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Curious about UGRU at UAE University
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Abunice



Joined: 19 Mar 2004
Posts: 9
Location: Amman

PostPosted: Fri Mar 19, 2004 7:18 pm    Post subject: Curious about UGRU at UAE University Reply with quote

I'm considering to apply for a job at UGRU, but have heard bizarre stories about the turnover rate in some sections, the work environment and the housing. I realize that no job is perfect, but can anybody provide a clearer picture of the morale and conditions currently?
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nowasta



Joined: 16 Mar 2003
Posts: 74
Location: uranus

PostPosted: Sat Mar 20, 2004 8:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rumour has it that a bunch of people were recently let go (30-40??). I am also curious about this as I haven't heard from anyone there specifically.
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Abunice



Joined: 19 Mar 2004
Posts: 9
Location: Amman

PostPosted: Sat Mar 20, 2004 9:19 am    Post subject: reply to nowasta Reply with quote

A friend who works there told me that a lot of Maths teachers were let go. One Maths teacher apparently was told to sign his renewal letter on a Tuesday. When he went to sign, he was told his letter had been misplaced and that he should check back later. When he checked back on early Wednesday afternoon, the next day, he was told he was too late. So, instead he had a termination letter.
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tefllifer



Joined: 13 Jun 2003
Posts: 81

PostPosted: Sun Mar 21, 2004 7:10 pm    Post subject: uaeu/ugru Reply with quote

Rumours really get out of hand over here in the Middle East.
Last year at UAE the Arabic section was more or less dissolved with no warning for teachers. This year, some Math teachers were terminated - not sure what the rationale was - was it nationality or non-cooperation or what - not sure. In the Eng (and I use this as an umbrella term) dept a few, less than one hand's worth were not renewed - but when you consider that there are now probably 160 or more teachers there, this is not a great percentage.
Housing varies at UAEU - but usually singles/couples w/out kids would get a 2 bed, 2 bath appt., and a family would get a larger place - standard generally good - maintenanace problems, maybe, but hey, what's new.
Work environment - what do you mean - lots of great people work at UAEU - admin is often beyond the control of the UGRU-based coordinators - long hols, good money - good benefits - some BS - but hey what's new again!
Job satisfaction - well that depends on you and how you work things out - students can be sweet or difficult - changes from term to term - curriculum is under constant scrutiny - some very sincere people are working to make things better for all - sometimes they suceed, sometimes they don't.
Morale - well, it depends which section you are in and who you mix with and on your own attitude.
No, it's not the perfect job and it has drawbacks - but the deal is good - lifestyle is good - and if you want to be in the UAE, then UGRU is a good place to be.
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scot47



Joined: 10 Jan 2003
Posts: 12304
Location: Ultima Thule

PostPosted: Sun Mar 21, 2004 7:29 pm    Post subject: ugru Reply with quote

I visited friends who were working at UGRU a while back. Looked good to me !
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Abunice



Joined: 19 Mar 2004
Posts: 9
Location: Amman

PostPosted: Sun Mar 21, 2004 9:27 pm    Post subject: Thanx for the inputs Reply with quote

It's refreshing to read about experiences that are so very different from the ones I've heard. For example, an intimidating / bullying work atmosphere, the kind of place where a teacher needs to keep a very low profile to survive. But from your descriptions, UGRU sounds like a place that teachers don't like to resign from. Maybe I should give it a shot.
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cornishmaid



Joined: 02 Feb 2003
Posts: 5

PostPosted: Mon Mar 22, 2004 2:26 pm    Post subject: ugru English / uaeu Reply with quote

Tefllifer says 'in the Eng (and I use this as an umbrella term) dept a few - less than one hand's worth were not renewed'. I assume that the umbrella refers to the fact that there are teachers working on different programs and in different departments within UGRU, but all teaching English. In some parts of UGRU where people are teaching English, nobody was terminated. In others there were more than the usual number of non renewals, including teachers who were asked to leave in mid-contract, and who were told that the reasons were nothing to do with their teaching or behavior in the classroom. The number of non renewals and terminations was higher in UGRU this year than in any year in the recent past (excluding last year when most of the Arabic teachers were not renewed), and you would need certainly need a lot more than 5 fingers to count them, if you include all UGRU departments.

Abunice says 'UGRU sounds like the kind of place that teachers don't like to resign from'. Some teachers have resigned this year because they no longer feel comfortable there, and other teachers who are not happy will be reluctant to post on this forum because in fact it is the kind of place where 'a teacher needs to keep a very low profile to survive', to quote Abunice once more.

There will always be teachers in UGRU, as anywhere, who are happy to stay and not rock the boat. They have their reasons for doing so. Others have very good reasons for being unhappy with the current situation in some parts of UGRU, but who may have decided to stay on for a variety of practical reasons, perhaps hopefully waiting for things to get better. Some of the UGRU English programs are constantly in a state of change. The philosophy seems to be if we change it, and if it's new, then it must be better. If something is considered to be better for administrative reasons, for example, that doesn't always mean it's better for the students.

I agree that some very sincere people are working in UGRU to try to improve things. However, many of these sincere people are also anxious to keep a low profile in order to survive. There are worse jobs in the UAE, from what I've heard. As long as you're prepared to refrain from expressing any strong opinions, some programs where UGRU teachers work are not bad places to be. Others are not so great at the moment. The holidays are long, and the salary is OK.
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well-travelled



Joined: 19 Mar 2003
Posts: 97

PostPosted: Tue Mar 23, 2004 5:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sounds like most other places in the UAE (& the rest of the Middle East?) to me.

Quote:
The philosophy seems to be if we change it, and if it's new, then it must be better.


Which seems to be the prevalent philosophy here - for a number of reasons - and which I find very depressing from a professional (& educationally humanistic) standpoint.

well-travelled
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Gnocchiman



Joined: 23 Mar 2004
Posts: 68
Location: Limbo

PostPosted: Wed Mar 24, 2004 2:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

When you talk to teachers who have been at UGRU for more than 5 years, most will tell you that the changes have been for the best in the long run. They now have a curriculum that not only links all 4 English levels in a sensible way, but also links the program with the other programs represented at UGRU (Arabic, IT, Maths).
The changes to entrance requirements has slowy raised the quality of students that UGRU is now getting (translation: having an Emirati passport no longer entitles one to a university degree).
I don't know any teacher/human being who likes too much change-but when it benefits the students and teachers (like at UGRU) in the long run, I think it's worth it.
All in all, you'll find that most teachers in the English progam at UGRU are fairly content with their jobs.
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tefllifer



Joined: 13 Jun 2003
Posts: 81

PostPosted: Wed Mar 24, 2004 5:37 pm    Post subject: curious about UAEU and UGRU Reply with quote

Hello,
Cornishmaid - sorry for themisunderstanding - my umbrella term related to English UGRU depts - i.e., Eng, Skills and ESP - I heard only about 6 people (oh - that's more than one hand) were terminated. Guess we have to be careful talking about UAEU as to what's related to English programs and what relates to Math, Computing and Arabic.
Scary thing is that I understand that the folk were terminated for non-teaching reasons...
Gnocchiman - UGRU people are content? Not sure - some have compromised too much - some just find their own ways of dealing with things - some have to stay for personal/finanacial reasons, some like the money, others like the lifestyle.
As for changes being for the better - well, there is more control over staff than years ago - is that a good thing? There is far less freedom, too. Everything goes in circles at UGRU - so maybe you think the curriculum is better this year - so, just wait till next year!
Er - 4 levels of English? Thought there were only 3 and then ESP/Skills - guess you've bought into the UGRU-isation of ESP.
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Truth Hurts



Joined: 05 Jul 2003
Posts: 115
Location: Truthville

PostPosted: Fri Mar 26, 2004 10:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

A few quick questions:

Is UGRU still hiring?
What would be a typical starting salary?
What's the interview like? Who's on the panel?
How soon do they get back to you?

Any info would be much appreciated. Smile

TH
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Gnocchiman



Joined: 23 Mar 2004
Posts: 68
Location: Limbo

PostPosted: Fri Mar 26, 2004 11:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Abunice- 6 people were let go this year out of 180 English teachers. Why were they let go? I really can't say since I'm not a member of administration. Seems like a pretty reasonable number to me. And yes, there are some people who are leaving this year. Their reasons for leaving are varied. Of the people I know who are going, most are simply returning home after being here for many years and are not leaving out of frustration. It is the nature of our profession to do this, isn't it?
Less freedom???? Hmmmm..... is this in reference to the fact that we are now expected to actually work the 6 hours per day (4 on Wednesday or every other Wednesday depending on our schedules) that our contract says we do (4 contact hours)? Or is it that there is a curriculum we now have to follow?
Finally, the low turn over rate at UGRU does imply that teachers are, as I said before, fairly content with their jobs. Is UGRU perfect? No, of course not-it's a job after all. But it is a pretty good job if you can get it (my humble opinion).
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Gnocchiman



Joined: 23 Mar 2004
Posts: 68
Location: Limbo

PostPosted: Fri Mar 26, 2004 11:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

4 levels of English- sorry, I was including Fundamentals as a level (never even thought of ESP)-- Confused
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Abunice



Joined: 19 Mar 2004
Posts: 9
Location: Amman

PostPosted: Sat Mar 27, 2004 8:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

While it's great to read about positive curriculum development developments, as a teacher / trainer I'm more concerned with how staff is treated at work, day to day, as I mentioned in my original posting.

I'm the kind of person who values a healthy working environment over a high salary, longer but happier hours over shorter but miserabler ones.

So when I consider different job possibilities, not just UAEU, I try to find the answers to questions like these:

Is a teacher who asks "Why?" or "Why not?" seen as a troublemaker or a problem identifier?

Is teacher input encouraged and facilitated or are teachers told to zip their mouths and mind their place?

Does the work environment encourage managers and teachers to be more concerned with covering up their mistakes or with learning from them?

Does the manager work with his staff as a team so that everyone benefits / grows / succeeds or is it a top-down, management vs staff environment?

Is management respected or feared?

Are teachers fired for professional reasons or because they had a disagreement with someone in personnel or housing?

Are policies and procedures clear as crystal or as clear as mud?

Are teachers treated with respect or do they continually have to look over their backs to see if someone is trying to stab them?

I have worked in both kinds of environments and clearly have my preferences. No perfect jobs but some jobs are closer to perfection than others and I want to get one of those jobs.

Just trying to sift through the shaft, or whatever that expression is, to separate fact from fiction about the work environment at UGRU.
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Gnocchiman



Joined: 23 Mar 2004
Posts: 68
Location: Limbo

PostPosted: Sun Mar 28, 2004 3:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Abunice, you've asked some excellent questions. These are pretty much the same questions I asked before coming to work for UGRU three years ago. Before coming here, I had been stung by some very unhealthy work environments and was even thinking of getting out of education altogether. For me, this place was a godsend. It renewed my faith in the profession and has done so repeatedly over the years.

Every workplace has its politics and, as you know, here in the ME it sometimes takes a while to figure them out (I guess it does everywhere). But, I can honestly say that the biggest problems at UGRU I've had are the day to day variety. Little frustrations that are related to what's going on in the classroom or in my committee work. I do not live in fear that someone is going to stab me in the back. I have never feared administration as they have always treated me as the professional I am. That said, as a professional, I'm always "cautious" of what I say, how I say it and who I say it to- that's just good politics anywhere one works and is true at UGRU, too.

The 6 firings this year in the English department were unsettling, as firings always are. The interesting side to it is that it was unsettling since it was the first time since 2000 that so "many" people were let go all at once( 5 people were let at that time). I don't know the people who didn't get their contracts renewed personally (there are 180 of us, after all) and honestly don't know the reasons behind their termination. If the rumor is true about the housing argument-then all I can say is that anyone who has spent more than a month in the ME knows it's not a good idea to scream threats at someone who might have wasta.

I hope I've answered some of your questions. I just have to say that for me, UGRU has been a professiol environment that has been very very satisfactory. It's a place that I've been able to make professional contributions to and encouraged to do so. Like every workplace on the planet, it has its politics that have to be navigated-what's new? At the end of the day I really do return home feeling secure about my position there-much more important to me than the money or the holidays.


Oh, one more thing- imagine working with 180 experienced teachers who ALL have their Master's in some form of TESOL. They are truly an amazing group of people to work with!
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