Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Higher Education (for all?)

The annual Gulf Higher Education Exhibition (GHEDEX) started yesterday and thousands of students and high school graduates began swarming to the expo center looking at their higher education options both in Oman and abroad. At the opening of the exhibition, the personal representative to His Majesty the Sultan and the undersecretary of higher education both made statements to the press which clearly spelled out the government's view on higher education.

"I would like to encourage everyone (diploma and secondary school certificate holders), including employees in the government and private sectors to complete their higher education," said Sayyid Asa'ad bin Tariq. "This is necessary to be competitive in the gulf and international job markets and on a long-term basis. You can now learn and work. There is a chance and you must not miss that chance," he said.

Asked if there were any plans by the government to start another university, Sayyid Asa'ad said: "I have not heard of anything of that sort. We have four public universities, and there is scope for them to expand. If, for example, they can teach 2000 students, they can easily teach 4000, and they teach 4000 they can go up to 6000. Nizwa University will be teaching around 4000 to 6000 students in the next 5 or 6 years."

But Nizwa University is a private university, not public. As we all know SQU is the only public university in Oman. The other 3 "public universities" that His Highness referred to are in fact all private universities: Dhofar University, Nizwa University and Sohar University. From what I hear, the government has been actively promoting the merger of the existing "university colleges" in Muscat such as Majan College, Muscat College, etc, into one single multi-campus university to be called Muscat University. But the colleges themselves are resisting.

Dr. Abdullah Al Sarmi, undersecretary of the ministry of higher education, yesterday made it clear to the press that the higher education council has stopped issuing licenses for setting up private universities and colleges. He also said that there is no mismatch between demand and supply with respect to the number of students graduating from secondary school and the number of seats available in higher education insititutions. He echoed Sayyid Asa'ad's view and explained that the institutions are operating at their minimal capacity and that they could probably accomodate four times as many students. Dr. Abdullah further explained that it was only the lack of proper means to educate themseles on the higher education segment, and not lack of awareness or any other reasons, that have stopped a segment of young Omanis from pursuing higher education.

And yet the government insists that there's no need for more public colleges?


Fast_HacKinG said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Sleepless In Muscat said...

Muscati, I don't fully understand what you're trying to point out at in your arguement.

Could you perhaps elaborate on it for me?

hibbalicious said...

me neither i dont get it lol

muscati said...


1. They want everyone to get a higher education.
2. There is only one free university in Oman.
3. There are 56,000 kids coming out of highschool every year.
4. The free uni only accomodates a couple thousand.
5. The government admits that most of the high school graduates can't afford private universities.
6. And yet the government refuses to build another free university and says if more students want to get university education then the private universities will have to increase their intake capacity.

Catch-22 or what?

hibbalicious said...

why dont they open vacational colleges- universities where instead of learning a subject your learning a SKILL and working therefore gaining experience at the same time, more likely to be guaranteed a job at the end of the course unlike many graduates who are fluent in subjects yet have no skills what so ever.

I think thats a possible solution they are doing that in saudi now and many places.

illogicist said...

I wonder which is more cost effective - to build a free university of a pretty high standard such as SQU, or provide all those scholarships that they do on a yearly basis? Just a thought.

Sleepless In Muscat said...

the government's main plan is to decrease public spending from the budget to cut down annual costs and expenditure ...maybe they see that private universities get the 'hint' to try and offer some few thousand people free scholarships...



illogicist said...

Theres a few things which I get about this. 'Returns to expenditure' is traditionally highest in primary education, and lowest in higher education, when it comes to government spending. And it also costs the government a lot more per higher education student that primary level student. With that said, it would seem to make sense to invest less in higher education - and yet they still spend large amounts of money in scholarships. A lot of scholarship students I know, I would say get more money than they need - they live VERY comfortably.

All Im saying is that the current system doesnt seem to be particularly efficient - but what do I know.

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