(MENAFN- Gulf Times) It is a model that aims to achieve integration between global educational institutions in all stages of education, research entities, and project incubators while providing supporting infrastructure in an integrated and flexible system
Hind Zainal, Executive Director of Management, Strategy and Partnerships in the Higher Education Sector at QF, has spoken of a new QF strategy based on the multi-city model in higher education, which is a model that aims to achieve integration between global educational institutions in all stages of education, research entities, and project incubators, while providing the supporting infrastructure in an integrated and flexible system.
In an exclusive interview with Qatar News Agency, Hind Zainal shed light on the features of the strategy that enables students at all educational levels, faculty members, employees as well as members of society from outside the institution, to choose the most appropriate educational and training paths for them.
It also includes more integration and co-operation between the higher education stage and the pre-university education stage at QF, in addition to strengthening co-operation in key areas with the community development sector and the research and innovation sector in QF.
She indicated that the multi-city model allows breaking barriers between different levels of education, whether in academic or non-academic educational experiences, and enables students to lead the educational process themselves and choose the appropriate education method, thus providing them more opportunities to interact with university students and faculty members to improve their skills.
QF will witness more co-operation in the field of higher education with partner universities, Hamad Bin Khalifa University, and other higher education institutions in the country such as Qatar University, she said, noting that higher education institutions all over the world seek to find integration between the literary, scientific and human sciences fields and to break down barriers between the different colleges within the same university.
She also clarified that QF has 8 independent universities operating under its umbrella, and has succeeded over the years in achieving this integration by providing the possibility of mutual registration of some joint academic courses and certificates, expressing its aspiration to continue these fruitful efforts and provide more opportunities for co-operation in the future.
Zainal stated that the Foundation is working through its new strategy to enhance co-operation between universities in QF and break traditional barriers between education from kindergarten to secondary education and higher education, noting that one of the ideas currently presented is to give students the opportunity to choose the educational paths that are most appropriate for them, through (Your Path) initiative that provides the possibility of joint registration between the Foundation’s universities; for example, if a student is interested in solving the problem of water scarcity in a particular part of the world, he can, through this initiative, attend engineering classes at Texas A & M University in Qatar, as well as dual geopolitical classes at Georgetown University in Qatar, and design lessons at Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts in Qatar, i.e. students can customise what they learn according to their interests.
On the role of this new strategy in supporting the labour market and the economy in Qatar, she explained that it was carried out co-operatively. Local and international experts participated in it, as well as students, alumni, and partners of Qatar Foundation from various sectors and local stakeholders.
''We realised the urgent need for closer co-operation between our educational system, the labour market, and the different sectors in Qatar through the involvement of these parties,” she said.
''For example, we have seen that the labour market in Qatar will face major changes in the future and it is estimated that about 50% of the current jobs may be subject to the (automate process), and we are working to create channels for co-operation with the labour market and focus on developing students’ skills, in line with labour market needs.”
Zainal added that QF knows that their graduates have skills that are in very high demand by employers, the most important of which are good communication skills, innovation, in addition to social skills.
She noted that QF was keen to foster those skills to ensure the students easy entrance to the labour market.
On how the new strategy contributes to linking the Qatar Foundation system to the educational scene in the country as a whole, Zainal said that Qatar Foundation seeks to expand the scope of its co-operation beyond the boundaries of the Education City and enhance its role in developing the educational scene in Qatar in general.
The new strategy focuses in particular on work with local stakeholders, and with other universities, and share goals and approaches with them so that everyone can move forward in this stage.
Zainal gave an example with one of the initiatives on human resources in Qatar, saying it aims to become a source of updated and trusted information on the future of work in Qatar.
The project is currently being implemented in co-operation with the state’s designated authorities to provide a glimpse of the transformation Qatar’s job market will see over the next five to 20 years.
Regarding the reasons for launching a new strategy for higher education in this difficult period globally, she explained that the development of this strategy began before the Covid-19 pandemic, but the epidemic has challenged decades of global assumptions in higher education about the most appropriate method for education.
She said that despite being proud of the accomplishments, there remains a need to assess them in order to move forward in line with the country’s goals, and to address the challenges that higher education faces locally and globally.
She highlighted that students born in the nineties and those born in the first decade of the second millennium receive education completely differently from previous generations, something that confirms the importance of meeting the needs of today’s students.
She added that designing the strategy to enhance their abilities to choose the most appropriate educational path will be a big plus for them.
She pointed out that when the Qatar Foundation was established 25 years ago, the educational landscape in Qatar was completely different from what it is today.
Qatar Foundation had an insightful strategic vision on how to make a radical transformation in the landscape of higher education in the country, and the idea was to establish local branches for the most prestigious international universities.
She noted that Qatar has come a long way in developing its educational system over the past two decades, and QF has played a major role in that development.
She said that higher education at Qatar Foundation, which includes eight partner universities alongside Hamad Bin Khalifa University, offers more than 70 programmes including undergraduate, graduate, doctoral, and executive education programmes.
QF have graduated more than 4,000 students so far, and many of them occupy key leadership positions in the country.
There are currently more than 3,000 students enrolled in the foundation’s programmes, and many of them have the ability to enrol in classes in any of the higher education programmes at QF.
In addition, students have a very good ratio compared to the faculty ratio, which is a ratio of 1:6, which enhances the possibility of individual focus on students and better support them.
In conclusion of her talk with QNA, Zainal sent a message to the graduates of the 2020 and 2021 classes, which Qatar Foundation will celebrate tomorrow, emphasising the ability of the graduates to overcome any challenges they may face in the future.
She said that they will always be a part of QF, and will be welcome to return at any time they decide to pursue more knowledge and education.
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