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Qatar University - some questions?

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Joined: 19 Nov 2007
Posts: 6

PostPosted: Fri Nov 30, 2007 5:28 am    Post subject: Qatar University - some questions? Reply with quote

May be moving to Qatar with my spouse so I'd like some information on the following:

- teaching hours how many?
- how many office hours? what are the obligations?
- do teachers get to choose their shift or is it arbitrarily decided for them?
- holidays- how many days in summer?
- is there a midyear break? when? how long?
- semester start? When does the program begin/end?
- school fees - how many children does it cover? Is it enough?
- transportation allowance? Is there one? How much?
- health insurance program or government health clinics?
- management - flexible or inflexible?
- classrooms - what kind of equipment?
- IT- what kind of support?
Who gets a villa? Married or single or both?
- Is water and electricity covered?
- Faculty support - is there any?

I've been reading about the accomodation? Is it still so bad?

Thanks for any info.
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Joined: 10 Nov 2006
Posts: 93

PostPosted: Fri Nov 30, 2007 6:44 am    Post subject: latest ups n' downs Reply with quote

Hey there billboard - my advice - apply -ya got nuttin ta lose and it's no worse than a lotta other joints in the region - better than some!!!

Latest Uppers:

1. lots of good newbies hired
2. more moolah - lots of overtime and P-T work if ya want it
3. Al Zuhoor gardens improved - entrance finally fixed - health club & pool in op - not great but OK
4. best place to live still Al Gharffa - better furniture too - hard to get in
5. roadworks around Al Waab finished
6. Mr Fix-it back
7. new admin assistant -seems to know what he's doin
8. lotsa newbies happy with the status quo
9. four office hours/week - not a problem
10. internal advertising of some management positions
11. newbies got good orientation thanks to hardworking crew
12. fewer people in the fire to hire agenda
13. helpful colleagues
14. IT support good but more staff needed
15. good colleagues but watch out for some of em (book licker & self promotor types)
16. overtime TOEFL classes
17. IELTS training

Latest downers

1. school fees only cover about 2 kids but not enough
2. shift work - morning & afternoon - ya can ask for yer choice but that don't mean ya get it - some people didn't get what they wanted & tried to switch - the boss said no (really into Control with a capital C) - wouldn't budge
3. no negotiation policy in full force (unless you're in with the 'in' crowd)
no concessions for special situations unless yer a favo!)
4. teaching load back up from 16 hours to 18 hours now - way too much!
5. campus is a construction site - takes ages to walk around from building to building
6. some really good staff fired (who knows why they don't even know the real reason - usual crap excuses - bad scene!!!)
7. too much shifting & shafting of level supervisors: preselection of level supervisor positions despite advertising - i.e. 8. some upper positions not advertised (i.e. favoritism still in operation - boot lickin...)
shaftin of some good people - who knows why? lotta behind the scenes confos - watch out...
8. QU does not pay water and electricity -out of yer own pocket & bills can be pretty hefty in summer - so if yer into savin -don't go for a villa!!!
9. government health clinics - take yer chances
10. tricky trio still in charge - some shifting but still the same big 3
11. spymaster & crew still in operation so keep an eye out
12. unilateral decision making at the top - no negotiation!!
13. curriculum - needs a lot of work - too many boring books & overkill
14. some classrooms in bad shape - newer buildings OK
15. committee work overload
16. evaluation & assessment overload, especially for newbies
17. student evaluations - students have too much input - don't trust 'em
they use the teacher evaluation form for payback
18. LC too small but heard they're workin on it
19. portfolio system - way too much!!!!
20. action plan - overkill
21. TOEFL exam - major obstacle for students

Hey bilboard why not go for it? May as well apply. Really an OK place to work - as long as they keep on fixin what's wrong but ya still need to watch yer back - ya never know who's lurkin round the corner!!

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Joined: 19 Nov 2007
Posts: 6

PostPosted: Fri Nov 30, 2007 11:06 am    Post subject: more questions Reply with quote

Thanks Thursday12. Makes the picture clearer. I am interested in answering the ad but I have just a few more questions:

- Exactly when does the semester start? August or September?
- What is an 'action plan'?
- Do any of these residential compounds have a play area for children?
- Is there a compound security system? (We've been living in Saudi so this is very important to us.)

- Contracts - I've read some strange comments about contracts in some of the threads- could you explain what these mean?

3 year contract (is this a renewable contract?)
1 year contract (is this an ongoing or a yearly renewable contract?)
1 year (non??? renewable contract) I didn't quite understand this one
rolling contract? what is this? I've never heard of this kind of contract.

What are the criteria for these renewals? Is there a time limit? Most places I've worked in have an unlimited contract system but I don't get that impression from what I've read.

I find the contract system confusing - what is the actual situation about contract renewal? What is this fire to hire policy? Does this mean a certain number of people are fired every year? Is this a university policy or just an internal decision?

What about the actual job security situation? It sounds like there is a lot of job insecurity. What is the reality? Do teachers have contract assurances? Some of the stuff I've read about the contract situation is disturbing.

Are teachers regularly renewed? On what basis? The evaluation system sounds pretty problematic - is this what renewal is based on? I'd appreciate a clearer picture if you can give one. The job advertisement is not too clear on certain things.

Is there a salary scale? Or does everybody earn the same amount of money? I know most places give credit for experience but somebody told me that QU doesn't recognize experience and that a teacher with one year of teaching experience earns the same as a teacher with 10. Is this the case? If so, what is the basis for this?

I am concerned about job security as it is a priority for me.
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Joined: 26 Nov 2006
Posts: 55

PostPosted: Fri Nov 30, 2007 1:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good to see you back, Thursday!

Contracts at QU are standard 3-year renewable contracts and the first year is a probation period, pending evaluation + observation and so on. There have been some strange firings, it is true. To answer your questions:

- The fall semester starts in September.
- The Zuhoor compound does have a - limited - playground.
- There are "security" guards at the compounds.
- An action plan is just a list of actions to be taken in order to complete goals previously established and also states who does what.
- There is no real job security as the contract does not guarantee you will be retained for its duration. In other words, you could be terminated at any time. It is really only binding for you, in the sense that, should you choose to leave early, you may be penalized for not finishing your contract (gratuity, flights home, etc. may be reduced or not given)
- To my knowledge, it is true that experience does not make a big difference in starting salary at QU. PhD vs. MA does, a little...

Good luck!
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Joined: 20 Feb 2003
Posts: 17566
Location: USA

PostPosted: Fri Nov 30, 2007 3:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think it is important to point out that the vast majority of the negatives listed by Thursday12 are the same in almost every educational institution in the Gulf to varying degrees. SOP... Laughing

From what I saw over the years, management issues will always be there to a degree that tends to vary over the years - turnover in management is also high. There will never be true job security... every contract has a clause whereby the employer can get rid of you for any reason they want whenever they want. In most cases if you are terminated, you won't really know why - but they still tend to send you off with a glowing letter of recommendation. (which is why the teachers with extreme problems keep circulating for years around the Gulf). That said, in most places the majority are renewed, but there are no guarantees that you will be in that group.

Teaching hours around the Gulf universities are in the 15-22 hour a week range. It used to be that most were at the low end of that scale, but the number has been creeping up over the last few years.

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Joined: 10 Nov 2006
Posts: 93

PostPosted: Sat Dec 01, 2007 8:47 am    Post subject: contracts Reply with quote

There are 2 types of contracts - definite lack of transparency about these
would really help if people were told what's what about renewal. Causes a lot of stress.... Lines of communication pretty unclear. Another problem for Mr Fix-it to solve....

Sorry TC - there are 2 types of contracts from what I've heard. Heard some Gharffa types talkin about 'em ...

Newbies (from 2004 & 2005 and so on ....

-3 year contract (including 1 year probation)
-this can be renewed for another 3 years or can be renewed fo 1 year only or termination (heard of 1 termination of a newbie who completed 3 years)
- all newbies will get a 3 year contract if they make it thru probation
so this can be renewed for another 3 years, 1 year or not at all - reasons not clearly explained.
-1 newbie on probation just got terminated - no idea why.

Oldies (from whenever)

- 1 year contract (introduced last year)
- 2 types of 1 year contract: renewable (ya get 1 more year) & nonrenewable (adios)
- the word is some people who got a 1 year last year just got terminated.
don't know anything bout that but that's what I heard.

- some people who got the 1 year last year have 1 more year - know of one dude who is really relieved to have another year ...

Rolling contract

Who knows what this is?

So to answer yer question billboard - is there job security? Like VS said there is really no job security anywhere in this part of the world

In a nutshell - it all depends... depends on what I'm not too sure but sure depends on something.

By the way, if I waz you, I wouldn't ask any more questions. Did ya read what happened to poor ole celtababe? Even so, I'd apply if I waz you.
Not a bad place when all's said and done - seen better - seen worse.
Like I said, most newbies seem to be pretty satisfied with the status quo.
The dudes who have really got it ruff are the oldies. Whatever that's all about is a big mystery.

Go on apply, ya got nuttin ta lose and ya may like it here. At least Al Zuhoor is close to some expat schools so that's not too bad if ya got kids.
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Joined: 26 Nov 2006
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 01, 2007 11:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You're right, Thursday. I was only describinig the kind of contract that Billboard would get as a new hire.

As you also pointed out, the evaluatoin process here is grueling...

Never heard of a rolling contract either!

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Joined: 19 Nov 2007
Posts: 6

PostPosted: Sat Dec 01, 2007 4:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks thursday12. I hear you but you sound kind of paranoid.

Just 2 more questions -

- class size- how many students in each class?

- how many teachers work in the English department?

That's it. Most of my questions have been answered so I now have a better idea of some things but would need to see the place for myself.

We're coming to Qatar for the Eid (invitation from our friends who work there) so we'll check out the campus then if we can. Where is this Al Zuhoor place? Is it on a map of Qatar?

Thanks a million.
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Joined: 09 Nov 2007
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 01, 2007 5:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

setting the record straight:
The axeman cometh yet again. The annual purge is over. It's too bad to hear about my excolleagues who got fired. I feel for them. I went through that sh-te last year and it's no fun.

So the teachers who got one year have to live through another year of misery. What the firings all boil down to is personal. The name of the game is punishment not conflict resolution. Some people just enjoy'punishing' others. I don't understand why but that's just the way it is.

Just two or three people at the top (tricky trio - a good name for the gang of 3) make the decisions. The teachers deserve better than this. I am happy for those teachers who got a 3 year contract. That's great. I suppose it's a temporary relief for the others to get a one year contract but they still have to wait another year to find out if they will be renewed or not. Rather a nasty thing to do to people. Putting them through the mill again for another 365 days. It's an insult - telling them they're not good enough but they can hang around another year. Guilt trip? Some of the guys at the top are not good enough themselves but they've managed to cover up their mistakes. Interesting how a 70 year old teacher makes it over the hump and gets renewed. (Plays the game.)
So much for the excuse of being too old.

If the people at the top could get over their complexes and act professionally, things would be a lot better. The people who make the decisions have very little experience- only gained when they were promoted to management positions at QU. I don't think this really qualifies any of them to make major decisions about termination or renewal. But that's the way it goes. You have to play the game - if you don't know the rules, you'll be out on your butt. That's what happened to me. I didn't know I was supposed to be playing a game but I found that out much later, after being fired. I thought the name of the game in a university was 'teaching' but it wasn't. I was punished for something I did. I just don't know what and probably the others don't either. At least it sounds like this year there was an attempt to give some people a second chance. I hope this is a real chance and I hope these guys won't be in the line of fire next year.

Now that I'm working in a professionally run place, I see the difference.
The people I work with are all trained pros. What a relief to work with people who know how to manage a big department. Everything runs like clockwork. Got a problem - see the boss - he'll sort it out. Great personality too. I miss Qatar but I don't miss QU -not anymore. My bitterness is starting to subside.
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Joined: 20 Feb 2003
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Location: USA

PostPosted: Sun Dec 02, 2007 3:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I got an email from a friend there and she said that she had only heard about 3 or 4 teachers getting cut. Sad, of course, for those people if they didn't want to leave, but that is a phenomenally small number in a department that has well over 100 teachers.

A number of employers are finally starting to inform 'non-renewed' people before the end of the year. That gives people a chance to apply for new jobs early. I'd have to give QU credit for implementing such a policy.

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