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5th Arab Conference Quality Assurance in Higher Education (IACQA 2015)”

Medical and Health Sciences Campus 3 MAR 201510 AM
Sending Two Cables to Pay Tribute and Express Gratitude to Khalifa and Sultan
Participants at the 5th Arab Conference on Quality Assurance in Higher Education at the
University of Sharjah Recommends Establishing an Academic Commission in the Arab World

Participants at the “5th Arab Conference Quality Assurance in Higher Education (IACQA 2015)” included in their conference recommendations a cable to His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE, in which they paid tribute to HH for the level of advancement and progress taking place in the country due to his support and patronage for quality education at all levels. They described education in the UAE as a model worthy of emulation throughout the Arab world. Conference participants also sent a similar cable to His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council, Ruler of Sharjah, and President of the University of Sharjah for his patronage of the conference. In it they praised HH for the educational and academic institutions of which Sharjah University City is composed and the quality of education found at the University of Sharjah in particular. They also expressed their deep appreciation and gratitude to Sheikh Essam Bin Saqr Al Qassimi, Advisor at the Office of His Highness - Ruler of Sharjah, for his presiding over the opening ceremony.

The University of Sharjah convened the 5th Arab Conference on Quality Assurance in Higher Education at the end of last week, in cooperation with the General Secretariat on Quality Assurance and the Association of Arab Universities. The three-day conference, held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council, Ruler of Sharjah, and President of the University of Sharjah, included a plenary session presided over by Sheikh Essam Bin Saqr Al Qassimi, Advisor at the Office of His Highness - Ruler of Sharjah, on the Medical Colleges and Health Science College campus at the University of Sharjah.

The conference closing statement included a number of important recommendations such as the need to establish an independent academic accreditation commission in the Arab world, which would take into account international standards of quality assurance and specify a practical work mechanism to ensure its effectiveness.

Establishing the commission would mean ranking universities at the local and regional levels, and encompassing the specifications imposed upon such universities by the cultures and circumstances of Arab societies, which can present obstacles in terms of international rankings. The commission would also be tasked with:  Creating academic and technical databases inclusive of research and online educational resources to be made available to the largest number of Arab universities in order to exchange of experiences; developing practical procedures for activating online education at Arab universities and accrediting their programs; benefitting from the unique local and international experience in this field; exchanging experience in long and short-term strategic planning, which would include a practical means for application and clear indicators for performance at Arab institutions of higher education as well as facilitate cooperation in areas of common interest; focusing on amending some concepts related to quality economies; providing a statement resulting from the application of quality standards, including advantages and outcomes to justify the costs of such a commission; promoting the exchange of faculty and visiting academics; organizing workshops, joint activities and events between universities in the fields quality assurance in higher education; paying more attention to research and considering research a fundamental component of academic programs at all levels; reviewing academic programs and courses; and determining learning outcomes against quality standards and the needs of the local and international communities in order to realize the professional, ethical and social responsibility of universities.

In their concluding statement, participants at the conference expressed their hope that relevant parties in the Arab world would exert efforts towards implementing the recommendations to ensure improving all aspects of quality assurance in higher education.

Participants at the conference held a number of scientific research sessions, which included four keynote lectures:  1) Quality Assurance in Higher Education in the Arab Region: Current Status, Opportunities, and Challenges by Professor M. Badr Aboul-Ela, Director of the Commission for Academic Accreditation, Director of the Accreditation Commission of the UAE Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research (MHESR); 2) Towards Realizing Sustainable Competitive Excellence at Arab Universities by Professor Rateb S. Alsaud, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Zarqa University in Jordan; 3) The Strategic Dimension of the National Accreditation System and Quality Assurance in Higher Education in Kuwait by Dr. Nouria A. Al-Awadi, Director General of the National Accreditation Commission in Kuwait; and 4) Learning Outcomes in Higher Education in Jordan by Professor Adnan Nayfeh, Professor of Engineering and Advisor on the Quality Assurance and the Accreditation of Institutions of Higher Education in Jordan. Conference activities also included three workshops entitled:  Outcomes of Student Learning and Assessment; Following a Pragmatic Approach in the Design Process of Quality Management at Institutions of Higher Education:  Application for the Administration of Academic Programs according to Accreditation Standards; and the Self Study of an Academic Program.

Conference organizers received (337) submissions of research of which (148) were accepted and discussed in (18) sessions over a two-day period. Papers were distributed across seven domains:  The philosophical and moral framework of quality in higher education; mechanisms for the application of standards to ensure quality in higher education; management of quality in higher education; strategic planning dimensions and the economics of quality assurance; provision of models of quality assurance in higher education; identifying models of university quality assurance; and ranking universities.



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