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Celebrations were in order last night for 650 students who graduated from nine institutions in the Qatar Foundation 2016 Convocation.

The Father Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani joined QF chairperson Sheikha Moza bint Nasser to congratulate the students, in the event at the Qatar National Convention Center near Education City last night.

The keynote address to the Class of 2016 was delivered by QF chief executive and vice-chairperson Sheikha Hind bint Hamad Al-Thani, who was also graduating with an Executive MBA from HEC Paris in Qatar.

Qatar Foundation Convocation 2016

QNA/Instagram

Qatar Foundation Convocation 2016

She told the assembled graduates, family and friends:

“Your ambition and determination makes us truly believe that you are at the vanguard of the prosperous future we aspire to achieve.

“This is a very special moment in our lives, as we transition from the classroom to the workplace. After we graduate, we must not stop learning and seeking fulfilling experiences. We must continue to keep up with the latest knowledge in our chosen fields.”

Sheikha Moza presented each student with a graduation ring, accompanied by the Deans of their respective universities, QF said in a statement.

The new graduates then passed through a “door to the future”, symbolizing their journey from education into employment.

Universities

The institutions which graduated students last night were:

  • Hamad bin Khalifa University (HBKU);
  • Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar (CMU-Q);
  • Texas A&M University at Qatar (TAMUQ);
  • Weill Cornell Medicine – Qatar (WCM-Q);
  • Northwestern University in Qatar (NU-Q);
  • HEC Paris in Qatar;
  • University College London in Qatar (UCL Qatar);
  • Georgetown University School of Foreign Service in Qatar (GU-Q); and
  • Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar (VCUQatar).

This year’s batch of 650 students receiving Bachelors and Masters degrees was slightly down on the 672 who graduation in last year’s convocation.

The number of QF graduates has grown steadily since the first 122 students finished school in 2008.

Qatar Foundation Convocation 2016

QF/Twitter

Qatar Foundation Convocation 2016

Some 44 percent of the graduates were Qatari nationals. Students at Education City come from 43 countries, and around 60 percent of them are female, Gulf Times reported.

The students’ address was delivered by Shoaib Rashid, a blogger, entrepreneur and YouTube presenter. He told the graduates:

“It is your responsibility to contribute to society by reinvesting the extraordinary skills and talents which we are here to celebrate today.”

Three graduates also received the Q 2016 Excellence Award for their contribution to the campus, the local and international community as well as their outstanding academic performance.

They were Hissa Al Noaimi from Georgetown University School of Foreign Service in Qatar; Sana Zeenal Britto from Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar; and Vignesh Shanmugam from Weill Cornell Medicine – Qatar.

Many took to social media last night to congratulate the new graduates and wish them well for their future, while other students expressed their thanks for their education.

Congratulations, graduates! Thoughts?

All renderings courtesy of the Doha Institute for Graduate Studies

Qatar’s newest university is preparing to welcome its first students this fall, officials have announced. When it does, the Doha Institute for Graduate Studies will be one of the few academic institutions in the region to offer graduate-level research in social sciences, humanities, law, media and public administration.

A new campus is under construction north of Qatar University, and the school is planning to move into its first administration and teaching buildings this summer to prepare for its inaugural academic year.

Library rendering

Doha Institute for Graduate Studies

Library rendering

Eventually, it will be home to a 450-seat auditorium adjacent to a lecture hall, seminar rooms and a library with up to 150,000 printed and electronic books, journals, magazines. Plans for the 100,000-square-meter campus also include student and faculty accommodations, a health clinic, child care center, cafeteria and fitness center.

The university will have two faculties: a school of social sciences and humanities, as well as a school of public administration and development economics. It will initially offer 10 two-year masters degrees, including in history, Arabic language and linguistics, media and cultural studies, philosophy and others.

Doctorate programs are being considered for the 2017-18 academic year. Speaking to Doha News, Rasheed El-Enany, the dean of the university’s school of social sciences and humanities, said:

“We’re aiming to teach (students) independent and critical thinking. We’re creating an institution that is offering something in higher education and graduate education that no other institution in Qatar is offering,” he added.

The Doha Institute – plans for which were first announced in 2013 – was founded as an autonomous entity by the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies, a local think tank that receives funding from the Qatar government.

Small student body

Rasheed El-Enany, dean of the the school of social sciences and humanities at the Doha Institute for Graduate Studies.

Doha Institute for Graduate Studies.

Rasheed El-Enany, dean of the the school of social sciences and humanities at the Doha Institute for Graduate Studies.

El-Enany, who said he spent the better part of his career at the University of Exeter in the UK, said he envisions the Doha Institute being a research-intensive university.

The quality and quantity of published research is the primary measurement that several new ranking programs – including those by Times Higher Education and US News & World Report – have focused on when evaluating schools in the region.

El-Enany said he expects to start the 2015-16 academic year with between 50 and 60 faculty members. Employment offers have been accepted by nearly 90 percent of future staff members, who hail from Australia, Canada, the US and various Arab and European countries, he added.

Doha Institute for Graduate Studies rendering.

Doha Institute for Graduate Studies

Doha Institute for Graduate Studies rendering.

The student recruitment process is ongoing across Qatar and other Arab countries, with applications due by the end of March. The school is initially targeting 15 students per program, for a total of 150 students. The size of the student body would effectively double in 2016-17 with the entry of the second cohort of masters degree students.

“The numbers are small … but the student-staff ratio is likely going to be one of the best in the world,” El-Enany.

While Arabic is the primary language of instruction, students must also be fluent in English so they can draw upon the extensive research published in that language.

In addition to offering full-time degree programs, the Doha Institute also has its eye on helping mid-career civil servants and private-sector managers become effective executives.

El-Enany said the university will offer professional development programs for working professionals, such as executive training courses during evening sessions.

However, the current focus is on preparing for the initial cohort of students, who are due to start classes on Oct. 4.

“The clock is ticking and we are getting closer and closer to the launch date this autumn,” El-Enany said. “We have an ambitious agenda in the sense that we are aiming to fill an existing education (gap) … not just in Qatar, but in the region as a whole.”

Thoughts?

Texas A&M at Qatar

Alexander Cheek/Flickr

Texas A&M at Qatar

Two Qatar-based universities are among the top five higher education institutions in the Middle East and North Africa based on the quality of their research, according a new index that includes branch campuses for the first time.

Texas A&M University at Qatar, which specializes in engineering programs, took the top spot in a snapshot of the Times Higher Education (THE) ranking, while Qatar University (QU) comes in fourth place out of nearly 100 universities in the region that were examined.

THE has so far only released the top five institutions, and is expected to reveal the full ranking of 30 universities at its MENA Universities Summit it will host at QU on Feb. 23-24.

Lebanon also did well, with two of its universities making the cut in the “sneak peek” list. Saudi Arabia’s King Abdulaziz University came in third place.

  1. Texas A&M at Qatar
  2. Lebanese American University
  3. King Abdulaziz University (Saudi Arabia)
  4.  Qatar University
  5. American University of Beirut

Scoring system

This latest table judged the universities on one aspect – the excellence of their research, based on Elsevier’s Scopus database – and used a metric the rankings organization has called “field weighted citation impact.” This measures the ratio of citations received for each institution against the number which it would be expected to get based on the average of the subject field.

Articles, reviews and conference papers published between 2009 and 2013 across all subject disciplines were examined, although universities had to publish a minimum of 50 papers a year to qualify.

It did not consider the overall volume of research published – a factor that is part of an ongoing debate among academic experts over how universities should be rated.

THE has said that the purpose of its upcoming summit is for academic experts to discuss the factors that should be included in an index of universities in the region, and a full ranking is expected to be released next year.

For example, most Western rankings do not consider that some research in the region may only be published in Arabic and thus not garner the same number of citations outside of the region as an English paper.

Other rankings

The early results from THE’s table of top performers in the region is at odds with other recently-published rankings, which did not include branch campuses, but placed QU further down their tables.QU official pic

For example, in the region’s first-ever higher education ranking by Washington-based  US News & World Report, QU came in 29th place out of a total of 91 MENA schools.

In this index, quality and quantity of research was considered and the company looked at schools that had published 400 or more papers between 2009 and 2013.

Universities were then ranked according to nine weighted indicators, including the number of published papers and how frequently its research is cited in other articles.

Meanwhile, QS Intelligence Unit’s MENA rankings which were also released at the end of that year, put QU overall in 16th position for the region.

This measured a number of different factors, including academic reputation and employer reputation in addition to institutions’ research impact by looking at paper per faculty and citations per paper.

Thoughts?