Lebanese American University


LAU Byblos becomes a hub for institutional research professionals

The Department of Institutional Research & Assessment hosts the fifth MENA-AIR conference dedicated to assessment and planning in higher education.

Representatives from over 100 universities in the Middle East and North Africa will tomorrow gather at LAU Byblos to exchange expertise and information about institutional research. “It’s been a growing field in the region and an essential one for successful strategic decision making,” explains Diane Nauffal, head of LAU’s Department of Institutional Research & Assessment (DIRA), which she established in 2008. “The focus used to be on supporting accreditation, but now that we have gained accreditation for the university and many of its departments and programs, the new focus is on ranking.”

LAU ranked second in the region for research impact in a recent list issued by Times Higher Education, and Nauffal and her team intend to see LAU perform well in the various educational rankings that have started to target the MENA region. “Ranking is one of the four themes we will be focusing on at this year’s conference,” explains Nauffal, referring to the sixth edition of the MENA AIR conference that LAU will host over the next three days.

Other topics to be discussed during the conference include the role of data, global trends and internationalization in higher education. Nauffal, who also teaches courses in education assessment, calculus and statistics, will open the conference with a workshop on statistics for institutional research. Workshops on assessment of learning outcomes and strategic planning conducted by specialists from Lebanon and the UAE will conclude the first day’s program ahead of two days of presentations and panel discussions.

“We have invited a number of experienced professionals from outside MENA to join us as it is essential we learn from those whose institutions have for decades embraced the importance of research and assessment,” explains Nauffal.

A number of sessions will also provide opportunities for attendees to learn more about the unique experiences of various MENA based universities. “It is very important that we share our expertise and challenges, and learn from one another,” says Nauffal, adding that the ultimate goal should be to share data that can support decision-making.

“That is the ultimate role of the DIRA, to act as a central hub of information from which departments can make educated strategic decisions,” explains Nauffal, who has represented Lebanon and LAU at previous MENA AIR conferences. “Our work, as institutional research officers, is to support and strengthen the university by ensuring the integrity and consistency of information.”



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