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University of Buraimi: An Academic dystopia
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a.anas



Joined: 24 Jun 2014
Posts: 21
Location: Sudan

PostPosted: Sat Jul 12, 2014 11:00 pm    Post subject: University of Buraimi: An Academic dystopia Reply with quote

University of Buraimi (UOB): An academic dystopia

Anes (MOD edit for names)

alternativ.view@gmail.com

While the word dystopia in the title might sound hyperbolic, any other word would fall short of capturing the essence of the huge chaos that has come to be known as the ‘university’ of Buraimi. Nowhere is this dystopia more visible than in the massive and understandable discontent felt by all the teaching staff and all the students without an exception. Despite this hard-to-ignore dissatisfaction, it is appalling how unwilling the administration of the ‘university’ is when it comes to grappling with a whole host of serious and legitimate problems that not only mock the very notion of education but turn it into a painful and extremely but unnecessarily stressful experience for both teachers and students alike. since profit is the be-all and end-all of this caricature of a university, the owners have adopted an ostrich attitude to problems: we won’t be bothered to take any step to address any problem as long as nothing happens to our profit. On many occasions of righteous indignation, I tried to impress upon the indifferent officials of the make-believe university the urgency to take action, but all my efforts were in vain. Everything about this badly run business offends my sensibilities. In this article, I want to focus on the fundamental problems of the ‘university’ (henceforth, the boondoggle, just in the interests of accuracy).

Lack of vision

A cursory look at the level of incompetence in the boondoggle is more than enough to show that the last thing the owners of the university care about is education. I remember talking to the head of HR (S. A.N), who is committed to ignoring all the salient problems, about the problems of the university when she let it slip that the university of boondoggle is listed as a company rather than a university, which makes perfect sense because it takes enormous conscious effort to not see it for what it really is: profit-making company. Certainly none of the teachers is under the impression that it is an academic institution. I once said to my students, in an honest exchange, that the university of boondoggle is a huge charade in which teachers pretend to teach, students pretend to study, and the walls pretend to be a university. Everything about this boondoggle reeks of money-siphoning scheme in which the main owners of the business receive public money in the form of customers (students) who are fully funded by the ministry of higher education. What’s more, it is a business in which customers’ satisfaction is perceived by the owners as unnecessary because students are on a scholarship. Things might have been different if students had to pay for their degree.

In such a set-up, both students and teachers are shortchanged. I used to quip during my invigilation duties that the main issue here is not preventing students from cheating but rather preventing the boondoggle from cheating. There is very little doubt in my mind that the owners are cheating everybody. The students end up getting worthless degrees that can be good only for the walls in their rooms, Which brings me to the second main problem of the boondoggle.

Lack of professionalism

My job interview should have been a telltale sign that something is fundamentally amiss with this ‘institution’, and I actually suspected as much. Still, nothing could have prepared me for the shambles of the boondoggle. The interview which was anything but professional was conducted by Dr. A. I said far from professional because I was not asked a single professional question during the ramble which lasted for about two hours, and left me wondering what was that about. However, it wasn’t until he began to persuade me to accept the position that I started to feel uncomfortable. Later I found out that it is his modus operandi as other teachers had the same experience during their own ‘job interview’. In order to cushion the blow, he kept feeding us a line about the boondoggle being in its infancy-five years with the same mess since its launch. What he deliberately and dishonestly left out of account is that not much has changed in any meaningful sense. He is fully aware of how dysfunctional the ‘university’ is because he told me that when we were discussing the problems, but his main concern is the paycheck as he has financial obligations. As long as you keep up the appearance of engaging in an academic activity, it doesn’t matter if there is very little substance to it. The message which few teachers don’t get, to their own detriment, is: keep students happy by passing them and more importantly keep them away from his office because he doesn’t want to be bothered by any problem-an attitude shared by all the officials of the university.

Another recruiter in another department was cynical but honest enough to tell interviewees the truth. I was having a chat with him about the problems of the boondoggle when he said to me that he makes it a point to make it clear to job applicants that if they don’t mind working in an authoritarian environment without any possibility of professional development, then they are welcome aboard (or welcome to hell as one of my colleague said to a newcomer). In effect, he tells them that if they don’t mind working in a place that has nothing to do with a real university but pretends to be one, then they are more than welcome. His cynicism aside, his characterization of the boondoggle is spot-on.

Shoddy and loose contracts

The contract we signed turned out to be in violation of Omani labor law. For instance, while article 24 of labor law states that “A worker shall not be placed on probation for a period exceeding three months if he receives his wage on a monthly basis nor shall such period exceed one month if he receives his wage otherwise”, the boondoggle decided to increase it to six months as stated in the faculty handbook “Probation Period: The probation period is 6 months unless otherwise stated in your contract. For further information, please refer to your contract”. Incidentally, section 3.9 of the faculty handbook, which deals with faculty duties and responsibility is a classic act of plagiarism as it was lifted outright from another website.

Let’s consider an example of a shoddy legal practice. In the contract, the probation period is not specified in terms of months but in terms of semester “The employee shall be put in a probationary period for a semester (fall or spring) from the date of his/her appointment”. While it is not stated in the contract that the probation period is six months, a semester is clearly longer than three months which exceed the time limit set by labor law for probation period. Apparently, the liberty the boondoggle took of extending the probation period did not sit well with the court as they found out in a lawsuit filed against them by a colleague of mine who got fired because he failed students after catching them red-handed plagiarizing, which is not a crime in the eyes of the boondoggle as it is guilty of the same thing. Anyway, they lost the case as it was a clear violation of Omani labor law to fire someone after three months.

The contract is an illegal document and the only thing that gives it legitimacy is that the signees (teachers) don’t suspect that an academic institution would stoop so low as to create a legal documents with lots of loopholes in the hope that nobody will notice them. Another reason why they think they can get away with it is that when they arbitrarily terminate a contract, they expect the fired employee to pack up and leave without putting up any fight for their rights-actually they have the nerves to mention in the contract that the boondoggle has the right to “terminate a contract at will, without giving any reason”. I only know of two cases in which the wronged employees decided to fight it and in both cases, the boondoggle lost.

Being notorious for inconsistency, the contract the boondoggle signs with other departments (two-year contract) is not the same as the one it signs with teachers at the center of foundation studies (one-year contract). The pay scale is also different: teachers at other departments are paid more than teachers at the center of foundation studies. What’s more, within each departments the pay isn’t the same and it has nothing to do with qualification or experience. For instance, PhD holders are supposedly paid the same salary (1269 Omani Riyal), but out of the four PhD holders in the department, one was paid 1560 Omani Riyals.

Make-it-up-as-you-go-along curriculum

When I first arrived at the university, one month had already passed since the beginning of Fall semester 2014, which meant that the students did not have any class for a whole month. I was assigned to teach ESP for nursing which had been assigned to another teacher earlier who went to a great length to select materials for the course. She explained to me the situation and we went to the director of the center of foundation studies to straighten out this mess. Eventually, I was assigned to teach one group of nursing II and three groups of optometry I.

The previous teacher of ESP for nursing ,who resigned and left, selected Cambridge English for nursing which turned out to be more difficult than the one picked by the new teacher. So, my students felt bored as they had already covered some of the topics of the new book in nursing I, when they were studying the old book. To make up for this, I kept coming up with more difficult and interesting worksheets.

The situation was worse in the case of optometry. Once again, the previous teacher, who also quit, went for the quick fix. As there was no any ESP textbook for the students of optometry, she opted for “General English for Health Sciences” which does not have any eye-related topics. I couldn’t , in good conscience, teach something irrelevant, so I looked for something meaningful for optometry and when I did not find anything, I started developing authentic and relevant materials for the students of optometry. This lack of consistent curriculum can be seen in all of the four courses which the so-called university offers: nursing, optometry, business administration, and engineering.

Given the high rate of turnover, the students have to deal with a new curriculum every time they have a new teacher because the university doesn’t bother to ensure that these four majors have appropriate and consistent curriculum. As long as students don’t complain openly, then everything is fine. I wonder what the students of optometry will study next as I am happily leaving this chaos.

Similarly, the distribution of academic credits is driven by this lack of meaningful, relevant, and consistent curriculum. ESP courses are assigned five credit hours per term for one academic year. I find it unusual for students to spend this much time studying ESP. I taught ESP for the students of medicine at the university of Tehran, Iran and it was a 90-minute class once a week. It is just another example of how students are shortchanged and deprived of having a meaningful academic experience.

Exploitation of teachers

Aside from the administrative and pedagogical disarray, the high rate of the exploitation of teachers is behind one of the highest turnover rates I have ever seen. For instance, I taught four classes of optometry and each class had 30 students. To give you a sense of how exploitative and greedy the owners are, let’s work out the rate of my exploitation. Each student pays 95 Omani Riyal ($246.72) per one credit hour and since the ESP course is five credit hours, the total comes out to 475 Omani Riyal ($1233.61) per students, multiplied by 120 students and the grand total is 57000 Omani Riyal ($148032.73) out of which I was paid only 5075 Omani Riyal ($13182.70) per term (4 months). It should be noted that this is the pay for a PhD holder. Incidentally, there are only four PhD holders out of 32 teachers. Rather than boosting the quality of education by hiring at least 4 teachers for this big number of students, the owners hire only one to do the job of four teachers at the cost of students getting less and less quality teaching and teachers experiencing high rate of burnout. But, it is all about profit maximization at whatever cost. If this is not academic sweatshop, I don’t know what is.

Lack of competence

As the boondoggle is solely driven by the need to make more and more money, the greedy owners focus on employing applicants with BA and MA as a source of cheaper academic staff who are only too happy to get a teaching job at a ‘university’. Similarly, a few of them have hit the age limit (60) or close to it and it is difficult for them to get employment elsewhere. Still, I know some who resigned without having found an alternative despite the fact that the odds are stacked against them just because they couldn’t tolerate it.

The invisible vice chancellor is an embodiment of incompetence. I said invisible because I did not see him for the entire duration of the nine months I was at the boondoggle. Some of my colleagues who have met him were surprised as to how he got picked to be the vice chancellor. Aside from being a yes-man, which is the only quality the owners look for in a good vice chancellor, his academic record doesn’t qualify him for this position. I looked him up to see if was wrong, but I found very little in the way of publications. The same goes for the director of the center of foundation studies, who claims to be an associate professor. I guess all you need to do in order to be a professor in this boondoggle is to have the audacity to claim to be one.

Penalizing teachers for conference participation

The concept of research is completely foreign to this boondoggle (UOB). While the officials keep saying that it is a young university (almost five years old) as an excuse for their total lack of interest in research, there is no incentive to set up even one research center-whatever costs money is avoided. Not only is the university unwilling to invest in any research, but it actually discourages it and penalizes it. Those of us who had papers to present at international conference were told that “No leave for conference participation. Applicant can only apply for unpaid leave, with a cover-up plan during his leave” (Dr. A’s comment on my leave form). I was livid because instead of supporting and rewarding us, the boondoggle punished us for presenting research findings at international conferences. leaving aside the shocking fact that the boondoggle does want to have anything to do with research even as part of its cover-up, there is actually no mention of any consequences of conference participation in the contract. In keeping with their practice of make it up as you go along, the officials give themselves the right to make up laws on the spur of the moment. I am sure the people in charge of this mess don’t take the trouble to read what’s in their own partially plagiarized faculty handbook. For instance, under institutional goals, the boondoggle claims that one of its objective is “ To promote research that serves the needs of the society and addresses strategic issues” I forgot that they don’t usually mean what they say. Another indication that this place wasn’t set up to be a real university.

Questionable affiliations and lack of accreditation

When it comes to making exaggerated and unsupported claims, nobody can hold a candle to the boondoggle (UOB). The profile of the boondoggle claims that “Students get certificates that are accredited in Europe and in Oman. We bring two cultures together. The partnership with the affiliated Universities gives an opportunity for our students to pursue their career internationally and globally, and the possibility to have an exchange study program with our partner Universities. We provide the students with specializations that would enable them to find work when they graduate”. It is amazing how much duplicity and mendacity they can get away with simply because they never expect people to verify their claims. Here is a quote from Wikipedia regarding the European affiliations. “The university claims to be officially affiliated with five prestigious European universities and offers programs under Omani and European control. However this claim is not substantiated”. The claim is patently false because it is highly unlikely that a reputable academic institution in Europe will run the risk of having anything to do with a make-believe university that not only it is not accredited by the Oman Academic Accreditation Authority , but it doesn’t even bother to make the least effort to measure up to the minimum academic standards

Further false statements

While the language requirement was scrapped two years ago as it was deemed too much of a nuisance in the sense that it interfered with passing students without meeting the language requirement, the boondoggle continues to claim that the objective of its English program is “To prepare students for the IELTS exam and to provide students with the English skills and the study skills they need to be successful in their degree program”. currently, the students are not required to obtain IELTS score to commence their college degree programs. Apparently, this false claim is intended to give the boondoggle a thin veneer of professionalism that it terribly lacks. Since most students are passed by bumping up their grades, their level of proficiency is so low that the majority of them can’t make one correct sentence by the time they start their college degree programs. I was teaching ESP for the students of optometry when I saw how the poor students were struggling hard to come up with one grammatically correct utterance. Setting aside the interesting question of why students in an exclusively Arabic-speaking country without having prior exposure to English in high school are suddenly expected to be fluent enough to comprehend technical English texts written for native-speakers, the English program offered by the center of foundation studies is horribly wanting. For starters, the students are taught “New Interchange”, which couldn’t be more irrelevant to their needs and cultural contexts. Likewise, the textbook is anything but academic and as such it is totally inappropriate for the purpose of preparing students for their academic courses.
The website of the boondoggle is replete with false statements like the above. Here is another one “The level of teaching in the University is high; UoB is using the best possible teachers and professors from Europe and in the Region to get high quality education standards”. Having taught for two terms here, I am in a position to refute this claim. As stated above, there are only four PhD holders out of thirty something teachers at the center of foundation studies and one of them was fired because he was too professional for their taste. see the section “lack of competence” above to find out more about the academic staff at the boondoggle. To hide their incompetence, there is no list of academic staff on their website. Actually, the whole website is a dead giveaway because not only does it look unprofessional, but also it contains lots of false and contradictory information. For instance, it is the only private ‘institution’ that does not give any information about its fee structure on their website.
High staff turnover rate

A worker at the cafeteria told me that he sees new faces (teachers) every term and he doesn’t see the old ones. In fact, In the spring of 2014 alone, seven of us resigned and many others are hoping to find a better university before they come back from their summer holidays. In fall semester of 2014, four more teachers left and one was arbitrarily fired as I stated above. Most teachers have been robbed of any autonomy and they are expected to comply with authoritarian and arbitrary rules. In fact, the mis-director of the center of foundation studies closes his grammatically incorrect emails with this sentence: “your full compliance is anticipated” (whatever that means). Similarly, teachers aren’t allowed to fail many students as this will interfere with the profit of the owners. I talked to all of the remaining teachers at the center of foundation studies and almost all of them are frantically looking for a way out. Considering how structurally dysfunctional this academic dystopia is, I am really puzzled as to how it has kept going so far. I can only put it to oil money and absence of government oversight, or a perfunctory oversight.

In a desperate move to reduce the turnover rate, the boondoggle decided not to give teachers a border-pass to go to the UAE until six months from the day they have commenced their teaching duties. This arbitrary rule, which is found nowhere else in Oman, is presumably intended to prevent teachers from looking for jobs in the UAE. The rule is pointless because one can still cross the border with an exist and re-entry visa. I had an argument with the head of HR (S.A.N) over the logic behind it, but she kept repeating that it is a new regulation of the boondoggle. I told her that the best way to retain your teachers is to keep them satisfied, but as usual I was banging my head against a wall of illogic. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that such measures were bound to backfire as they did. likewise, such measures are quite revealing as they give a sense of how this mess has been created. I, for one, made up my mind to leave when I saw how arbitrary and sloppy the boondoggle is and many other teachers naturally followed suit.

Steps we have taken

Prompted by our sense of righteousness and concern for the cheated students, my friend, (MOD edit) and I held meetings with the authorities in Oman in order to get them to see that unless serious measures are taken, nothing will change and the situation will continue to get worse. We met with the head of labor office in the Al-Buraimi governorate and gave him a letter that describes the articles of Omani Labor law which UOB has violated. We also went to the governor’s office and spoke with the legal advisor there. Upon hearing the duplicity of UOB and especially the bogus claim that they are affiliated with five European Universities, he explained to us that a criminal case can be brought against UOB because they deliberately engaged in an act of deception. However, the injured parties (students) need to file the lawsuit with the public prosecutor. When I told the students about it, they got upset, and they intend to take legal action against UOB. The financial and administrative oversight authority also decided to look into that claim and to take measures after our meeting with them. Our most important meeting was with the head of private colleges and universities at the ministry of higher education in Muscat. He promised to investigate and do something about it. We also learned from the Oman Academic Accreditation Authority that UOB will be considered for accreditation three years from now.

The most important lesson we have learned from this experience is that UOB has managed to get away with everything because nobody has bothered to take a stand against it so far, apart from us. It is hoped that our efforts will bear fruit and the authorities will step in and redress the balance.

Conclusion

A colleague of mine once told me that this is a money-laundering scheme, but I see it as an act of theft of public wealth where money from the public coffers ends up in private pockets. The main owners in the board of trustees, one of whom is also the owner of Buraimi university college, another dubious college, make huge profits with very little startup costs: rent a place, get a permit, get the ministry of higher education to send students, get the accreditation body in Oman to give you unmerited accreditation, and keep going.

I really feel sorry for the students who are cheated out of their education. It is partly for them that I took the time to write this in the hope that the authorities in Oman will read it and decide to do something about it. The best way out of this mess is to make the ‘university’ public and then it will serve the students who are seen as “customers” as the profile of the boondoggle proudly proclaims. Currently, the students are serving the ‘university’. I just hope that this academic dystopia is an exception to the rule in Oman, but I find it deeply troubling that such a make-believe ‘university’ was even allowed to last four almost five years. There is only one possible explanation as to how such caricature of universities are allowed to carry on their chicanery: WASATA, which basically means connection (who you know). Unfortunately, you can get away with a lot if you happen to know the right people.

I also wrote this expose to tell those who might stumble upon an ad for vacant positions at this boondoggle to ignore the ad and look for somewhere else if they care about their psychological wellbeing and personal integrity. By far, the worst thing that an experience in such a place does to teachers is that it makes them bitter cynics as they find themselves compelled to compromise their integrity. Cynicism becomes a coping mechanism to remain sane in a situation that relentlessly deprives them of the opportunity to feel that they are doing something worthwhile. A few of my colleagues have decided to go for a PhD in order to reduce the likelihood of ever ending up in places like the boondoggle, and when they do, they can always walk out as I did.

List of teaching staff that have resigned in the spring semester of 2014

1- Anes A (Sudan)
2- F(Tunisia)
3- M(US)
4- D(US)
5- S (Morocco)
6- D (Iraq)
7- M (Australia)
8- A (US)

List of teaching staff arbitrarily fired during Fall semester of 2014
1- C (Greece)
2- R(US)

(MOD edits to remove names)
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omanoman



Joined: 11 Jun 2014
Posts: 69

PostPosted: Sun Jul 13, 2014 6:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

wow, sounds terrible. Good that you took some action and went to available authorities to at least try to promote some change.

Especially in the case of labor law / contractual violations, the manpower mediation offices are helpful, in my experience.

Good luck on the next position
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madrileno



Joined: 19 Aug 2010
Posts: 146
Location: Oman

PostPosted: Sun Jul 13, 2014 7:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

UoB is still engulfed in chaos and incompetence? What a surprise! Rolling Eyes

I remember all the threads on here last year from outgoing teachers warning prospective applicants of the place. Seems like quite a few teachers chose to ignore these warnings and sadly suffered for it.

Hopefully teachers considering UoB this time around won't make the same mistakes.
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CANDLES



Joined: 01 Nov 2011
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 17, 2014 12:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Some of us did actually protest about this fiasco of a university, but some teachers (who are still there) thought that everything was fine (SA/Canadian etc). Those teachers would grovel, spy and generally malign the rest of us to stay in the 'good' books of the 'powers to be'! Wasters!

Most of us left, but the irony is that the 'top' people are still there raking in the baksheesh and enjoy going off to Al-Ain, Dubai everyday to get drunk and various other pleasures whilst still retaining their jobs.

Education! What education? Students will eventually relocate to Muscat or go over across the border to get better education, than get a worthless piece of paper from UOB.
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CVN-76



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PostPosted: Sat Jul 19, 2014 6:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

CANDLES wrote:
Some of us did actually protest about this fiasco of a university, but some teachers (who are still there) thought that everything was fine (SA/Canadian etc). Those teachers would grovel, spy and generally malign the rest of us to stay in the 'good' books of the 'powers to be'! Wasters!

Most of us left...



Entrenched teachers causing trouble again?

Emphasis on 'most' left.
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CANDLES



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PostPosted: Sat Jul 19, 2014 10:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

"Most" of us, except for 'some'.
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CVN-76



Joined: 28 Mar 2014
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 20, 2014 5:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm glad I left the entire middle east in the....sand. Reading the testimonies here about what it's like and what is to come reminds me of why I was in a hurry to get out of there.
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CANDLES



Joined: 01 Nov 2011
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 20, 2014 6:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Actually Middle East is a 'nice' place, if you can adjust accordingly. Very Happy
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a.anas



Joined: 24 Jun 2014
Posts: 21
Location: Sudan

PostPosted: Sun Jul 20, 2014 7:34 pm    Post subject: The gulf is not really interested in genuine academia Reply with quote

It is a pretty safe bet that academic institutions in the gulf are more or less similar to UOB in that what matters is keeping up the appearance of a university. I was looking up the American University of the Middle East when i came across this blog http://aumstory13.blogspot.com/ and i was immediately struck by the fact that the description fits the UOB as well.

I find the Gulf intellectually, professionally and ethically degrading because it can offer nothing aside from the paycheck, which in most case is not satisfactory either.
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CANDLES



Joined: 01 Nov 2011
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Location: Wandering aimlessly.....

PostPosted: Sun Jul 20, 2014 10:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bit harsh analysis bordering on snobbery I fear!

As a Phd graduate surely you should know that many Arab intellectuals and others are happily based in the Middle East and are comfortable with the status quo. If they need to do research they leave for other countries to do so and vice versa from the West.

Lastly if you are so completely sickened by the whole Middle East/UOB/Buraimi scenario, will you be leaving soon or is a court case pending? I ask out of interest and not sarcasm!
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a.anas



Joined: 24 Jun 2014
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Location: Sudan

PostPosted: Mon Jul 21, 2014 6:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Having experienced teaching in Oman, which is seen as the best of the Gulf, and having spoken with many teachers who have taught in many academic institutions in the Gulf, I would say unfortunately, my assessment regarding universities and colleges in the Gulf appears to be harsh but true. you could say that it is too much of a sweeping generalization to be true of every academic institution in the Gulf, but I don't think it is an act of snobbery to try to reflect a general perception backed by overwhelming evidence. just check out the ranking of these institutions and you will get a sense of what they are like, intellectually and professionally. In fact, eslcafe postings tell the same story.

I resigned and left Oman nine months after joining UOB. I guess I needed to go through this experience to make me realize that I don't need to go through such experiences again.
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CANDLES



Joined: 01 Nov 2011
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Location: Wandering aimlessly.....

PostPosted: Mon Jul 21, 2014 10:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Noted!

As for ranking, I'm afraid that to me is snobbery. In UK we had Polytechnics that became Universities and they and the students are looked down upon by the 'established brown stone' structures, because 'gowns' were not worn during lectures and most of the students were either working part time or mature students.

Oman is still finding its feet in the educational world and so therefore, still has many kinks to sort out. Fantastic place though!
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nomad soul



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PostPosted: Mon Jul 21, 2014 12:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

a.anas wrote:
My assessment regarding universities and colleges in the Gulf appears to be harsh but true. you could say that it is too much of a sweeping generalization to be true of every academic institution in the Gulf, but I don't think it is an act of snobbery to try to reflect a general perception backed by overwhelming evidence. just check out the ranking of these institutions and you will get a sense of what they are like, intellectually and professionally. In fact, eslcafe postings tell the same story.

You're right; it's not snobbery. It's pure ethnocentrism, which seems to be pervasive throughout these Mid East forums.

CANDLES wrote:
As for ranking, I'm afraid that to me is snobbery. In UK we had Polytechnics that became Universities and they and the students are looked down upon by the 'established brown stone' structures, because 'gowns' were not worn during lectures and most of the students were either working part time or mature students.

Oman is still finding its feet in the educational world and so therefore, still has many kinks to sort out.

Right on, Candles; I was thinking the exact same thing. Lest we forget the higher ed systems of the US and UK have been around for centuries. On the other hand, higher learning in Oman and the other GCC are essentially still trying to gain an identity and standing while attempting to catch up with the rest of this technology-driven, globally-connected world. They shouldn't be compared to the same standards of long-established universities in developed, western countries.

Consider the following list of the oldest (non-religious) universities by country:
    Saudi Arabia: King Saud University, founded in 1957
    Kuwait: Kuwait University, founded in 1966
    Bahrain: Gulf Polytechnic (later merged into University of Bahrain), founded in 1968
    Qatar: Qatar University, founded in 1973
    UAE: United Arab Emirates University, founded in 1976
    Oman: Sultan Qaboos University, founded in 1986
By the way, the University of Buraimi first opened its doors just three and a half years ago. Not surprising, prior to the establishment of these universities, privileged students left home and headed to Egypt, Iraq, the Levant, Europe, or North America for their higher education.
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a.anas



Joined: 24 Jun 2014
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 21, 2014 2:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

What's ethnocentric about describing the reality of many 'academic' institutions in the gulf? as i said in the article, I have not seen a single teacher or student who is satisfied with UOB.

the problem is not that these institutions are young, but rather they seem to be on the wrong track as i detailed in my article and the people in charge are not willing to acknowledge these problems. I actually made this point when i was talking to some officials in UOB. i told them that when dealing with a problem, the first step is to recognize there is one.

they would have a long way to go if they were on the right track. But, as things stand now, they need to retrace their steps and put themselves on the right path of academia. cutting cost and cutting corners can get them nowhere but they can make lots of money.

Let me make one thing clear. I find Omani people quite friendly and hospitable and as i said in the article, it is for the students that i met with the ministry of higher education hoping that the ministry will intervene and make things better for them.
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 21, 2014 4:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

With all due respect a.anas, we are not talking about Omani nationals, but the institution eg UOB) run by an Iraqi/Jordanian & an Egyptian Dean who are so in love with their qualifications that they regard everyone else as plebs and imbeciles.

If one questions the running of the university or the day to day administration, then they get a 'chip on their shoulders', because they feel maligned. People like that have to be either booted out completely or downgraded and proper authorities have to take over to manage.

Yes, the students suffer, but as I said UOB is STILL in its infancy.
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