Gearing academic research endeavors towards achieving sustainable development in third world countries


Khasawneh Mohammed A. and Malkawi Abdullah I.


ry education in the developing world in general and around the Arab world in particular has witnessed a pronounced downturn in recent years. The decline in the quality of delivered product from these tertiary systems serves as a direct indicator to the lingering issues that pose some pressing needs to be addressed and coped with seriously and adequately.


As most university systems in third world countries are comparatively new, and are more qualified to join the domain of teaching-only institutions, it is rather difficult to find academic institutions in the developing world that can readily fulfil the status of research-strong institutions. With the witnessed recent downturn, academic institutions in the third world can neither reap properly the status of teaching-only nor research-strong institutions! Furthermore, because of the lack of stringent requirements by legislative bodies in developing countries on academic accreditation, a great many number of academic curricula have gone off-track in keeping apace with what a given academic curriculum under a specific domain should be like. This has drastically impacted the academic performance of university systems in an adverse way; where the binding force to update academic curricula in the developed world lies primarily with efforts undertaken to keep academic curricula current and coherent with standardized accreditation requirements, one would find little reason to pursue such venues in the developing world, especially that acquiring some form of recognition by means of international-grade accreditation normally requires prohibitive budgets and efforts that only few of the academic institutions involved are willing to undertake.

In the absence of stringent requirements on acquiring accreditation, the end product of the process, being the graduates, ends up in many cases not market worthy and face many challenges in securing and retaining jobs in highly competitive job markets. The issue is further compounded by a lack of industry-grade research since the underpinning economies cannot support real industries, and where industries exit, they only are considered as light industries that cannot rise to the status of real or core industries; traditionally, research-strong institutions have worked around industry bases that can, also, foster academic research. Academic institutions with strong industry-grade research bases have long been known to support quality teaching efforts and to produce the graduate of the right quality to suite the job market needs.


Countries with no core industry bases can still compete satisfactorily when properly guided, initially, through partnerships with countries that have them. When India, around the Mid 50’s, for instance, decided to industrialize its economy it set out by creating links with world-class academic institution in the US. In just under three decades, India managed to get hold of a significant share of the global Software Industry market that many countries in the third world aspire to follow the Indian model. Ireland poses yet another example at transforming its economy into an industry-supported one; in just few years Ireland, with its tiny population of 3+ Million, managed to transform itself into one of the largest software exporting nations world-wide towards the late 90’s. Ireland now exports around $40 Billion worth in software annually, where its economy once depended heavily on agriculture.

In this paper, we propose a model, which when followed by the incumbent third world countries, is bound to transform agriculture-based or natural-resource based economies into industry supported ones. The focus would certainly be on tweaking existing academic systems in third world countries towards fulfilling the needs of some suitable industry bases for the underlying economies and the supporting markets. This paper will directly address Research Capacity, Productivity, and Utility within the underlying academic institutions as applies to transforming rather primitive economies into economies that can foster some core industry that would eventually lead to some form of sustainable development for the given country/ies involved.