SHARJAH // The new national vocational training college will take over full management of the Sharjah Institute of Technology next year.
The Abu Dhabi Vocational Education and Training Institute (Adveti) has taken on more than 3,000 students from across the country who did not have the grades for the three federal universities.
There are 120 men and 80 women of those students in Sharjah.
As the 3,000 take their first-year intensive English course, the institute is working out which vocational diplomas to offer them next year.
They are likely to be similar to those at other campuses, in subjects such as engineering and tourism, but tailored for the needs of each emirate.
In Sharjah, there is the additional question of what to do with SIT's 350 existing students, most of whom are aged between 15 and 18 and studying for British vocational qualifications in subjects including engineering and art and design.
Those already enrolled will finish their studies over the next two years. After that, Adveti is planning to open a new technical high school.
Hanadi Al Suwaidi, director of SIT, said the merger would be good for the students and the college, which opened in 2003.
"The greater number of programmes Adveti are offering will give the students in Sharjah and the surrounding areas a great opportunity," Ms Al Suwaidi said. "The number of ladies has doubled now so we are doing market research into the areas they will be interested in."
To help its vocational focus, SIT works with more than 40 organisations, including the British Council.
Melanie Relton, who works with SIT on the council's behalf organising "work taster" programmes, said the institution was filling a gap in Sharjah and she hoped the partnerships would continue with Adveti.
"It has been a vital institution for Sharjah," Ms Relton said. "These are students who may otherwise not have found work."
She said she hoped the merger would boost vocational education, which has had a poor image among students and employers.
Consistent funding would also help. Since it opened, the college's government funding has halved, forcing it to find private investors.
"Having the one institution across the Emirates focusing on vocational education may help ensure more consistency of curricula as well as helping raise a greater understanding of the qualifications in general," Ms Relton said.
Kabir Macdow, senior co-ordinator at Adveti's Sharjah campus, has been with Adveti in Al Ain since 2008.
"It's good this is spreading to other areas," Mr Macdow said. "Other systems have been tried but there is the need for one throughout the country."
Kathleen Hodge, the managing director of Adveti, said the new college will be similar to SIT, but "under a more structured system".
All of its courses will eventually be covered by a new national qualifications framework, being developed.
Having institutions "under the same umbrella will be good for the students", said Ms Hodge. "It's a goal for vocational education."
For now, Adveti has a year to work out what courses would best suit its new students in Sharjah and the Northern Emirates.
"It will vary according to emirate but Adveti has a common curriculum," Ms Hodge said.
"Which course offered at a given institution will relate to the market in that emirate."