Towards a New Generation of Engaged Universities:
The Need to Act, Adapt and Transform

16th – 18thApril, 2024 | Kempinski Central Avenue (Formerly the Address Dubai Mall), Dubai, UAE

6th MENA-HELF 2024 - Podcasts

This is our new event podcast collaboration partner, JFI Radio. 
Each of the podcasts recorded at our events will be featured here on this page. Alternatively, you can also access them individually on this link–1291938 

Catch up on the whole JFI Radio back catalogue and subscribe to JFI Radio on any of these platforms:

  • Spotify
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Find out more about the voice recording services that they offer at their website

JFI Radio went to Dubai in April 2024 hopefully heading to the sunshine! Little did we know that we would be caught up in a tornado and torrential rain – the worst for 75 years. This first mini podcast from the 6th MENA Higher Education Leadership Forum event is actually from the end and is a taster of what is to come from the other specially recorded bespoke podcasts talking about a new generation of engaged universities: The need to act, adapt, and transform. Make sure you come back to listen to more over the coming weeks.

An informal introduction to the excitement and sounds of the CLICKS 6th MENA-HELF event in Dubai on 16 April 2024. Listen as Józefa Fawcett of JFI Radio chats informally to delegates, student helpers, events team, and exhibitors.

Minerva Project is an education innovator based in San Francisco. It launched Minerva University, considered to be the most innovative university in the world, and is helping other universities create new innovative programmes. Founded in 2012 by Ben Nelson, Minerva’s mission is nurturing critical wisdom and to partner with leading institutions and organisations to design learning innovation strategies, and develop customised learning programmes based on four pillars: 1) skills-focused curricula, 2) evidence- based pedagogy, 3) outcomes-driven assessment, and 4) technology-enabled delivery. In this podcast Józefa Fawcett sits down with Ben Nelson at the end of the 6th MENA-HELF event in Dubai to explore why Minerva® is such a pioneer in educational transformation.

Special Podcast

The prestigious Zairi International Awards for Excellence in Higher Education recently concluded its 3rd cycle at the MENA-HELF event in Dubai. This year’s awards saw applications from leading institutions across the globe, all showcasing their impactful community contributions and sustainable initiatives.   Established in honour of the late Professor Mohamed Zairi (1956-2021), a renowned British scholar in quality and excellence management, the awards recognise excellence in five key areas, 2024 winners in “parentheses”:
  • Excellence for digital transformation “American University of the Middle East, Kuwait”
  • Excellence for research impact “Aga Khan University, Islamic Republic of Pakistan”
  • Excellence for internationalization “Modern University for Business and Science MUBS, Beirut, Lebanon”
  • Excellence for outstanding non-profit contribution to the community “Université Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdellah, Morocco”
  • Excellence for equity and inclusion “Sense Kaleidoscope, Republic of India”
Algerian-born scholar, Professor Mohamed Zairi (1956-2021), made significant contributions to business excellence, quality management, and benchmarking. Following a UAE Assessment cycle in 2017, Zairi’s conversation with Józefa Fawcett in Abu Dhabi offered a rare glimpse into his inspiring journey. This renowned expert, remembered for his humility, is the namesake behind the prestigious Zairi International Awards.
Dr Fanta Aw, Executive Director and CEO, Association of International Educators, US talks to Józefa Fawcett at the MENA-HELF event, about lifelong learning, communities of learning, and the increase of non-formal learning. During the podcast there are many thorny questions addressed, such as whether educators are ready to adapt the way they deliver different learning modalities, how they deliver intercultural and cross border awareness through learning programmes, and the ‘elephant in the room’ question; are traditional HE business models standing in the way of adaptation for the future and in so doing creating productive tensions.
In the episode recorded at the MENA-HELF event, Józefa Fawcett interviewed Dr Katherine Hack, Principal Adviser, Learning and Teaching AdvanceHE, UK who ran a pre-conference workshop about belonging in HE, and how to support and build competence, confidence, and resilience. Amongst other things she examined what is being done with students exploring pedaogical practice and inclusive learning spaces.
Dr Mahinour Ezzat, Manager, Instruction Higher College of Technology (HCT), Dubai, talks to Józefa Fawcett during the break about how valuable attending the MENA-HELF event is especially as she is responsible for pushing the boundaries of excellence and quality. HCT are active members of Advance HE a British charity promoting excellence in higher education. It advocates evidence-based teaching methods and awards fellowships as professional recognition for university teachers, and Mahinour supports the upskilling of faculty using the standards of Advance HE to enable them to pause and think about what they are doing when teaching, involving students in curriculum design, and adapting to the needs of future students.
Dr. Ashwin Fernandes, Executive Director – Africa, Middle East & South Asia from Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) talks to Józefa Fawcett at the 6th MENA-HELF event in Dubai about the latest trends in HE and how Universities need to adapt and prepare themselves for the learners of the future. QS has been sharing world rankings for over 20 years and in this podcast Dr Ashwin explores the evolution of the traditional university and why HE leaders need to attend MENA-HELF to learn from others and be inspired by HE ideas from around the world.
Professor Ghassan Aouad, Chancellor, Abu Dhabi University, has been a supporter of the MENA Higher Education Leadership Forum for many years and so it was with great pleasure, Józefa Fawcett was able to catch him in between his speaking and role on various panels to talk about the work being done at Abu Dhabi University (ADU) with a focus on engagement with stakeholders and students to continually work towards HE standards of excellence, and the subsequent multiple awards they have earned. ADU have actively embraced technology, digitial transformation, and sustainability – which is one of their core pillars. Professor Ghassan explains that we need to create custodians for the future and whereas we might not predict what this future might look like, Universities have a role in helping cuture citizen be best prepared.
Fancy eavesdropping on a conversation over the coffee break between three professionals at the MENA-HELF conference?  Well with this podcast you can. Gheyath Abbas, Director, Institutional Effectiveness Office, American University in the Emirates, and Dr Alia Mitchell (Connie), Vice Dean, College of Humanities and Sciences, Director Prince Sultan University, KSA, and Józefa Fawcett, Future Capability Architect, JFI Academy & podcast host, JFI Radio got together during the break to chat about how to give yoru students and your workforce a voice.  All very appropriate on World Voice Day. Take a listen.


JFI Radio brings an exciting new podcast (episode 17) to Season 13 with Nick Davis, President, Middle East & Africa, THE (Times Higher Education). Nick has worked at THE for almost a decade and during that time amassed a wealth of knowledge in the global higher education sector. Unable to pin him down in Dubai, Józefa Fawcett arranged to meet him virtually once back in the UK to discuss amongst other things ‘the scale of equity’ and how THE is best placed to guide HEIs on their journey towards achieving their goals and vision and in readiness for the future.