more impressive infrastructures that aid next-generation learning.

As other industries struggle with issues surrounding skills retention - due to the high number of expatriate workers in the region - Middle Eastern learning institutions are adopting class-leading approaches to technology, using home-grown talent to do so, the experts said.  

"The people I've spoken to here from university and higher education backgrounds are describing approaches to teaching, learning and discovery that are world-class in terms of their visionary leadership and how they want to use digital media to do those things," said John Mahoney, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner.

"And it's not really hand-waving ambition; some of these institutions have the world's largest implementation of tablet installations among students and teachers and so on."

Separately, Huawei's CTO for IT solution sales, Ron Raffensperger, said that, while it used to be the case that organisations in the Middle East struggled to find the right talent to adopt new technologies, what he sees at educational institutions across the region is beginning to buck that trend.

"They're building very, very robust IT and software capabilities. I'm starting to see a lot more raw capabilities coming from local staff, they're not importing them from everywhere," he said.

"Skills will continue to be a challenge but I think that the educational institutions are beginning to step up to that challenge."

The issue of skill retention in the Middle East has been a hot topic over recent years. As enterprises attempt to get to grips with emerging trends such as software-defined networking and big data analytics, many find it difficult to retain talent once it has been fully nurtured.

"Probably the biggest challenge is the nature of skills acquisition and skills embedding rather than skills retention in a sustainable way among the local workforce," said Mahoney.

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