x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Higher Colleges of Technology must stay relevant to UAE's needs

The Higher Colleges of Technology must keep pace with society and stay relevant to the country's needs, says its chancellor, Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak.

DUBAI // The Higher Colleges of Technology must keep pace with society and stay relevant to the country's needs, says its chancellor, Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak.

Speaking at Dubai Women's College yesterday at the 25-year-old university's annual conference, Sheikh Nahyan, who is also the Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, called for better community engagement and for Emiratisation of staff on the 17 campuses.

"Today as we look to the future, our plans and programmes will stress more than ever before the practical, applied nature of our institution," he said.

"We will intensify our engagement with business, industry, government agencies and the broader community. We must ensure that our students learn and can do what the country needs and wants."

Sheikh Nahyan said to do this, students must be given the flexibility to move between degrees and switch to those more suited to their skills and interests.

Dr Tayeb Kamali, the institution's vice chancellor, agreed that the institution's programmes must become more aligned with the country's strategic plans and priorities.

"The UAE still requires highly skilled people in many new areas such as logistics, nuclear technology, agribusiness, urban planning, industrial planning and medical para-professionals among others," said Dr Kamali.

Despite yearly increases in enrolment, Sheikh Nahyan stressed there was no room for complacency.

"We blithely proceed as though the UAE knows the Higher Colleges of Technology, and we are right insofar as the UAE knows of our existence and thinks well of us," he said.

"Now, however, more than ever before, the UAE must understand what we do and how our graduates add enormous value to our nation."

Since its establishment as an institution focusing on vocational education in 1988, HCT - the largest of the federal institutions that also include UAE and Zayed universities - has had more than 55,000 students graduate.

But while about 22,000 students are enrolled at HCT, Sheikh Nahyan said expanding enrolment remained a priority.

He also emphasised the need to improve student retention, especially in the foundation year when as many as 20 per cent of students can drop out, lured by well-paid jobs in uniform or simply deterred by the leap from high school to tertiary education.

mswan@thenational.ae