Abu Dhabi, UAE: Challenges facing the higher education sector were the focus of a recent gathering that provided an opportunity for experts and scholars to share their views on roadblocks in education.
Ali Mahafzah, professor of history at the University of Jordan ( UJ ), cited the historical context surrounding higher education since 1985, the year in which officials started to sense a “decline” in the quality of education.
“Several recommendations were made that year to improve higher education, such as referring 27,000 unqualified teachers to retirement over a period of 10 years, but they were all rejected,” Mahafzah said at a panel discussion organised by the Jordanian Club of Humboldt Fellows and the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Liberty.
The professor attributed the lack of administrative and financial independence of universities to the “poor” quality of education, in addition to the “school-like” laws governing the sector.
For UJ President Ekhleif Tarawneh, the “distorted” relationship between universities and decision-making bodies, such as the Higher Education Ministry and commission, contributed to weakening the role of higher education institutions and thus, the services they provide.
Tarawneh proposed activating the role of university boards in attracting funding and adopting the model of “productive” universities in terms of research and publications.
Sami Khasawneh, former vice president of UJ , noted that the method of appointing university presidents in Jordan is “wrong”.
He added that faculty members fail to encourage scientific research among students, which, as a result, has turned the universities into “knowledge-consuming” facilities rather than hubs for innovation.
The panel discussion was part of a series of gatherings the Jordanian Club of Humboldt Fellows and the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Liberty have been holding to touch on crucial issues pertaining to higher education.
© Jordan Times 2014
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