The Business Year

Ken MacLeod

QATAR - Health & Education

Secondary Sources

President, College of the North Atlantic-Qatar (CNA-Q)


Ken MacLeod was appointed President of the College of the North Atlantic—Qatar (CNA-Q) campus in August of 2010. He has over 30 years of experience as an educator, educational entrepreneur, and educational administrator in both the private and public sectors. Ken has held the positions of President of LearnCorp International and Director of International Programs and Partnerships at Cape Breton University, Nova Scotia, Canada. He holds a PhD in Computing Technology in Education from Nova Southeastern University. He has worked on establishing partnerships in China and Malaysia; co-founding Cape Breton University’s Associate Campus, the Canadian International College, in Cairo, Egypt; and establishing an advanced training center in Papua New Guinea for ExxonMobil Global Training Operations.

What is your overview of the Qatari education sector? The post-secondary branch campus model has worked for Qatar, and it is seen as a leader in the region in post-secondary […]

What is your overview of the Qatari education sector?

The post-secondary branch campus model has worked for Qatar, and it is seen as a leader in the region in post-secondary education. We need to recognize that the education system is really a continuum from K-12, college, and university. The college and university components of that continuum were formed through the branch campus model and, therefore, were established with the standards of the parent campuses. The K-12 sector, on the other hand, is not as well defined and requires considerable work in terms of teacher preparation and professional development, accreditation, and curriculum development and standardization. In order for the education system to truly work as a continuum, one of the next issues to be addressed is the transferability of credits among post-secondary institutions. Overall, I think the Education and Training Sector Strategy provides a key framework for improvement in the system, and we will see as a result of implementing the projects prescribed in the ETSS. When we opened in 2002, we had the first co-ed campus in the country.

How would you rate Qatar’s progress in its transition from a resources-based economy to a knowledge-based economy?

From the education sector’s perspective, we have to service the development of a workforce that, currently, is predominantly in a hydrocarbon-based economy. However, that said, any economy these days has knowledge-based components, and that is what is happening in the workplace, where technology is permeating, particularly in the oil and gas and healthcare sectors. They go hand in hand; although, as we still have a hydrocarbon-based economy, the oil and gas sector has tremendous technology needs, which can only be addressed through education and training and, as we provide highly skilled, technologically competent workers for today’s workforce, we automatically lay the groundwork for a transition to a knowledge-based economy.

What programs and certificates do you offer students?

We offer two-year and three-year college diploma-level credentials to our students. That is probably one of the primary issues here in Qatar; the diploma still being an ill-understood credential. However, we have to educate our public because our Engineering Technology Diploma takes three years and contains 50 courses, and though it is rigorous, is not perceived as being quite as prestigious as a degree. We have four schools, the School of Engineering and Technology, the School of Information Technology, the School of Health Science, and the School of Business Studies, and we also have a very large School of Language Studies and Academics, because currently, 52% of the students that come to us need remedial English or remediation in Mathematics and Science.

To what extent does CNA-Q partner with the State of Qatar and with the community?

By definition, a college is responsive to the sectors it serves, so we are joined at the hip with the State of Qatar through business, industry, and government partnerships. Every program we offer is here because there was an identified need in the community. When this college was first launched, it was mainly providing business and engineering programs, because companies like QP required those skill sets and every program that has been added since then has met an identified need. We engage the community to find out what their needs are and if the need is great enough, we launch a program, which could be one that already exists at our parent campus in Canada, or else one we need to develop.



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