Abu Dhabi University was given a charter in the year 2000. After 3 years of preparation, the institution of higher education admitted its first students in the year 2003. The university has two campuses. Before registering students, the university is required to obtain all essential measures to guarantee approval for all its degree courses from the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research. The university aims to be the leading higher education institution in the UAE, the Arabian Gulf region, and internationally. Considered that the university has a few years of operation, achieving the above aim is a great challenge. Its courses, incorporating a number of diverse cultures and structures, emulate the history of our society and embrace emerging requirements of Emiratis. The paper below analyses the quality of learning at Abu Dhabi University.
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Abu Dhabi University offers a variety of undergraduate and postgraduate degrees (Abu Dhabi University, 2015). Some of the degrees are founded on the American structure of higher education. Other professional and diploma courses are based on the British structure of post-secondary education. Abu Dhabi University’s formal language is English. Nonetheless, the institution offers degree and diploma courses in English and Arabic languages. Currently, the quality of learning at Abu Dhabi University is the major worry among education stakeholders (Abu Dhabi University, 2015). Researchers agree that supervising and upholding the quality of education in higher institutions with diverse cultural populace is not only thought-provoking and a difficult task. The paper below focuses on the quality of learning at Abu Dhabi University. A prototype to uphold the quality of learning in the university will be analysed along with its difficulties.
As indicated above, the research paper will attempt to identify the quality of learning at Abu Dhabi University. Through this, the research paper attempts to answer a number of sub-questions, which explores the topic from a narrower perspective. Below are the research questions:
- Does the learning offered at Abu Dhabi University equip graduates with the necessary skills needed to operate in a competitive environment?
- Does the quality of learning at Abu Dhabi University meet international education standards?
- What is the consistency of quality of learning at Abu Dhabi University?
- Does the quality of learning at Abu Dhabi University meet the customers’ expectations?
- What are the efficiency and effectiveness of education offered at Abu Dhabi University?
- Is education offered at Abu Dhabi University transformative?
Based on these questions, researchers can explore the quality of learning in institutions. Education stakeholders have realised the need to create a curriculum that encourages broad and balanced learning for graduates. The essence of enhancing the quality of learning in higher education is to allow graduates to achieve wide and balanced experiences during their training programmes.
Globally, universities and colleges are trying hard to meet growing concerns of quality assurance and the ever-changing customer requirements. Eight new difficulties have been identified as the major challenges facing universities and colleges. The challenges are illustrated below:
- Rising demand and mystification
- Diversification of providers and methods
- Private provisions
- Distance education
- Cross-border higher education
- Quality assurance
- Teacher education
- Academic profession
A number of factors determine problems in higher education. They are political, economic, administrative, quality of students, quality of teachers, and academic factors. In the UAE, universities and colleges are experiencing problems on numerous fronts (Abu Dhabi University, 2015). For instance, anxieties among students and increasing questions about the significance of tertiary education for the public good are some of the concerns. The above challenges result from the quality of learning offered in tertiary institutions.
In the recent past, several questions have been asked about the quality of learning at Abu Dhabi University (Gitsaki, 2011). The issue has been on whether the institution equips graduates with the necessary skills needed to operate in a competitive environment. Based on these questions, tertiary institutions in Hong Kong have emphasised the importance of the whole person development programmes. Educators have realised the need to create a curriculum that encourages broad and balanced learning for graduates. The essence of the whole person development programmes is to allow graduates to achieve wide and balanced experiences during their training programmes.
For this study, most of the data were collected through field research. The method entailed acquiring data from secure and reliable higher education institutions, face-to-face interviews, and questionnaires. The institutions provided the researchers with crucial information such as the present and the past education and learning reports. The above sources were very efficient since they were bias-free. The face-to-face interview and surveys required researchers to question the participants in person to collect their personal views. During the interview, the contributors were asked to detail their perspectives. The questions used during the interviews were open-ended. Equally, questionnaires were appropriate for collecting private information from the participants.
As such, our target population were students from Abu Dhabi University. The survey used in the collection of data consisted of 20 questions. The questions were collected from 10o female students. The questions were open-ended so that the answers would bring unambiguous results. The first questionnaire contained 10 questions. The second questionnaire was comprised of 10 questions. The sampling technique was relevant to the study because the samples of the population were judged based on a typical representation of the population.
The questions were formulated in such a way that the students needed to mark only ticks to express their appreciations or observations in the respective columns. The use of questionnaires was suitable for this study as the sample population was large in number and answers to the questions would bring obvious results. In addition, secondary researches were also conducted on related studies with the help of internet databases and online contents. Two study samples were selected from this random search, and their methods of study and the findings were analysed.
When the data was being collected, participants’ privacy was upheld to ensure that the research did not harm them. Before we commenced our research, we acknowledged that the major issues that we were to encounter were related to participants’ privacy. In this regard, before the data collection process was undertaken in our research, permission for the study was requested from the university authorities and the Institute of Research Board. Equally, the research followed the directives of the established code of ethics.
As such, the research caused no harm to the participants, safeguarded the participants’ privacy, and was voluntary. During the data collection, participants were informed of what was required of them before the start of the project, the length of the project benefits accrued from the project, possible risk associated with the research, and who to consult.
After the collection of the data, the researchers analysed the information to identify the quality of learning at Abu Dhabi University. From the data, it was noted that the university’s quality of learning had been affected by four major challenges. The challenges are misalignment of tertiary education outcomes with the country’s socio-economic vision, inadequate quality of alumni & faculty, restricted research activity, and limited chances of admission to quality higher education. The results also showed that there is no balance amid the employment’s demands and the supply of tertiary education graduates based on discipline. Indicated below is a graph indicating tertiary education specialization supply against labour market demand.
The results indicated that the root causes of the challenges facing the quality of learning in Abu Dhabi University were manifold. Some of the causes were little training level of p-12 graduates, insufficient quality assurance, inadequate and fuzzy program offerings, challenges in drawing and retaining quality staff, inadequate aid for tertiary education, and undersized research & innovation setting.
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Abu Dhabi University has noted that higher education has evolved to define graduates’ outcomes and cater to the dynamic needs of the society. Quality learning programmes have been critical in developing these needs. Past studies have guided tertiary institutions to formulate curriculum, which could respond to intellectual development, emotional growth, moral, and personal growth of learners. Thus, society has an insight into what graduates should be after completing the training. Insufficient quality assurance was also a major reason for the low quality of learning at Abu Dhabi University. Emerging demand for access to tertiary education has led to establishments of a number of tertiary institutions across the UAE.
In Abu Dhabi, different perspectives of societal expectations towards the quality of learning exist. Several individuals believe that tertiary education should produce graduates who meet employers and communities’ needs. As such, the society expects graduates to have a broad range of skills, positive attitudes, abilities to cope with others and serve the society. The above expectation differs from exam-oriented elites of the past. It is imperative to note that the past curriculum could only meet these skills partially. Therefore, educators at Abu Dhabi University must come up with programs that meet the expectations of various stakeholders in education and society.
Similarly, across the UAE the society expects higher education institutions to produce graduates who have core values, which they can use in society to propel their teams to greatness (Gaad, 2010). Equally, they expect the institutions to offer quality-learning programs that will instil transformational leadership styles in graduates. Skills applied in the past years can no longer match the demands of a shifting world. On a positive note, these changes in the society have led to creativity, the need to create a balance, and the desire among graduates to create long-lasting impacts in the society. Changes in the society have created the need for quality learning programmes.
Such changes have forced Abu Dhabi University to invent new methods of training graduates. People look upon their leaders to show them directions during difficult situations. Leaders must rely on their core skills in order to produce the desired changes in society. Universities in the UAE such as Abu Dhabi University are expected to produce such leaders.
Discoveries of the 20th century led people to high-levels of specialisation (Davidson, 2009). Scientific and technological advancement created graduates who had skills in focused fields, specialised areas, and mainly in sub-disciplines. Then, professionals had high-levels of skills in limited areas. As such, they were generally clueless in other fields. However, the 21st century’s work environment has changed. The 21st century’s work environment requires all-round graduates who could survive and thrive in dynamic environments. The society expects current graduates to possess positive attributes that will enable them to thrive in the dynamic 21st century environment. Therefore, Abu Dhabi University must consider the above challenges in order to create quality-learning programmes, which would produce graduates who will meet the society’s expectations.
Based on the results obtained in the research, it is apparent that the university and the relevant authorities should put in place measures to enhance the quality of learning at Abu Dhabi University. As such, quality assurance team should be set up to evaluate on the quality of education offered at the university. The team should identify areas that need to be boosted to improve the quality of learning at the institution.
Similarly, education stakeholders should ensure that more and qualified students join the university. Currently, the number of those joining the universities across the country is very low. The number of female students compared with male students is even lower. The above imply that more students at the secondary level of education should be encouraged to pursue higher education.
To improve its global ranking, the university should set more funds for research purpose. The research conducted above noted that there were few funds allocated for research at the university compared to other leading western universities. As such, the money were not enough to fund comprehensive research studies. In this regard, the university should attract more donors to fund their researchers.
Equally, the university must attract and retain competent faculty (Albadri, 2013). The research noted that it was very hard for the university to attract competent faculty compared to other leading western universities. Therefore, remunerations offered by the university should be reviewed to ensure that they attract and retain competent staff members. Similarly, better remunerations will boost staff morale leading to improvement in the quality of learning.
Similarly, the university should introduce whole person development programs in all courses. Through this, it will be able to produce dynamic graduates needed in the 21st century work environment. Educators should come up with a curriculum that encourages broad and balanced learning for graduates. The essence of a whole person development is to allow graduates to achieve wide and balanced experiences during their training programmes.
They get a wide range of experiences from various fields to develop their potential, which relate to creativity, emotional intelligence, interpersonal relations, motor skills, social responsibilities, and other skills required today. Whole person development programmes recognise learners’ participation and achievement in academic programmes, sports, games, and other co-curricular activities. Such training programmes develop learners’ self-confidence, motivation, and emotions to allow them survive under various circumstances. Therefore, the university should prioritise the need to produce effective and competitive graduates.
In conclusion, it should be noted that the quality of learning at Abu Dhabi University is the major worry among education stakeholders. Researchers agree that supervising and upholding the quality of education in higher institutions with diverse cultural populace is not only thought provoking and a difficult task. From the data, it was noted that the university’s quality of learning had been affected by four major challenges. The challenges are misalignment of tertiary education outcomes with the country’s socioeconomic vision, inadequate quality of alumni & faculty, restricted research activity, and limited chances of admission to quality higher education. Based on the results obtained in the research, it is apparent that the university and the relevant authorities should put in place measures to enhance the quality of learning at Abu Dhabi University.
Abu Dhabi University (2015). Home page: Abu Dhabi University. Web.
Albadri, F. (2013). Information systems applications in the Arab education sector. Hershey, Pa.: IGI Global. Web.
Davidson, C. (2009). Abu Dhabi: Oil and beyond. New York: Columbia University Press. Web.
Gaad, E. (2010). Inclusive Education in the Middle East. Hoboken: Taylor & Francis. Web.
Gitsaki, C. (2011). Teaching and learning in the Arab world. Bern: P. Lang. Web.