The University of Wollongong, Dubai, adds seven subjects to its programmes to receive accreditation for its postgraduate degrees
The mood was upbeat when after months of extensive effort the University of Wollongong, Dubai (UOWD), received accreditation for its postgraduate courses from the UAE's Commission for Academic Accreditation.
During a press conference last week, Dr Michael Singleton, Director of Administration at UOWD, thanked Shaikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, the Minister of Education, and commissioners for Academic Accreditation for granting Accredited Status to all postgraduate degrees offered by the university.
UOWD received accreditation for its undergraduate programmes last September. (See box).
UOWD had to make minor modifications to its programmes to get accreditation. "But these are add-ons," Dr Singleton told Notes.
"We did not have to remove any subjects; seven additional subjects - including Islamic Studies - will now supplement our general education course, addressing the needs of a wider pool of students."
With these additional courses the UPWD bachelor programme now extends over three and a half years instead of the earlier three years.
Wouldn't this put an extra burden, academically speaking, on students, and financially speaking on parents? Dr Raed Awamleh, Dean of Academic Affairs, said that the new courses were offered at one-third the tuition fee of regular courses.
Besides, he added, "because of the extra courses, the programme is now on par with the four-year courses offered by American universities."
Faculty members did not foresee any academic hardship for students. "With regard to the general education subjects, no additional burden is placed on students," said Dr Cedwyn Fernandes, Chair for the College of Business.
"All these courses are also offered at our summer semesters and therefore do not substantially increase the term time to finish the degree. We believe that these general education subjects will strengthen the degree and address the needs of our multi-cultural student body."
Since GCC countries recognise each other's accreditation process, UOWD students can now seek employment in both the public and private sectors in these countries.
The accreditation is backdated, which means it is applicable to former UOWD students.
UOWD was established in 1993 and currently has 1,600 students representing 70 countries.
"With this new development, our already spacious accommodations and expandable infrastructure, we expect to exceed our number of students to 2,000 in the next 12 to 18 months," said Dr Singleton.
Dr Raed attributed the success of getting accreditation to the untiring teamwork of all UOWD staff. "Their hard work has paid off and the university will benefit from attracting quality students from the UAE and the region in the future," he said.
"But the growth will not be linear. We will continue to be extremely choosy in the selection of students and our choice of faculty."
UOWD, the first Australian university in Dubai to be licensed by the UAE Ministry of Higher Education, has produced over 800 graduates. "We are proud to be part of the overall development of the UAE," said Dr Singleton.
The university recently moved to their new campus at the Dubai Knowledge Village, but Dr Singleton said that this had no bearing on the accreditation process.
When asked how getting Accredited Status would affect competition among universities in the region, Dr Singleton replied, "We do not see ourselves as competing with other universities but rather as part of a community. The programmes we offer complement those available elsewhere."
Notes later asked some students about their views on their university receiving accreditation. UAE national and Arab expatriate students were pleased with the announcement as it opened more employment opportunities for them.
But it failed to generate much excitement among those from the western hemisphere and the Indian subcontinent.
Kunnal Khiatani, a second-year IT student, said: "I hope to go abroad and this accreditation doesn't enhance my chances in any way. But in the event that I decide to stay here and work, then the accreditation is definitely a plus point."
The Commission of Academic Accreditation (CAA) supports the goal of the Ministry of Higher Education to develop the highest-quality higher education institutions and academic programmes in the UAE.
The CAA's Standards for Licensure and Accreditation documents are used as the basis of evaluation for licensing institutions of higher education and accrediting their academic programmes.
The criteria are based on internationally-recognised measures of quality.
For more details, log on to www.caa.ae
Effective from February 1, all UOWD degrees - undergraduate and postgraduate - have been fully accredited by the UAE Ministry of Education.
The general education courses
- Introduction to University Life
- Islamic Culture
- Foundation Mathematics A
- Foundation Mathematics B
- Computer Applications
- Introduction to Statistics
- Literary Skills
- Introduction to Philosophy
- Introduction to Employment Relations
- Info Tech and Citizen's Rights
- Law in Society
- Bachelor of Commerce (management)
- Bachelor of Commerce (marketing)
- Bachelor of Commerce (accounting or finance)
- Bachelor of Commerce
- Bachelor of Business Administration
- Bachelor of Computer Science
- Bachelor of Internet Science and Technology
- Master of Business Administration (MBA)
- Master of International Business
- Master of Quality Management