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In the last few years, Qatar has emerged as Asia’s leading education hub and global center of learning. It is a direct result of its rising position as a destination of choice among overseas students seeking international quality education. The tiny Gulf nation is home to a number of international universities and academic institutions with best-in-class and diverse range of courses. The Government’s effort to enhance and improve the education sector is aligned with the goal of knowledge-driven economic development and growth.

For way too long, Qatar has been reliant on foreign workforce to stir it from an oil and gas-based economy to one that is more service and knowledge oriented. Recognising the changing dynamics, the country realizes that becoming an education hub will support its efforts to train and retain the large expatriate population of students as well as attract international students and workers from the region and beyond.

It has been almost a decade since the launch of the Qatar National Vision (QNV) 2030 development plan, providing the wealthy state with a blueprint of transformation and growth. The country has been one of the top advocates of the significance of education

Recently, in a high-level panel discussion organised by the Education Above All Foundation (EAA), in cooperation with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Geneva, HH Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, Chairperson of EAA and advocate for the UN Sustainable Development Goals, urged the global community to facilitate access to quality education for displaced children and to enforce severe penalties on perpetrators of armed conflict. She stated that “Education must be given priority as it is the tool for the children of the present and future.”

In line with the stated approach to prioritise education and ensuring quality education within the country, Qatar’ Ministry of Education and Higher Education outlined its Strategic Plan from 2017-2022, including development and expansion of early education and the promotion of attractive educational environment.

The most recent initiative taken by the Ministry of Education and Higher Education to promote quality education environment is designing a new Career Advising System (CAS), which is all set to be rolled out in the current academic session across public secondary schools in Qatar. The new CAS is a result of an MOU between Qatar Career Development Centre (QCDC), a member of Qatar Foundation (QF), and the Ministry of Education and Higher Education.

The new CAS is designed to cater to the futuristic needs emerging from Qatar’ social and economic environment. It is equipped with diverse and innovative components, as well as psychometric and personality assessment tools to help students identify the most appropriate academic and career paths in line with needs of the job market in the country.

Another major event, Career Guidance Stakeholders Platform 2018, was organised in line with Qatar Foundation’s efforts to promote career guidance in Qatar. The event, themed ‘Moving Operationally to Strategically Enhance Career Guidance in the State of Qatar’, was attended by 250 policy-makers, decision-makers and senior executives from various government institutions from Qatar and international organisations from the rest of the world at the Qatar National Convention Centre.

As stated by QCDC director, Abdulla al-Mansoori, “Nation-building requires a diverse set of competencies, skills, and jobs to ensure self-sufficiency when it comes to the local labour force required to bolster the state’s economy at present and in the future”. The initiatives to upgrade and direct talent in the country may be derived by Qatar’s ambition to become self-sufficient in the coming years to meet its workforce demand.

The innovation-driven approach highlighted in a recent event organised by HBKU’s College of Science and Engineering (CSE), entitled Qatar Towards a Smart Future, indicates that the move towards a knowledge-based economy is equally a strategic bend towards diversification of economy by becoming a major hub of quality education in the region.

 

All photos courtesy of HBKU

Graduation week began in Education City yesterday with commencement events for students from Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU) and Northwestern University in Qatar (NU-Q).

HBKU’s Class of 2017 included 148 grads, up 33 percent from last year’s cohort of 111 students.

The grads hail from 37 different countries, though many of them are from Qatar as well.

This year marked the first graduates to obtain master’s degrees from HBKU’s College of Science and Engineering. They were in Biological and Biomedical Sciences (BBS), Sustainable Energy and Sustainable Environment.

In addition to those 17 students, there were also:

  • 87 graduates from the College of Islamic Studies;
  • 18 from the College of Humanities and Social Sciences; and
  • 26 with an Executive Master in Energy and Resources.

Dream big

During the commencement, keynote speaker Chaker Khazaal, a Palestinian-Canadian author and editor-in-chief of StepFeed and YallaFeed, talked about dreaming big.

He said:

“An achievement is an idea once dreamt that turned into reality with hard work, persistence and redefining possibilities.

Today, you are ambassadors for the power of dreaming by becoming graduates and ambassadors for your university, for your country and for our region.”

Next year, HBKU will graduate its first batch of law students and the first students to receive doctoral degrees from the College of Science and Engineering.

NU-Q

Meanwhile, NU-Q celebrated its first graduation in its own building this year.

The journalism and communications school also produced its largest-ever class, of 47 graduates.

Reem Saad / Doha News

Northwestern University in Qatar

Students and staff moved into the new building, which took almost six years to complete, at the start of the winter semester.

It boasts three video production studios, a multimedia newsroom, a two-story research library, a black box theater, multiple editing rooms and even an in-house museum.

The 515,000 square foot, four-story facility was designed by famous American architect Antoine Predock and takes inspiration from Qatar’s “desert landscape.”

A total of 765 students will graduate from Qatar Foundation schools this week, including from Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar (45), Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar (57), Georgetown School of Foreign Service in Qatar (62), Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar (109), HEC Paris in Qatar (137) and University College London Qatar (34).

Thoughts?

QF/Facebook

QF Headquarters

Qatar Foundation is expected to lay off some 800 employees imminently, employees there have told Doha News.

The layoffs, which are apparently due to budgetary constraints, will apply “across the board” to QF staff based in Qatar.

This includes employees working in human resources, capital projects and other departments, people with knowledge of the layoffs said.

arwcheek / Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

While Hamad Bin Khalifa University staff would be included in this round of cuts, branch campuses of US universities and other schools in Education City will not be affected.

That’s because they operate independently and under pre-negotiated budgets with QF.

‘Increasing synergies’

When asked for comment about the layoffs, QF said in a statement to Doha News that it is working to improve efficiency and cut costs:

“Qatar Foundations’ focus of becoming a more efficient organization requires a culture of continuous improvement and, at this time, we are identifying ways to enhance our business operations in order to safeguard the future of our organization.

Therefore, as part of our enduring commitment to the sustainability of Qatar Foundation, we are working to drive our business forward, increasing synergies by enhancing collaboration across projects, as well as examining our existing operational costs.”

Speaking to Doha News, a former QF staffer said the layoffs should not come as a surprise to anyone, as the organization has been shedding staff and programs for some time.

QF Radio/Facebook

QF Radio

For example, last year QF Radio was taken off the air after a seven-year run.

The QF-backed Sidra Medical and Research Center also saw big layoffs at the end of 2015, though it is now planning a new hiring spree.

Other projects that have gotten the ax in recent years include the Doha Debates, a decade-long partnership with Rand Corp. and a tie-up with Bloomsbury Publishing.

Gazanfarulla Khan

Qela

The Qatar Luxury Group under QF, which launched homegrown fashion brand Qela in 2013, has also lost momentum.

“Whoever is still there should not be surprised by snow in January,” said the ex-staffer, in a turn of phrase not quite applicable to a desert country. “They were expecting it.”

Cost-cutting

The layoffs come amid a larger effort by the government and private companies in Qatar to operate on tighter budgets .

This has resulted in consolidation and job losses in many sectors, including oil and gas, health and transport.

RasGas

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

For its part, QF is expected to offer advance notice to employees who are laid off, as well as no objection certificates.

However, officials declined to provide any specific details about the upcoming terminations, saying:

“As a prominent Qatari organization, we understand the public interest for more information regarding the aforementioned changes.

However, our priority at this point is to communicate clearly with our employees, before addressing any external requests for information.”

QF is a massive non-profit that was founded by the Father Emir and his wife, chairperson Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, 22 years ago.

It is involved in countless educational and scientific endeavors.

This includes the upcoming Msheireb Downtown Doha project, the Arab Museum of Modern Art (Mathaf) and the Qatar National Research Fund.

Are you a staffer concerned about losing your job? Thoughts?