MODEL CURRICULA

Oman 2018 | HEALTH & EDUCATION | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to HE Dr. Ali Saud Al-Bemani, Vice Chancellor of Sultan Qaboos University (SQU), on modeling labor market needs to build a qualified workforce and a diversified economy.

HE Dr. Ali Saud Al-Bemani
BIOGRAPHY
HE Dr. Ali Saud Al-Bemani completed his BSc, MSc, and PhD in petroleum engineering in the US. He began his professional career in 1980, working at Petroleum Development Oman (PDO) for five years as a petroleum engineer and production technologist. In 1986, he joined Sultan Qaboos University (SQU), where he held many ranks leading to his current position as Vice-Chancellor of the university. He also contributed heavily in preparation of the strategic planning for the College of Engineering and the Oil & Gas Research Center, as well as the restructuring of petroleum engineering programs and planning. He initiated several collaborations between petroleum and chemical engineering programs and other universities around the world.

What is SQU's role in helping to diversify the Omani economy?

In order to support the Sultanate's efforts to diversify its economy, SQU is keen on producing graduates who have the skills needed to succeed in an increasingly competitive job market through targeted programs. Our academic programs are aimed at addressing the acknowledged skills shortages that exist in a number of sectors that coexist with a high level of unemployment. We continuously update our curriculum, teaching methods, and revamp the whole education system to focus on science, technology, and engineering along with other vital fields. The aim is training Oman's youth population to take on the jobs that employers need to achieve His Majesty's visionary plans to bring diversification, industrialization, privatization, and increased integration into the global economy. As a leading university with a strong regional presence, SQU is keen on promoting the entrepreneurial skill of our students and their orientation toward strategic research and innovation.

What is SQU's take on the increasing number of private education institutions throughout the Sultanate?

To meet the growing number of students seeking higher education in Oman, and to meet the growing needs of the country in terms of skills development and capacity building, it is vital to have higher educational institutions that offer high-quality training in different fields. The recent increase in the number of private universities in the Sultanate is indeed a sign of progress in society. It indicates that more and more people are keen on acquiring advanced education. At the same time, students are eager to enroll in public higher educational institutions as well. The most sought after higher educational institution in the country is indeed SQU, the one and only national university that carries His Majesty's name. SQU is the premier higher educational institution in the country and continues its role as a model for other universities and higher educational institutions in Oman in terms of teaching and research.

What steps is SQU taking in order to ensure that students are prepared for the demands of the private sector?

A national-level project is in place to harmonize the output of higher education with the needs of the labor market. SQU is associating with several organizations and authorities for the successful completion of this vital project that will have a significant positive impact on the development process in the Sultanate. The project resulted in the establishment of a system of specialized studies in the labor market and a specialized database to assess the current and future needs of the Omani labor market in terms of expected numbers, skills, and disciplines required. The team seeks to build an economic model that helps to assess the future needs of jobs in the Sultanate according to different economic scenarios. It seeks to find quantitative results for the future needs of the Omani labor market for qualified human resources according to different scenarios, and find indicators about the important skills needed by the labor market from an employer's point of view. Other objectives of the team include finding indicators about graduates' satisfaction about the programs offered by higher education institutions in preparing them to join the labor market.

What are SQU's main objectives for 2018?

SQU is looking forward to receiving institutional accreditation to ensure the quality of our programs and services, which include academic and research programs and services provided to the community. We continue our efforts to promote the university's position at the local, regional, and international levels, and to ensure excellence to cultivate a culture of quality within the university's community, including staff and students.