TBY talks to Dr. Hassan Rashid Al-Derham, President of Qatar University, on offering the widest range of programs in the country, health education, and expectations for the academic year to come.
Which programs currently have the most demand from students, and how do you expect this demand to evolve in the future?
Qatar University offers 74 specializations, the widest range of academic programs in Qatar, tailoring them to meet the needs of Qatari society. The university offers 40 bachelor degrees, 25 masters degree, four PhDs, four diplomas, and a PharmD. At the undergraduate level, business law, international affairs, and mass communication are most demanded by students, while engineering management and the Gulf studies programs are popular graduate programs. Additionally, the College of Medicine has attracted a good number of students. The college enrolled 93 new students this year, including 58 Qatari nationals, for its class of 2022. This is an increase of 16% in the number of students that enrolled last year. This year, the number of students has increased to more than 17,000 at the undergraduate and graduate level. We expect this number to continue to grow each year. This reflects our commitment to providing high-quality education to Qatari and international students in areas of national priority. Qatar University offers academic programs that are aligned with international standards and best practices. This was achieved through accreditation of many of its colleges, programs, and courses by leading international accreditation bodies such as ABET, CCAPP, and AACSB, to name a few. Additionally, Qatar University offers its students an inspiring learning environment that ensures their success. Our students also receive practical training in different fields of work. This is an essential component of the learning process at Qatar University as it introduces students to the labor market and helps them gain the best practical and theoretical knowledge and skills that enable them to succeed in any business environment or sector.
What kind of partnerships does Qatar University have with the private sector to facilitate research?
Qatar University has established numerous research collaboration programs with higher education institutions and research centers in Qatar and beyond, which served to advance its international reputation and visibility. Our ever-increasing research efforts have resulted in over 2,674 co-authored publications with 1,209 collaborating institutes. All of this research has achieved top funding success under the National Priorities Research Program of the Qatar National Research Fund. Our partnerships with local and international institutions from the private sector also serve to engage students in academic, research, and other activities and bring them together with experts, specialists, and leaders from institutions around the world, such as the Korea Foundation, Osaka University, the University of Illinois at Chicago, West Virginia University, Xavier University of Louisiana, and many others. They also engender chair positions on issues that are of national, regional, and international import. At Qatar University, these include chairs in alliance of civilizations (ISESCO), civil infrastructure (QDSBG Group), humanities and social sciences (Marubeni Corporation), environmental materials (QAFAC), polymer (QAPCO), and ICT (ictQATAR), to name a few. Incumbents of these positions provide guidance and support to students preparing graduate and research projects and boost opportunities for their field experience and engagement in the world of work.
What is the strategic goal of the new Health Education Cluster?
With the establishment of the colleges of Health Sciences and Medicine and the presence of several successful health-related programs in pharmaceuticals and health sciences, Qatar University saw an opportunity to consolidate its efforts in these areas through the creation of a health education cluster to serve as a pillar of excellence in health education and research and stakeholder engagement. The cluster comprises the colleges of pharmacy, medicine, and health sciences. The strategic goal of the new health education cluster is to be based on strong research with a high impact on healthcare in Qatar. This is achieved by adding new healthcare professions in close collaboration with the Ministry of Public Health and the healthcare providers. Our research is focused on facing Qatar's major health challenges, including diabetes and heart disease.
What strategies does Qatar University have to improve its international ranking?
Qatar University does not look at ranking as a target but rather as an outcome for targeting excellence in research and education. However, Qatar University has taken steps to understand different ranking criteria, and proactively enhances its data submission to those agencies. In addition, the focus on improving research and education quality has improved the ranking of the university. Finally, Qatar University is working hard to improve its academic reputation through many venues including building partnerships and hosting international scientific events.
What initiatives does Qatar University have to engage the community to ensure continued social development?
Community engagement is an area that is at the heart of Qatar University's mission and vision. The university is committed to ensuring that campus life is an enriching environment for encouraging academic excellence, volunteerism, civic responsibility, and leadership. It also provides a wide range of programs such as Al Bairaq, the Life is Engineering Project, Gasna, and the Annual Computing Contest aimed at raising students' awareness of their future role in contributing to the country's development. Additionally, members of the community can gain further education and training in various disciplines through professional development programs across the university's colleges.
What are your expectations for the 2017-18 academic year?
We will continue to drive forward Qatar University's role as a social and strategic partner in national development. We expect to attract more students by providing smooth opportunities for people from various cultural backgrounds and various professional and academic interests. We also expect to increase the percentage of students graduating within a four-year period to 60%. We will also continue to advance our academic and research portfolio in line with international standards, and enhance Qatar University's position in international rankings to become one of the top-300 universities in the world and among the best 200 universities in at least two minors.