x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Zayed University’s vision will remain ‘firm and untouched’

Zayed University would like to start with a sincere appreciation to The National and its editorial board for giving us the opportunity to clarify and reiterate the facts in response to an article published on September 16, 2013 entitled Rule changes spark mixed reactions at Zayed University. First and foremost, Zayed University is honoured with the unique distinction of bearing the name of the father of the UAE, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan (may his soul rest in peace). Our name is a source of pride for the United Arab Emirates.

Zayed University’s mission from the very outset has been to provide high-quality academic programmes and services that align with international standards and best practices.

These are the requirements for institutional accreditation of the UAE Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research and the requirements of the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, where the latter has only been granted to Zayed University within the entire Mena region. The policies and procedures are the very same ones that were approved by the University Council. These policies and procedures are available online for the public.

Zayed University wants to emphasise that neither the President nor the Provost has the authority to change these policies or make any exceptions to them without the University Council’s approval. Zayed University reiterates that no changes have been made to the current policies and procedures that the university has been following. However, what appears to have caused concern and what is currently happening is that students, faculty and staff are expected to adhere to the rules and procedures without exception effective this academic year 2013-2014, thus unifying the university’s systems and procedures to ensure equity, integrity and equal educational opportunities without disturbing academic life. According to the article, the no exception measure has stirred negative sentiment among the ZU community.

The claim that students are not allowed to change their schedules is inaccurate. In May each year, over 80 per cent of students in the University College and Degree Majors select their classes and arrange their schedules during the early registration period. There are administrative policies and guidelines about class sizes and student-teacher ratio consistent with international standards that must be met. The no exception rule has affected a small number of students while consideration was made for legitimate special circumstances (eg, health issues). Needless to say the university held meetings during the orientation week to inform parents and students of the expectations and requirements, and that no exceptions will be tolerated. Parents were also asked to look for practical solutions to logistical matters related to transportation as the university does not offer such a service.

Since the establishment of Zayed University, the typical academic schedule for faculty and undergraduate female students runs from 8am to 5pm. At Zayed University, students are expected to participate in full-time study that may go beyond these hours. As such, students interested in joining Zayed University should prioritise their classes, study and adapt their employment schedules accordingly. Further, and in line with accreditation and academic requirements, faculty members are expected to teach 12 credit hours and not 15 as stated in the article. Faculty members are even entitled to release hours if they are actively engaged in scholarly research work or community services. The faculty schedules are also posted for student information to support them further in following up their learning and academic progress.

Moreover, the safety and security of our students on campus is paramount. In line with UAE norms and traditions, and since the establishment of the university, a policy for entering and exiting (known as the proximity system) has been put in place.

The only addition to this practice is a new SMS service, which notifies parents or guardians when the students are on or off campus. This is an optional service. In response to security concerns on campus, the university has introduced a car number plate recognition system to ensure only authorised vehicles can enter the campus.

Contrary to the article’s claims, Zayed University is experiencing a phenomenal 20 per cent growth in enrolment, which is a challenge that the university is doing its utmost to accommodate. The massive surge in enrolment requires careful attention by our staff as many other families are pledging to enrol their sons and daughters in the university.

In response to the claim that student activities were suspended without any reason, the university has no plans to cancel or defer any planned activities that are undertaken by the students.

Zayed University is a learning community of students, faculty and staff in the discovery and dissemination of knowledge. Within its first 15 years, Zayed University takes pride in having graduated a distinguished generation of alumnae; many of whom have prominent leadership positions across all UAE institutions. This achievement is made possible in a flourishing academic environment that considers the UAE’s values and traditions and promotes innovation and creativity. Zayed University’s vision, mission and values will remain firm and untouched.

Dr Abdalla Al Amiri is Provost of Zayed University