Dubai: The Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT) has become the first higher education institution in the world to achieve a 5-Star rating in the Quacquarelli Symonds’ (QS) Environment, Sustainability and Governance (ESG) category, it was announced on Tuesday.
The UAE federal higher education institution’s performance was rated according to its sustainability in environmental operations, education and research related to the United Nations Sustainability Development Goals. HCT’s commitment to environmental sustainability is demonstrated by its sustainable policies, Carbon Neutral 2030 plan and climate action plan, education and outreach programmes and the reduction in energy and resource consumption, the institution said in a press release.
QS Stars is a rating system that provides a detailed look at an institution, enabling prospective students to identify which universities are the best in specific fields. HCT’s submission for the Environment, Sustainability and Governance category was evaluated on the basis of its environmental sustainability policies, its climate action plan, energy and resources consumption, research endeavours and its environmentally sustainable student organisations and education initiatives, such as public education and outreach.
In addition to its 5-Star rating in the Environmental Impact category, HCT has also been awarded a 5-Star rating in the Online Learning category. HCT’s Online Learning capabilities achieved high scores for its student-faculty engagement and student interaction; its exemplary student services and technology; access to online library databases; online career centres and career advisors and online outsourcing.
The QS 5-Star ratings in both categories will firmly establish HCT as a local, regional and global education leader with sustainable practices embedded in its core activities. They will also significantly boost HCT’s reputation among international institutions seeking potential academic collaborations.
For the Online Learning category, the QS judging panel considered factors such as HCT’s commitment to online learning, its student interactions and student-focused e-Services and technologies and its track record in the online teaching and learning field.
Professor Abdullatif AlShamsi, HCT president and CEO, said: “The QS 5-Star ratings in both categories will firmly establish HCT as a local, regional and global education leader with sustainable practices embedded in its core activities. They will also significantly boost HCT’s reputation among international institutions seeking potential academic collaborations."
“HCT, with a student body of about 23,000 students and 2,000 employees, is uniquely positioned to promote and reinforce sustainability related national agendas, such as the UAE Vision 2021 and the National Climate Change Plan 2017-2050. It is our duty to ensure HCT’s operations are aligned with these initiatives, by developing and implementing related innovative courses and initiatives,” he added.
Dr Ashwin Fernandes, QS regional director of Middle East, Africa and South Asia, congratulated HCT on the awards, which he saw as “the trailer to the full picture” of HCT’s journey. “These awards will bring HCT into the global picture, where you will be recognised for your work in a much broader area. It is also great to translate this for your students, as they should be proud of this and know you have been working for this (award) for them,” Dr Ashwin said.
He added the QS ratings will also enhance HCT’s reputation as an innovative hub for teaching and learning and attract leading faculty and educational managers from across the globe, as an employer of choice.
Professor Al Shamsi said the next iteration of hybrid and online learning was a new education model — the “hyper-hybrid” campus, which advances the bespoke nature of hybrid learning by promoting personalised, skilled and independent learners. It is a new vision for education to meet the challenges posed by digital transformation, while maintaining a balance between distance learning and on-campus learning to ensure quality education.
“At HCT, we have, and will continue to, advocate for the Campus of Tomorrow – a hyper, hybrid campus that attracts Gen Z and integrates online with onsite; virtual with experiential and provides them, the future generation, with the social entertainment that makes their learning fun and impactful,” he said.