x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Emiratis in conflict areas exempted from attending classes

Education minister will make allowances for students who cannot attend university classes abroad in conflict areas.

ABU DHABI // Emirati students studying in politically unstable countries will be exempted from attending class in certain cases, the minister of higher education told the FNC yesterday.

Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak said while it was crucial that all students complete their course work and have their transcripts attested by the UAE, given certain circumstances, some students would not be subject to the rules.

But Musabah Al Kitbi (Sharjah) asked that the ministry remove the rule entirely, as many Emiratis have been forced to remain in the UAE and their studies have not been completed due to lack of attendance.

He cited Egypt, Jordan, Bahrain and Lebanon as some countries where Emiratis have been unable to continue their studies. According to ministry statistics, 312 students were studying in these countries last year.

"This is not counting the ones studying on their own expense," Mr Al Kitbi said. "Attending could put their life in danger, so [the ministry] needs to keep this in mind."

Sheikh Nahyan reiterated that those students would be exempt, but stressed the importance of attendance.

He said universities require minimum attendance for a student to gain a degree. He said the ministry only asks for the third of required attendance in order to give students credit. This is an effort to ensure students are missing class because of safety reasons, and not because they have decided to quit.

"So if it is three years, then the ministry asks for the students to be at university for a year at least. And this does not have to be continuous," he said. "This is not a big burden on students, just shows us how serious they are about education."

Mr Al Kitbi replied: "Tens of students have certificates and are at home, I really hope that this requirement will be looked over again for these youth."

He also asked the minister what was being done to keep students safe from communicable diseases abroad, but the FNC speaker, Mohammed Al Murr, said the question was out of place.

On another matter, regarding recent calls to conduct university courses in Arabic, Sheikh Nahyan stressed that studying foreign languages was essential to be competitive worldwide and to help students enter the work force.

He disagreed that learning a foreign language conflicts with national identity.

osalem@thenational.ae