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CMENAS Fall Colloquium. Higher Ed between Authoritarianism and Neoliberalism

Muez Ali & Laura Mann, University College London (UK) & London School of Economics and Political Science (UK); Saeid Golkar, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (USA)
Monday, October 24, 2022
12:00-2:00 PM
2022 CMENAS Fall Colloquium: Higher Education & Reformation across the MENA: A Geopolitical Exploration

“Between Authoritarianism and Neoliberalism”

Muez Ali & Laura Mann, University College London (UK) & London School of Economics and Political Science (UK): The Long-term Consequences of the Commercialization and Politicization of Higher Education on Employment and Politics in Sudan

In the 1990s, Sudan underwent a massive expansion and commercialization of its higher education system, moving from having three to 27 universities over a ten-year period. Within each university, student numbers also rose, and shorter two-year diplomas were also introduced in an effort to raise revenue. Access to higher education expanded dramatically, but administrators and academics struggled to maintain educational quality and to protect the value of their qualifications in the labour market. Sudan’s experience reflects broader trends within the Middle East and Africa, in part driven by the World Bank’s ‘rate of return’ calculations, which de-prioritized public spending on higher education. But the policy also emerged from Sudan’s own political economy, with a new regime seeking to weaken sectarian control over elite reproduction through universities and state employment. This talk explores some of the long-term consequences of these changes for economic development and politics in Sudan, and situates the country’s experience within broader regional trends.

Saeid Golkar, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (USA): Higher Education in Authoritarian Context: Iran as a case study

This is a study of state and Universities relationship in modern Iran. Despite the constant suppression of students by Pahlavi monarchy, students were actively engaged in anti-regime activities and, in collaboration with other social groups, finally brought the regime down in 1979. However, the Islamic Republic has seen fewer regime-threatening protests from university students. Why did the Pahlavi monarchy fail while the Islamic Republic succeeded in controlling the universities? What are the differences between the Pahlavi monarchy and the Islamic Republic's higher education policies?

Speaker Bios:
Muez Ali is a Doctoral Researcher at the UCL Energy Institute and Research Associate at LSE CPAID. His research interests and work span several cross-cutting fields, including public service provision, climate change, social policy and knowledge production in Sub-Saharan Africa in general and Sudan in particular.

Laura Mann is an assistant professor in the International Development Department at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and an affiliate of the Firoz Lalji Institute for Africa, also at the LSE. Her research explores the role of knowledge and technology in processes of economic development and international divergence, with a particular focus on higher education policy and digitization. Her doctoral work focused on the expansion of higher education in Sudan but since then has worked on digitization and development in Sudan, Kenya and Rwanda.

Saeid Golkar is a UC Foundation Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. He is also a non-resident senior fellow on Middle East Policy at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs (CCGA) and The Tony Blair Institute for Global Change in the UK. He received his PhD in political science in 2008. Since then, he's held a postdoctoral fellowship at Stanford University and researched and taught at Northwestern Universit and served as a fellow at the National Endowment for Democracy and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. His research focuses on the international and comparative politics of authoritarian regimes, emphasizing the Middle East and North Africa. His book, Captive Society: The Basij Mobilization and Social Control in Post-Revolutionary Iran Columbia University Press, 2015, was awarded the Washington Institute silver medal.

Register to the virtual event:

If there is anything we can do to make this event accessible to you, please contact Please be aware that advance notice is necessary as some accommodations may require more time for the university to arrange.
Building: Off Campus Location
Location: Virtual
Event Link:
Event Type: Class / Instruction
Tags: Cmenas Colloquium Series, Higher Education, Middle East Studies, Virtual
Source: Happening @ Michigan from Center for Middle Eastern and North African Studies, International Institute, Weiser Center for Emerging Democracies, African Studies Center, Department of Anthropology, School of Education Center for the Study of Higher and Postsecondary Education