Public, private community colleges ‘on verge of vanishing’ as student numbers drop

CommunityCollegesontheVergeofClosingAMMAN — At a time when skilled human resources are a prerequisite for development and an antidote to unemployment, technical education is "left to suffer from higher education policies", according to sector leaders.

The Kingdom's public and private community colleges are on the verge of "vanishing from the academic scene", with eight colleges having closed down in the past five years and many others about to follow suit, according to a recent study conducted by the Private Community Colleges Committee.

In the 2014-2015 academic year, the number of students registered in community colleges went down from 29,724 to 23,544, a 21 per cent drop.

"With students graduating in the 2014-2015 summer semester, we are talking about only 13,856 students enrolled in the country's 41 public, private, military and UNRWA community colleges," said Ayman Maqableh, dean of Al Quds College, a community college, which focuses on technical training.

Head of the Private Community Colleges Committee Musa Momani said vocational training is going through a crisis due to what he described as the "dominance of capital over education".

"The features of the overall educational system in Jordan are unclear. All [its] stakeholders are fighting alone," he told The Jordan Times on Monday.

He said the "vague" philosophy of education, which "diverted its course and purpose", is the reason behind the "deteriorating" situation of community colleges.

"Community colleges were first established in the 1980s to provide the labour market with specialised trained cadres, but this endeavour has not been achieved as a result of higher education policies in favour of private universities," Momani stated.

He added that colleges have been sensitive to labour market needs, focusing on the applied and technical facets of specialisations.

The situation was "made even worse" in the last two years due to the drop in minimum admission scores to universities, Momani added.

According to documents made available to The Jordan Times, community colleges targeted 4,000 students whose General Secondary Certificate Examination (Tawjihi) scores ranged between 50 to 60 per cent in 2012, dropping to 500 students this year.

“I have witnessed 53 committees throughout the years tasked with addressing the problem of colleges. We have yet to see any results,” said Momani, noting that it is unacceptable for students who score 60 per cent to study “sensitive” majors, such as law or accounting.

He added that if things continue at their current rate, “there will be an additional 600,000 unemployed university graduates in two years”.

Maqableh, on the other hand, noted that some of the colleges are “more equipped” than universities but are operating below than their maximum potential.

According to one of the studies, there is a need for coordination between decision makers, unifying the reference of community colleges and reconsidering the higher education strategy, while revisiting university admissions criteria.

Officials at the state-run Balqa Applied University, whose president is head of the higher committee of the annual comprehensive final exam for community college students, were not available for comment despite several attempts by The Jordan Times to contact them.

Article Source : Jordan Times

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