Bahrain has two universities for higher education: Bahrain University (BU), founded in 1968, and the Arabian Gulf University (AGU), which opened in 1979. In the late 1970s and 1980s higher education in Bahrain saw rapid development. Within the university system, the College of Health Services graduated students for entry into the health profession, and Gulf Polytechnic expanded in the 1980s to meet the specialized technical needs of the Gulf region in such areas as computer science, engineering, and business management.
Arab Gulf countries, sharing a common heritage and common challenges, established AGU with the goals of calibrating programs and curricula according to the cultural, scientific, and occupational needs of the GCC member states. Education and research related to the Gulf region is the mandate of AGU carried out in the programs of study and research within its two colleges: the College of Medicine and Medical Sciences, and the College of Postgraduate Studies. Beyond AGU, promising students are funded for studies abroad in areas such as the medical sciences, information and communications sciences, energy sciences, desertification, biotechnology, astronomy, oceanography, educational planning, guidance and counseling, vocational education, and special education.
While institutions of higher learning in the Arab world and the Gulf region have proliferated, coordination among these institutions has been less than ideal. In 1995 Muain H. Jamlan, Chair of the Department of Educational Technology in BU's College of Education, proposed incorporating trends in distance learning and the concept of an Arab "open" university to deliver online instruction as a way of addressing the challenges of greater cooperation in educational planning.
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