Tuesday, May 08, 2007

University presidents

The last few weeks have been busy on the university front. It started when a new fracas broke out at Yarmouk University, followed by a visit by the king to the University of Jordan, where he met with the presidents of the public universities in the country. The king told the presidents to prepare a five year plan for the upgrading of their institutions. He also emphasized the need to prevent student violence.

After having treated previous student violence through trivializing the issue, the presidents found that this violence is actually a serious matter. It seems, however, that this new found sincerity is too late.

The buzz is now that a wholesale change in the presidents of the universities is in the cards. Many would agree that change is needed at this stage. However, it should be noted that the current mess has its roots in a similar endeavor three years ago. At the time of prime minister Faisal Fayez, the minister of higher education decided to fire seven university presidents at once. Previously, changes in university administrations had been done on a case-by-case basis. Experience has shown that most of the presidents fired three years ago were much more capable than the ones who replaced them. Three years ago, no question would have ever been raised about the credibility of Jordanian university degrees. Now, such questions are in fact on the table.

Choosing a university president is not an easy task. In the west, the process takes months of deliberations, advertising for candidates, studying CV’s, listening to presentations, conducting interviews, discussing plans until the final decision is made. Note that this is for only one president.

In Jordan, the process is opaque. Certain names with links to certain politicians have an inside track. No CV’s will be examined, no visions presented, and probably no examination that will ascertain that the candidate knows English (which is a requirement to get accepted into a masters’ program, but not a requirement to be a university president).

So now, we are listening to rumors, which change hourly. Soon we will have the new names, and how they managed to get themselves chosen. If we are lucky, the process will produce a group of illustrious academicians with proven track records who can lead the universities towards distinction. Unfortunately, repeating the same experiment of three years ago will most probably yield the same results. I am not optimistic.

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11 Comments:

At 10:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Three years ago the president of JUST was the only one who fared the wrath of the one person who orchestrated the sacking (neither the PM nor the minister of higher education). Alarabalyawm today reported that he and his ex vice, now in the German university would get through again. I am afraid that this will increase the man’s apparent lack of vision and insight and will sell that to his cronies that he is god’s chosen savior for higher education. He will say: If I think it, it must be right! And he will always find people to nod in solemn agreement. Also, the gulf states are considering JUST degrees now especially Msc

 
At 11:54 PM, Blogger Mohanned Al-arabiat said...

Just like toukan said(eventhough I have some things on him) our universities became fighting illitracy centers..Why don't they eliminate all "makromeh" things and only accept a specific number of students, why don't they have a limit on how many students should be in a class!!More that 20 is haram, instead of having 35000 students in the UJ have 10000, you will be able to provide free, high quality education..and they should be accepted based on their achievments not their fathers job or his place of birth!!Our school looked for a dean not a president and it took almost six months of processing and interviewing ans students were invited to seminars where candidates were asked questions!!When, just when?
BTW, we missed you:)

 
At 12:48 AM, Blogger Khalaf said...

Anon: I doubt that Dr. Owais will be spared this purge, no matter what Al Arab al Yawm says.

I am not sure what you mean when you say that "the gulf states are considering JUST degrees now especially MSc". Are they considering not recognizing them?

Mohanned: Thanks for the kind words. I had some issues and health problems that I needed to sort out. I am fine now.

The whole thrust of the higher education policy has been to increase the numbers of students. It is a statistical reality that only a certain percentage of people have the intellect and drive to succeed in university. Increasing numbers necessarily means accepting lower quality students. None of our politicians seem to grasp this simple concept.

 
At 4:20 AM, Blogger Habchawi said...

If we decrease the number of students accepted every year most of them will go outside the country to get this education and believe me -for the most part- they are not going to an avy League schools. So, in my opinion, open the schools in Jordan and create some economical development using this money that otherwise would have been used outside the country. at the same time make sure that we have some quality schools using public and private funds. even In the west there are schools that are no more than 'literacy fighting centers' designed for people who want and can afford that kind of easy education. Honestly I think the issue is mainly a social problem not a policy problem, everybody wants to go to a university.
The only real large scale makromah I am aware of is the military dependents one and from my experience [in YU & JUST] students admitted by the military makromeh have similar results in twajihi; don’t forget that their schools are not good as the schools in the big cities. also, in the universities they tend to do a better than a lot of non-makromeh students. In any way most of those students will not be able to afford an education without makromeh, probably that’s why they work harder. So depriving them from this opportunity won’t solve the problem.
as for violence in the universities i think enforcing strict policies by a strong president will solve it, at least in smaller universities.

Slamtak ya khalf Alrwabda 3ank:D

 
At 6:18 AM, Blogger Mohanned Al-arabiat said...

Habchawi,
Government schools should, no must provide free education to students, so limiting the number of admitted students in the governmental institutions doesn't mean that we are loosing money, it means quality of education and more focus on research which is the whole idea behind a university, so lets say that we eliminate any exceptions and limit the numbers and accept only promising students, the result will be a research oriented school that will not only help the economy but also provide future for the students.Now after reforming public universities you can allow private schools to operate but under close monitoring of the quality, and also you can enforce them to pay the tution of specific number of students each year..
Universities are not supposed to be money makers, universities must produce brains that will lead and innovate, not students that hit each other on the election day!!

Salamat walla ya khalaf, zay ma gal habchawi el rawabdeh wala enta:)

 
At 12:30 PM, Blogger saiya said...

I am a Chinese girl,I think it's so much problems in China's education,because there are plenty of teenagers in China.I want to know something about education in your country,can I become a friend of you!can I?
My E-mail:xsaiya@gmail.com

 
At 10:24 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with the gist of all that the previous bloggers have said: If there is to be a change, the new Presidents better be chosen purely on merit rather than wasta (wishful thinking???). After all they are going to shoulder the monumental responsibility of undoing the damage done by their incompetent predecessors. The names being floated around by the rumor mill are not very encouraging. I feel awfully pessimistic...looks like we are in for a few more years of the same or worse. May God help us all!

 
At 1:42 AM, Blogger Arrabi said...

Salam Khalaf,
weinak? I just hope whatever is holding you from blogging is positive busy time.
tamminna. should we start a 'release the blogger khalaf' campaign just like in egypt? :-)

 
At 8:51 PM, Blogger Khalaf said...

Thanks Mohammad! No need for a campaign to release me. Just have been very busy.

 
At 11:44 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Will someone please say something about the three new Presidents of State universities, appointed yesterday? I have a nasty and bitter feeling that they are not at all fit for their jobs. According to rumors they are totally inept and will not be up to managing such large universities. Does anyone know anything about the new appointees????

 
At 8:14 PM, Blogger Oleander said...

I'm also very interested in hearing Khalaf's take on the new appointees.

 

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