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The challenges faced by the higher education sector in the Middle East and Africa were the focus of an event hosted by Cambridge Assessment English, which attracted more than 720 live attendees from all over the world. It was the first conference for the newly formed Cambridge Higher Education Consortium, which was set up in 2020 to share best practice between higher education institutions in the region in response to the global pandemic.
Dr Hisham AlSaghbini from Cambridge Assessment English opened the event with an overview of the consortium and its work over the last year.
‘The pandemic has had a huge impact on the higher education sector in the Middle East and Africa with so many students facing disruption,’ said Dr AlSaghbini. He continued: ‘We set up the new consortium in response to these challenges and this event was a fantastic platform to discuss the key issues universities continue to face. This included expert opinions and solutions on challenges related to student retention, English language assessment and the loss of the learning of fundamental life skills. We also looked at our wider work in Cambridge and how we measure the positive impact our qualifications have on learning.’
Dr AlSaghbini also gave a showcase on the flipped classroom model, which is an instructional classroom strategy that depends on blended learning techniques to increase student engagement and learning. This paper also showed how Linguaskill can be used as a learning tool in the classroom.
Other Sessions included a look at the impact Covid-19 has had on students from Dr Ahmed Hamed Al-Rahbi – Director, University of Nizwa in Oman. There was also a session on the impact of the pandemic on the ELT sector from Abeer Ali Okaz - IH Cairo Director of Studies, Training and Educational Development.
Cambridge Assessment English also gave a presentation on how their experts measure the impact of their English language assessments. There was also a look at how Cambridge experts are supporting the OECD in the forthcoming PISA Foreign Language Assessment.