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ACADEMIC BRIDGE PROGRAM - QATAR FOUNDATION

 
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billboard



Joined: 19 Nov 2007
Posts: 6

PostPosted: Fri Nov 30, 2007 5:31 am    Post subject: ACADEMIC BRIDGE PROGRAM - QATAR FOUNDATION 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 heard the accomodation is bad - is this true? Someone said the apartments are very small and badly furnished. Is it true they are outside of the city? How long does it take to get to work?

Thanks for any info.
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billboard



Joined: 19 Nov 2007
Posts: 6

PostPosted: Fri Nov 30, 2007 11:26 am    Post subject: More questions Reply with quote

A few more questions. I hope someone out there can answer them.


- Contracts: how long are these? 1 year, 2 years, 3 years?
- Are the contracts automatically renewable?
- What are the criteria for renewal?
- Is there job security with the contracts?
- Are teachers allowed to go to conferences?
- What is the evaluation system like?
- Is there an action plan? (don't quite know what this is but saw it on a reply for another institution)
- What is the salary scale based on?
- Are teachers given financial credit for experience or does everyone earn the same amount?
- Is there a health insurance plan or is it the government system?
- Is there a play area for children in the compound?
- Is there an internal security system on the residential compounds?
- Does the educational allowance cover all schools in Qatar?
- Does the academic year begin in September or August?
- How many teachers work in the foundation program at ABP?


I hear that Qatar Foundation employs several hundred Americans. How are we viewed in Qatar? Positively or negatively?

Hope somebody replies. I would really like to know the answers to some of my questions.
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veiledsentiments



Joined: 20 Feb 2003
Posts: 15868
Location: USA

PostPosted: Fri Nov 30, 2007 3:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have had two friends teaching in the Academic Bridge Program. It is a very small program with just a handful of EFL teachers, so it doesn't hire many. The pay is better than average, as are the benefits.

I can't answer your specific questions, but I would apply to them without hesitation. A great gig if you can get it...

VS
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QatarChic



Joined: 06 May 2005
Posts: 445
Location: Qatar

PostPosted: Fri Nov 30, 2007 4:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

billboard I sent you a pm.
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billboard



Joined: 19 Nov 2007
Posts: 6

PostPosted: Sat Dec 01, 2007 4:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Qatarchic.

We're going to Qatar for the Eid and have been invited to tour Qatar Foundation premises. So we'll check out the place and take a look at the compound. Our friends work for Texas A&M so they'll show us around.

I suppose no comments mean things are not too bad. However, I heard the new director is difficult and stiff necked. Hope that's not true.

Anybody out there who can answer my questions about ABP?
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veiledsentiments



Joined: 20 Feb 2003
Posts: 15868
Location: USA

PostPosted: Sun Dec 02, 2007 3:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The common problem with a board like this is that we tend to hear mainly from those who had a bad experience. Add to that the fact that most of the employers like ABP and Texas A&M hire such a small number of EFL teachers in the first place.

So, no news here is often good news about an employer at university level. Cool

VS
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mesquite



Joined: 04 Jan 2009
Posts: 80

PostPosted: Fri Jan 09, 2009 5:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Definitely having problems at the moment. The program has gone through 6 directors in about 8 years. The current one is a martinet and rules with an iron fist. He deliberately got rid of the last acting director (too popular and too on the ball) by saying he wouldn't take the job if the AD stayed on. He made it a condition of his acceptance. Talk about professional blackmail!!! They wanted him badly because of his credentials (a supposed academic hotshot) so they agreed to his conditions. One teacher couldn't stand it, on the way to a nervous breakdown, so just quit at the end of the semester. The workload is heavy - 20 teaching hours per week, a lot of meetings. You have to stay on the premises, even if you are not teaching. The boss keeps his beady eyes on everybody. A lot of tension and pressure. One of the best teachers ever left because of this.

The housing is pretty bad - out of town and in huge compounds like Saudi. The apartments are very small and minimally furnished. The kitchens are tiny. However, the bigwigs get a villa but not the ABP staff unless they are in administration. The salaries are unequal, most people earning around 14 -16,000. The really bad part is you have to start working in the heat of the summer in mid August. Too hot and humid but that's the way it is.
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veiledsentiments



Joined: 20 Feb 2003
Posts: 15868
Location: USA

PostPosted: Fri Jan 09, 2009 5:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I will update my posts by mentioning that both of my friends who were there have departed... the first left because of personal family situation and the second left as a direct result of the upheaval and changes of the last year or so...

It's a shame... it was a good gig for the first few years in spite of the constant changes in management.

I would now advise against applying there.

VS
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wilberforce



Joined: 27 Dec 2008
Posts: 647

PostPosted: Fri Jan 09, 2009 6:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My buddy left last May. He was a good guy and a good teacher. Couldn't hack the way it was being run.

These places are all the same. If you get a bad character running the show, the whole place goes to pot.
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word_to_the_wise



Joined: 28 May 2007
Posts: 67
Location: Riyadh

PostPosted: Sat Jan 10, 2009 5:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

mesquite wrote:
The program has gone through 6 directors in about 8 years.


Says it all - avoid. Surprises me though.
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randytheringworm



Joined: 24 Apr 2006
Posts: 24

PostPosted: Sat Jan 10, 2009 9:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Many of the posters on this thread have painted a very misleading picture of the "ABP" (including some outright untruths) as if they have some personal ax to grind.

On the whole, my appraisal of the program, the director and the overall deal(housing, etc) is very positive, if the word of a ringworm can be credited.

PM me and I'll sing.

In any case, I would recommend coming here as long as you understand what living and working in the Gulf entails. This is one of the better situations.
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mesquite



Joined: 04 Jan 2009
Posts: 80

PostPosted: Mon Jan 12, 2009 2:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So what exactly is not true or misleading, randy?

1. That it's not hot and humid in mid August?
2. That we have to be back in mid August?
3. The salary range? This is what most people are earning. It's true some earn more. It all depends on the contract you signed and when you signed it. Some people with the same credentials & experience earn more/less than others. There is some salary disparity but negligible as far as I know. You may know more about salaries than most. Isn't it true most people don't want to talk about what they actually earn?
4. That ECCH is not out of town? It's true it's near the QF campus but far from everything else. There is only one supermarket nearby and not within walking distance. Not much else anywhere. It's a quiet local residential neighborhood. No taxis ever ply the main road so if you have a breakdown, unless someone gives you a ride, you're in trouble.
5. The apartments aren't small? They sure are, especially when compared to the bigger apartments staff used to live in when they were housed near Sports Roundabout. The apartments on the QF campus (now handed over to students) were very spacious and well furnished. They were much better than these poky ECCH apartment buildings with no elevators. Not to mention the fact that they're not very well soundproofed. Granted the compounds are quite nice with clubhouses, parks, greenery etc. If you're lucky enough to be in a villa, that's great but for the people who have to live in the apartments, it's abysmal. My grad student apartment was about the same size. Economizing is what it's all about.
6. That the furniture isn't minimalist? The rooms are so small that the furniture takes up most of the space.
7. That the apartment kitchens aren't tiny? My kitchen is a galley kitchen with barely enough room for 2 people. Maybe you have a larger model.
8. That the villas aren't for administration or more senior staff? How many ABP teachers are living in a villa? You need a big family to be eligible.
9. That one of the best teachers left last May because of the new administration?
10. That a teacher broke contract and left in December on the verge of a beakdown because of bullying?
11. That staff aren't being monitored and watched?
12. That we don't have to stay on the premises all day until 4.00?
13. That there aren't a lot of meetings? (Some of which are just rehash sessions.)
14. That there aren't 18-20 teaching hours?
15. That there isn't a lot of tension and pressure? Sometimes the atmosphere is thick with tension.
16. That there haven't been 6 directors since the place started (including one AD when Johnny unceremoniously left).
17. That the AD who was doing a good job and had had contract renewal wasn't asked to resign because the new boss specifically made the AD's departure a condition of his acceptance? The AD was in fact asked to resign but refused because of the contract.
18. That the AD got a very big severance package because ABP had to provide compensation since there was breach of contract?
19. That the boss isn't rigid? Isn't stiff-necked and hard-nosed?

So what isn't true? Keep on singing. There are many good things about ABP but having worked with a boss who respected our opinions to one who makes unilateral decisions has been a big adjustent for some.
One real positive point is the students, nice kids most of them. They are what makes the difference for me. I can't stand it when some people complain about them.
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veiledsentiments



Joined: 20 Feb 2003
Posts: 15868
Location: USA

PostPosted: Mon Jan 12, 2009 3:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

As I have watched the APB since it began, the biggest mystery has been the administration. It has truly been a revolving door, and I will confess that I knew one of them and recommended that a teacher friend take a job there because I knew him to be a good manager. I don't think he lasted much over a year. The teacher stayed because he liked the teaching and the students, but the last change at the top has brought problems as so often happens. Any time there is chaos at the top... with a seeming attempt to redirect the program... there will be some unhappy teachers who decide or are pushed to leave. And there is always tension when no one is sure what is going on, why, or what will happen. One of the disadvantages of a small place like this is that there is no privacy or anonymity.

The teaching and work hours are not unusual around the Gulf, but may be in Qatar. Is this new or did it come with the latest management? I also note that in the last year or so there are a lot more complaints about poky flats all over the ME boards. It appears that with the real estate crunch around the Gulf, teachers are no longer going to get the spacious places that we used to get. I have never worked anywhere that the management didn't get the villas while all the teachers got flats - unless they took the allowance and found their own place. Are you single/married w/o kids and expect to get a villa, mesquite? I'm afraid that doesn't happen much any more.

If the history of this place is any guide, I expect that in a year or so there will be new managers and then maybe it will do a positive swing again. It appears to require teachers who can ignore any chaos swirling at the top and just teach their classes. It sounds like you also need to work on your sleeping with your eyes open skills to get through the meetings. Laughing

It seems that Randy and Mesquite are in adjoining offices? Two teachers and two opinions... so it goes.

VS
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randytheringworm



Joined: 24 Apr 2006
Posts: 24

PostPosted: Sat Jan 17, 2009 3:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

1. That it's not hot and humid in mid August?
2. That we have to be back in mid August?

Boo hoo hoo-- this is the Middle East, matey! As young people say, suck it up(~deal with it).

4. That ECCH is not out of town?

It was disingenuous to mention that without also mentioning that the campus is also out of town, a 5-10 minute drive from the accomodation.

9. That one of the best teachers left last May because of the new administration?
10. That a teacher broke contract and left in December on the verge of a beakdown because of bullying?


I am willing to concede that you may have access to information that isn't openly given out. However, for # 10,I had never heard that before.

12. That we don't have to stay on the premises all day until 4.00?
14. That there aren't 18-20 teaching hours?

Both untrue. Contact hours are ~15 per week, last year as low as 12. Teaching staff have to teach their classes, keep office hours, and do an hour's tutoring.

16. That there haven't been 6 directors since the place started (including one AD when Johnny unceremoniously left).
So? The current director is on year two and will probably be back next year as well. This is an improvement. And J.A. left because they refused to make him Director after being Acting Director for a year. Good for him.

17. That the AD who was doing a good job ...
19. That the boss isn't rigid? Isn't stiff-necked and hard-nosed?

These are subjective assessments. How, for example, would one go about disproving #19?
I have no opinion on the AD myself, but reviews were mixed.
My equally subjective assessment of the current director is that he's approachable, works hard, and is doing a good job.
One thing that is true is that discontinuing the ABP is no longer on the table of possible options since the current director took over.

18. That the AD got a very big severance package because ABP had to provide compensation since there was breach of contract?
Good for her, and good for QF for honoring the contract. If QF terminated her w/o notice, and then accordingly paid her out for the rest of the year, that would be the exact opposite of breach of contract, wouldn't it? (Any contract worth its salt should spell out what has to happen if either party is unable to fulfill its engagements.) In any case, not really relevant to the point you're trying to make.

11. That staff aren't being monitored and watched?
Isn't that the prerogative of an employer? In teaching or any other job?

Again, I can't help feeling that you have some personal ax to grind , and that you're stitching together a jerrybuilt case from the heterogenous materials at hand. Apologies for being blunt (and for mixing my metaphors).
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