Bahrain undergoes strategic higher education reforms

Accelerated reform of higher education continues under the leadership of Prof Riyad Hamzah, general secretary of the Higher Education Council (HEC), with the launch of several key strategic projects that will transform the landscape of higher education in the Kingdom of Bahrain.


Already delivered this year has been the first online data collection portal that allows the higher education council to gain access to the most recent student data from all universities. Reports generated from the new system will allow analysis of trends in order to formulate policies based on accurate data. In addition, student information has been improved considerably by the launch of a complete guide to higher education courses for students, which provides details on all available programs together with key information about each course. This is a big step in providing students and parents with up-to-date and relevant information to help them make informed choices about their futures—next in the pipeline is the development of a student app.

HEC has begun work with PwC middle east education practice to develop a 10 year higher education strategy which will provide a clear direction and way forward for the sector, with a particular focus on closing the gap between higher education and the labor market as well as science and technology. In addition, HEC will work with Stanford University to develop the first national strategy for scientific research which should act as the catalyst for universities to focus their attention on result-oriented research.

Among other significant projects that are underway is the introduction of accreditation for higher education institutions, which is being delivered in partnership with the British Accreditation Council (BAC). This will introduce international standards that must be met in order for an institution to be accredited, the benefit of which will be significant to students, parents and employers in Bahrain and in the region.

Finally, improving teaching standards is a key area of focus for the country; Cameron Mirza says “All our strategic projects will add significant value to the sector, however, to really reform the sector we must focus on improving teaching standards and ensuring that students are getting the best possible education from quality teaching professionals.”

HEC will be working with the Higher Education Academy UK this year to develop and, in 2014, implement a higher education teaching certificate. The expectations are that by 2017 all faculty staff in higher education will have successfully obtained the teaching certificate.

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