x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Research centre will tap into emirate needs

Paris Sorbonne University will open a research centre during the coming year which will focus on two key areas for the emirate's growth — sustainable development and public policy.

ABU DHABI // Paris Sorbonne University will open a research centre during the coming year which will focus on two key areas for the emirate's growth - sustainable development and public policy.

The centre will use existing faculty as well as bring in a range of experts in the field, the university's executive director, Jean-Yves de Cara, said.

"It's time we started to develop this. The country needs experts in the field," he said. "Sustainable development is a fascinating area and will be very interdisciplinary, with people from a range of fields including political science, economics, geography."

The move follows a needs assessment by the university, which took in its first students in 2006, and the centre will deal with key areas such as transport and pollution.

First a sign-off from the university's council in Paris is needed in December. The challenge of funding will then follow, and the university is in talks with a range of local partners, including the Abu Dhabi Education Council as well as local industry and universities.

Anna Vignoles, from the Institute of Education in London, said research was an important way to improve the quality of higher education in the UAE.

"If universities spend more on research, they are likely to attract higher quality staff and this in turn will improve the reputation and, potentially, the teaching in UAE universities."

Ms Vignoles added: "The environment for research and innovation is immature."

She said that simply spending on research and development does not automatically ensure high quality.

In the UK, where more of the gross domestic product is spent on research and development and budgets are allocated specifically, every institution has to submit its research portfolio for peer review.

"Not only does the UAE need to spend more on research but it has to be monitored in such a way that quality is high," Ms Vignoles said.

 

mswan@thenational.ae