AMMAN — The higher education council and the ministry will soon revise laws governing the country’s higher education institutions, a senior official said, highlighting plans to establish a technical education directorate in the near future.

Hani Dmour, secretary general of the Higher Education Ministry, said the revision of the laws is aimed at finding better ways to select academic leaders in public and private universities, while the projected directorate will be established to follow up on the ministry’s strategy to promote technical education.

In a recent interview with The Jordan Times, Dmour said a polytechnic academy will be established in every region to make it easier for students to enrol in technical education programmes regardless of their area of residence.

“We have tasked the National Centre for Human Resources Development with conducting a study on market needs for technical specialties, and based on the results, we will create or cancel certain specialties,” the official said.

He explained that full scholarships might be provided to students who enrol in technical education.

Meanwhile, a memorandum of understanding is scheduled to be signed within a month to establish a Chinese-Jordanian university for technical education, with further details to be discussed on the mechanism and whether the institution will be independent or affiliated with Balqa Applied University, Dmour said.

All recent higher education strategies are focused on the importance of developing technical education in the Kingdom, especially due to the shortage of technical education graduates, he added.

In recent years, over 100,000 students have been passing the General Secondary Certificate Examination annually, and this puts pressure on the country’s universities and the labour market, which does not even provide job opportunities that can absorb half of university graduates, Dmour said.

In a related context, he revealed that new regulations for foreign certificate equivalence will be announced this week. Work has also started on developing recognition of foreign universities’ regulations, and a plan is under way to adopt an electronic service for certificate equivalence.

Dmour said the ministry recognises online certificates from any university listed on the Shanghai Academic Ranking of World Universities, which is an annual publication by the Shanghai Ranking Consultancy.

“A certificate should be issued by an internationally recognised university to ensure quality of education,” Dmour added.

In another development, the ministry has formed a committee to follow up on public-private partnerships and how to better involve the private sector in the development of higher education, according to the secretary general.

He explained that although the private sector is currently represented on university boards of trustees, its contribution is “humble” and “we want actual participation”.

Reform

Although the ministry has developed different strategies over the past few years, all of them seek to achieve the same objectives — higher education reform.

The strategies are regularly revised and new strategies were prepared in line with the accelerating local and regional changes, according to Dmour, who added that the main pillars for higher education reform include the quality of output and competitiveness.

Many Jordanian students have returned to the country due to the current regional unrest and this, for example, requires adopting some changes, the official said.

Acknowledging that some of the programmes offered at universities are not in demand in the job market, Dmour said these subjects cannot be simply scrapped, citing potential faculty layoffs.

“Thus, the subject in concern should be developed in a way that suits the local and regional job markets.”

“We want universities to develop their plans, so that students can gain skills and be competent everywhere,” he noted.

With regard to the evaluation of universities, Dmour said the ministry will focus on the quality and competency of graduates and quality assurance, noting that the quality of education varies between universities since it is difficult for institutions located in remote areas to hire faculty, and some of them lack the financial resources to improve.

“Sometimes, university presidents are only busy finding ways to pay employees’ salaries instead of developing infrastructure, and this is due to the lack of financial resources.”

Exceptions to remain

Dmour said the exceptions in university admission criteria will not be cancelled, especially for students who live in remote areas, as the quality of education provided in these regions, and even the infrastructure in some schools, is lower than in major cities.

“We have to help these students and provide them with opportunities,” he said, noting that this also contributes to the development of remote areas.

Article Source : Jordan Times