More than 500 students were deprived of their higher studies and lost large sums of money after authorities in Ajman abruptly shut their university on the grounds it is not officially approved.
Albayan Arabic language daily said Ajman Municipality closed the private university and quoted education officials as saying parents are to blame for their students’ plight since they had not checked the university’s status.
Students told the paper they had asked the municipality to retrieve fees they had paid for the university or they would resort to court.
“Their parents should take the responsibility because they had not checked with the Ministry of Higher Education whether this university is authorised or not,” said Dr Mohammed Badruddin, head of the academic section at the Ministry.
He said the university had been based in Dubai before moving to Ajman, adding that the Ministry had notified authorities in that emirate that the university is not officially licensed.
“They moved accordingly and shut the university…we appeal for all students’ parents not to fall in the trap of such dubious institutions,” he said.
Albayan did not identify the university but a picture of the building published along with the report showed it is the “Seven Layers for Training and Solutions.”
Students protest hike in Ajman University fees
Ajman University’s decision to hike tution fees suddenly without any prior announcement has shocked students and parents alike, triggering a waveof disappointment and protests among students.
Describing it as unjustified and uncalled for, various groups of students are airing their resentment through different medium,including through social networking websites like Facebook, Arabic daily Al Khaleej reported.
Students are unanimous at least on one point that they were not made aware of the change in advance and argue that their parents are not
prepared for the hike, especially due to the fact that the university has also changed the fee payment scheme.
In the current scheme the students had the convenience of paying Dh2,000 in the beginning of an academic year followed by regular installments which would be completed before the term end examination.
However, according to the new decision, 50 per cent of the tution fee should be paid at the time of registration, while the remaining within the next two weeks, putting a huge pressure on the parents.
Protesting against the decision, the students are demanding the current mechanism to be retained, threatening to call a general strike if the university management doesn’t agree.
The faculty that would be most affected by the decision is dental, where the fee of accredited hours have been increased to Dh150 per hour while the lab fees would be Dh500 per hour, and Dh50 per hour for other specializations.
What has angered the students most is the fact that the decision was not announced at a time when they were choosing their subjects. “Had we known the hike in fees we would have chosen the subjects according to their affordability,” said an angry student.
However, the varsity management has justified their decision, saying that this is the first such increase in more than two years and the “University was obliged to take a decision in the event of growing expenses and there was no other way to fulfill its obligations but through a hike in fee.”
Thamer Saeed Salman, Vice President for Finance and Administration, at the Ajman University said “since the start of the financial crisis the university did not raise the fees. we took into account the circumstances of students and their parents, and we put pressure on ourselves to cover the costs of the university and are committed to our obligations regarding the provision of excellent education.”
He said the increase was not as much as it was made out to be, because the fees is still not as much as other universities charge.
Dubai private schools 'failing' students in Arabic
While most Dubai students might be able to fluently read and write Arabic, and even pass exams with flying colours, very few can actually converse in the language outside their classroom.
This is what the recent Dubai School Inspection Bureau (DSIB) report has substantiated.
Students, despite, learning Arabic, as a second language, aren’t able to grasp the nuances of the language.
While experts agreed that the curriculum needs an innovative make-over, they believe the onus should lie with the schools.
“As a first language, with the curriculum set by the Ministry of Education, Arabic is good, but a lot needs to be done with the second-language curriculum,” reported DSIB chief Jameela Al Muhairi, adding that when she recently visited an Indian school, a student was able to read in Arabic fluently, but went blank when asked to explain its meaning.
“We want to shift this mentality, so that students can use it. It’s not enough that they just read and pass exams,” she added.
Dr Abdullah Al Karam, Chairman of the Board of Directors and Director General of KHDA, admitted that there are challenges but schools must devise ways to overcome this flaw.
“Yes, there are many challenges. Where do you get the teachers for Arabic? But, many schools (like the ones graded “outstanding”) have shown creative ways of overcoming it. These schools, didn’t give in to the challenges, but innovated on it.”
Jameela elucidated how the “outstanding” schools developed interesting strategies to make Arabic exciting for the children.
“You don’t want to be boring when you teach Arabic. And, this is what we allow the schools to do. They can set their standard and, this is what we measure.
“For Arabic as the first language, they have to follow the standard set by the Ministry of Education,” she elaborated.
The progress, she believed, will shift gradually and could take a few years, adding that the challenges are similar for Arabic students who learn English as a second language.
The DSIB report observed that students make less rapid progress in Islamic Education and Arabic, than in other key subjects, with the “outstanding” schools showcasing how they take steps to improve the quality of teaching and learning and check the timetables, annually, to ensure it is in compliance with the Ministry of Education regulations.
While most schools, even those “outstanding” ones, reported that the challenges escalate when they are teaching children from different nationalities, many have devised ways of restricting the curriculum to overcome it.
“We’ve chalked out practices like videoing (Arabic) lessons, and have developed and resourced the curriculum internally.
“It is then shared with the Ministry and with other schools.
“There are enrichment programmes, recitation clubs, and the progress is then relayed to the parents,” explained Emma Leigh-Bennett - Head of Secondary at Wellington International School.
“And we give our Arabic teachers additional time to plan their work and share the resourcing.
“We are also looking at reducing the class sizes to ensure better focus.”
Most parents, however, told DSIB about their dissatisfaction over the way their children learnt Arabic (as a second language).
Even, students, who were interviewed, claimed their progress in Arabic was not strong as in other subjects.
“I feel that Arabic is not developed well. It is not taught in the right way. Even my friends complain about it,” a student told DSIB.
Some key findings in the DSIB report
- The degree of improvement in students’ progress in Arabic, over the four year inspection period, continues to be considerably less than in other key subjects.
- A significant minority of private schools still fail to meet the Ministry of Education requirements for Islamic Education and Arabic.
- There are a few schools that fail to ensure that first language Arabic students follow the correct programme. These students are taught as additional language learners, which means they are often not challenged to reach the required levels in their mother tongue.
- In most UK schools, students’ progress in Arabic as a first and as an additional language has improved this year. However, overall, students’ performance in Arabic is not as good as in other subjects.
- Despite some improvements in students’ attainment in Arabic as a first or additional language, in the majority of US schools attainment levels in most key subjects remained stable in 2011-12.
- Under the Indian curriculum, students’ attainment in Arabic as an additional language is far lower than all other key subjects. The majority of students learning Arabic as an additional language achieve only acceptable levels of attainment despite several years of study.
- Teaching, and consequently attainment and progress, in Islamic Education and Arabic have improved in most IB curriculum schools.
- In schools offering French curriculum, the relatively high achievement of students in the key subjects of French, English, Science and Mathematics is not matched with equal success in Arabic.
- All Iranian schools provide an acceptable curriculum based on the Iranian National curriculum. However, the UAE MOE requirements regarding Islamic Education and Arabic are not met.
The curriculum is narrow in these schools, especially for higher attaining students with a lack of choice in subjects. The curriculum lacks enrichment, cross-curricular opportunities and real life links