Shaikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan said the importance of higher education has given prominence to commissions and associations of academic licensing and accreditation. Image Credit: WAM

Abu Dhabi: Establishing clear principles and benchmarks for quality education was the focus of the Arab Network for Quality Assurance in Higher Education, held in the capital.

"Determining the scope of our operations now and in the future requires the adoption of international best practices, benchmarks, assessment methods, strategies and effective systems for accreditation," said Shaikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, addressing the meeting.

He added that the importance of higher education had raised the prominence of commissions and associations of academic licensing and accreditation.

"The increasing role of knowledge as an engine of social and economic activities in our region and the world has led to the increased importance of higher education in society, not only in supporting efforts of development and growth but also in preparing students for rich and productive lives," he said.

Several specialists and professors deliberated on ways of ensuring how institutions in the UAE can offer a world-class higher education.

"We are looking at finding benchmarks to ensure that the outcome achieved by UAE students is equal in quality to those of their worldwide peers," Sue Parner, senior manager in charge of qualifications framework at the National Qualification Authority, told Gulf News.

"The higher education here in the UAE does not provide students with sufficient on-the-job training opportunities to practice what they are learning while studying," she added.

Nick Harris, international adviser shared his view with Gulf News. "A qualification framework provides a direct and understandable link between the needs and expectations of the society and its individuals and all forms of education and training and their quality assurance."

The feasibility of adopting models of successful enterprises and how they leverage integration of students in their professional workforce was among the topics discussed.

Dr Victoria Lindsay, deputy director of validation services at UK Open University, explained to Gulf News about the partnership with the Arab Open University. "Some 22,000 students are currently benefiting from this partnership that will allow them to receive two degrees so that they meet both the European and Arab requirements in Lebanon, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman and Jordan," he said.