x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Student petition supports University of Wollongong Dubai academic

Dozens of students sign petition in support of academic being investigated over claims of poor teaching, saying his detractors are 'lazy' and were unhappy with their grades.

DUBAI // More than 50 students at the University of Wollongong Dubai have signed a petition in support of an academic who is being investigated over claims of poor teaching and favouritism.

The allegations were made by a small number of students in a class of 500. News of the investigation has shocked many.

Akram Motter, an organiser of the petition who has begun a postgraduate course after studying with the academic for two years, said: "This incident could be very damaging for us all, just because of a small number of students.

"Questioning the teaching quality at the university will make it very hard for us to get jobs, and the professor is now thinking of leaving, which would be terrible for the students as he's such a great teacher. He teaches from the heart."

Through social media including Facebook and BlackBerry Messenger, the students, many of whom are sitting final examinations, have put their names to a petition in support of the academic, who has been at the university for 11 years.

Abubakr Dinari, who will graduate this year, has been taught by the assistant professor since 2003 and described him as inspiring and passionate. He suggested the "lazy" students who had lodged the original complaints were displeased with their grades and should be investigated.

"These allegations against him are absurd and nonsense," he said. "The professor appreciates hard-working students and doesn't welcome spoon-feeding methods."

Another student, Majd Dayyaa, 22, who has been taught for nearly three years by the academic, said: "He wants one thing from us, to turn up to class, and take from that what we can.

"A lot of students don't show up then at the last minute they expect to get help for exams, and when they fail they don't like it. But I've always been very well prepared for exams. It's not hard."

The university is continuing its investigation through its office of institutional effectiveness. If the allegations are found to be true, the academic will have to take remedial training during the summer.

It is the third time in 11 years that students have complained about the professor. The previous claims were dismissed as baseless; the academic said he is confident the current claims will also be dismissed.

On hearing of the investigation last week, the academic said: "This is normal. If there are no complaints, there is something wrong. When you have over 500 students a semester, it is to be expected."

Last week, Raymi van der Spek, the executive director of Wollongong, said the dean of the department in question had met "several batches" of students and would be reviewing the academic's grading and teaching practices.

mswan@thenational.ae