x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Cultivating the right mindset for study matters

Higher education requires a particular mindset. This is critical to consider when implementing the Government's latest decision

Higher education requires maturity, desire to learn, and curiosity to explore and discover the world around us. But, unfortunately, many members of the new generations around the world don’t seem to possess that as much as the generations that came before them. Some studies have shown significant generational gaps in education and work attitudes in general.

Many young adults graduating from high schools are not ready to take responsibility and learn for themselves. And this is critical to consider here in the UAE when implementing the recent decision to scrap the foundation year at state universities. As The National reported yesterday, Sheikh Hamdan bin Mubarak, the Minister of Higher Education confirmed at the FNC meeting on Tuesday that the decision by the cabinet to abolish the foundation year at state universities, which improves new students’ English-language skills before they join different colleges, will come into effect starting from 2018.

The abolition alone could not work of course without answering a fundamental question: does the current school system provide students with sufficient English skills to join their major studies immediately? Although the statistics have been improving, only 20 per cent of students were ready for direct entry to university at federal institutions last year. This means that by 2018, the English teaching standards at secondary high schools will have to be highly improved in order to close the gap.

But there is also another critical question to be asked here: would high school graduates be mature enough by the time they join universities? As a foundation teacher at Zayed University told The National, there are many young students “who just aren’t ready to study” and have insufficient levels of maturity and willingness to work and gain general skills and knowledge in some areas, such as maths and science.

While it is the responsibility of parents to be firm in teaching their children how to get more serious, control themselves and accept personal accountability, the mandatory military training introduced recently by the UAE Cabinet could also play a role in shaping young male adults’ character. And so it should be required at the time between secondary school and college. The country and the young themselves would benefit from it.