UNIVERSITIES

Kuwait 2017 | HEALTH & EDUCATION | B2B

Attracting students, collaboration with the private sector, and global partnerships are just some of the key initiatives of top universities in Kuwait.

Prof. Nizar Hamzeh
PROF. NIZAR HAMZEH
President
American University of Kuwait (AUK)
Prof. Moudi A. Al-Humoud
PROF. MOUDI A. AL-HUMOUD
President
Arab Open University (AOU)

What have been some key events over the past year for AUK?

Prof. Nizar Hamzeh The key events that have characterized the past year are program accreditation, faculty recruitment, and expanding campus facilities. Overall, the past year would not have been successful without the support of the entire AUK Community. The past year was also characterized by concerted efforts in faculty recruitment, due to the increasing of number of students in certain programs and also in anticipation of the opening of new programs such as systems engineering and human resources. The aim is to recruit high-caliber faculty that combines both excellence in teaching and research. With regards to campus facilities, the construction of a new student center and an additional academic building that will house the College of Engineering is underway.

What areas of improvement do you see in the local education sector?

Prof. Moudi A. Al-Humoud Kuwait and all the other Arab countries need to invest more in education to move forward. Furthermore, there is a need for a new education reform. Even though the number of graduates has significantly increased, we still have to improve the quality of their knowledge and skills. Thus, a reform must be put into action in a serious manner rather than cosmetically and superficially. I have tried to implement these reforms for two years, and while some were successful, some were not. We have to consider the quality of the education we provide and give our students the hope that they can compete in the labor market. In addition, we have to focus on the necessity of skilled laborers and not only knowledge laborers. There are real challenges facing our education system in Kuwait. Priority should be given to reform our education system.

How can the education sector partner with the private sector to enhance the curriculum?

NH We continue to collaborate with the private sector on at least three levels. One level encompasses creating business incubators on campus that would provide training, workshops, and services to students. A second level is through internship and practical training programs that connect our curriculum and students to the business sector. A third level involves the business sector in supporting student activities and competitions whether national or internationally. Investing in students by business sector not only is a civic responsibility, but also as a national one. A fourth level is through providing consultancy by our faculty to the business sector, if requested by the latter.

MAAH Some steps can be taken to bridge the gap between industry requirements and employability, including focusing on the quality of the education, openness to a new education system, and revisiting the higher education system in order to observe its compatibility with the market. In Kuwait, we are flourishing in the financial and service industries and, thus, the education sector should aim to prepare the students for these sectors both locally and regionally.

How do you work on building up your partnership network with universities from around the world?

NH All private institutions in Kuwait are required to have a foreign partner. Our formal partner has been Dartmouth College. In addition to Dartmouth College we have signed MoUs for collaboration with George Washington University in Washington, DC; Marymount University in Arlington, Virginia; Sciences Po in Paris; the University of Göttingen in Germany; and the American University in Cairo.

MAAH We have degree accreditation programs with The Open University. The curriculum enables our students to study what their friends in the UK study, and have the same examiner in the UK evaluating our students' results, with identical standards. Currently, we are in the midst of signing our fourth agreement on degree sharing and deepening our collaboration with The Open University. We started with 400 students and today have 34,000 students and 32,000 graduates. This system also allows us to bring an international institution to the region. Such an education requires one to be open to new cultures and systems and also have a high-level competency in English, which can be quite challenging.