Thursday, January 28, 2010

The True State of Higher Education in Oman? "Very Poor"... An Exclusive Interview

This post [3rd Jan 2010] on higher education in Oman has been removed at the request of the interviewee.

While he stands by his comments, they have lead to him being personally attacked in several Omani forums and websites, and his frank observations have prompted a coalition of the ignorant and the guilty to deliberately obfuscate his statements and subject him to ad hominem attacks that, in my opinion, not only slander his character but help demonstrate the fundamental truth of his description of the pathetic state of Oman's higher education system and many of those within it.

This - perhaps predictable - reaction has highlighted that, not only is Oman not ready to tolerate a true free speech of opinion, Oman is not even ready to accept a discussion of obvious and demonstrable truth.

I thank him for his candor, and wish him well.

To the troglodytes his interview attracted - I hope you suffer painfully from the careless, incompetent and unprofessional graduates you have helped create.

Undercover Dragon
28th Jan 2010

52 comments:

  1. A very relavant article. To build a nation Oman should invest in REAL education and stop publishing glossy numbers.

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  2. It's a nation built on quicksand! The above is not surprising when you consider it's the same for Omanis getting driving licences either through ROP or PDO.

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  3. an aquaintance of mine who attended a College in Muttrah, for a BA, told me that his papers were actually the work of the lecturer who would mark them !!!
    Did you know today is the birthday of Isacc Newton

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  4. BTW - the world ranking of Universities does seem to be very US weighted - try another http://i.cs.hku.hk/~tse/topten.html#World and sorry about spelling mistakes on my last one (its late)

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  5. BTW congrats on the interview UD. As one who has left Oman and working elsewhere it is difficult to get the real news. All I see in newspapers in another Omani getting an award or praise for something meaningless.

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  6. UD,
    I am sure you would have seen the hoopla around inauguration tallest building in the world.
    Why is burj dubai named "burj khalifa", all of a sudden? Has it got something to do with Abudhabi pumping money?

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  7. A very relevant topic and one that Oman has been struggling with for years. I work with student interns from local colleges and universities on a regular basis. These kids have BAs or Diplomas and supposedly 1 to 2 years of intense English. After six years at university I still end up having to teach them about computer basics, simple things like how to copy a paper or answer a phone call professionally. One guy with a degree in Human Resources didn't know what the word 'recruitment' meant.

    SQU used to have high standards, but now I find that graduates from private colleges or universities seem to know more. Is Wasta causing a lot of the problems? Probably.
    Does bribing exist in HEIs? Yes.

    When only 13% of humans are language learners, do we expect all Omani students to graduate speaking fluent English? Is it realistic? no.

    Re: funding, I agree that the government should cover the fixed costs for running private HEIs since students are missing out on a lot due to lack of funds at university. Libraries, computers, qualified teachers, engineering equipment, etc.

    Higher Education in Oman needs a 360 degree transformation. Students aren't able to cope with jobs because they lack the skils and knowledge to perform job tasks successfully. As you said, a piece of paper isn't going to secure you a successful career.

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  8. Low standards.. high standards.. are they aware of what they are?? and are the all-pass, funding, plagiarism, cheating and such some of the main problems to deserve that attention paid to them?? I don't know, but Ifeel there are a lot of important things to take into consideration when discussing this other than what has been mentioned. Maybe it's better to read the books we read or attend one of our classes and try to figure out what the missing thing is. I mean something like this: http://shyrebelliousarabgirl.blogspot.com/2009/12/our-identities-as-omani-students.html

    There are other things I, as a student, find really strange and unpleasant to think of at Uni. Let me vent:

    1. I wonder why we, students of the college of arts, are the only students studying critical thinking?
    2. Why do we not study ethics? At least the students of the college of education, the future teachers, why don't they study anything related to ethics, Immanuel Kant's grounding for the metaphysics of morals, or anything like that?
    3. Why do all students have to take courses on the history of Oman and Omani society? Our knowledge of Oman is quite well, and there's no need for such curses.
    4. Why do we, English literature and translation students, have to waste two semesters in learning English grammar and vocabulary? Isn't our English supposed to be good enough to study in English, as the tests you did when we were freshmen showed??
    5. Why do English literature students and the students of the Arabic Dept. are still not exposed to the text-linguistic approach or more scientific and objective approaches in analysing different kinds of text?
    6. Why do some lecturers arguing about the outlines of some courses and refusing to follow them, keep argue and refuse only? Why not discuss the outline with the one responsible for it? Why is there only one lecturer responsible for each course?
    7. Why do the sciences college students not know that Pluto is no more called a planet, and why not many of them know about the LHC? I've taken a course on astronomy, and I was stunned by the geeks there.


    And does that have to do with plagiarism? funding? cheating? computers?? No!

    I don't know but everything seems really messed up. I mean, even the stars that came out from Uni dissapoint us. I know someone who has graduated 3 years ago and was rewareded with a lot of things, including a space in a newspaper. That person is in fact misguided, talking of things that can cause damage in society (like indirectly accusing us, Dhofari girls, of being chauvinist, in one of his/her articles). No-one tries to understand whom Oman needs. There's an A classmate too who I fear is walking on the same way. S/he is our bright star because s/he read a lot, s/he's our angel.. who was not accused of publishing a plagiared story. I wonder if I'm the only one who noticed it. *gritting teeth* not out of jealousy.

    I want to talk more about it, but I think it's enough for now. It's really annoying and I hate it so much. I know I'm wasting my time at Uni and I always wish to go home, read the books I want to read, study Japanese and work on my novel, but I can't live without a diploma, at least.

    Hmm.. it looks I'm causing myself trouble these days *unsure*

    @Nadia: Let me tell you about one of my British teachers when I was a freshman. He is an Oxford graduate and a published writer, but knows nothing about how to do basic things in computers. So if you want to make fool of him give him a laptop as a present. ^^ he was one of my funniest, but greatest, teachers.

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  9. Just go and check affiliations of private Colleges in Oman. All are affiliatied to low ranking and useless universities in home countries. See Majan College affailiated Bedfordshire University, MECIT affiliated to Coventary University, Modern College with Missouri etc check all colleges none of them is affiliated to a high ranking university. All are money making machine. Parent body is just interested in making money on each registered student.

    I met a student of Al Zahar College in one of the exhbition and she was inquring about Masters Degree in English Literature. She was not able to speak a sentence of English. I asked her what courses she did? She said BA in English Literature

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  10. The Blabbering CamelJanuary 6, 2010 at 1:27 AM

    In regards to your post with respect to the state of Higher education in Oman .... It's pathetic.
    I have enrolled at a local college pursuing a degree. Mind you, its been over 12 years since my last stint at a college. The entrance exam constituted adding fractions and basic trigonometry for mathematics, basic sentence structure for English and elementary science. This material was covered in grade 3, and now an entrance exam to a college.
    Well, to my surprise, out of over 400 applicants, 5 made it through to core courses. The rest of them were automatically enrolled into something called a foundation program. I guess that would provide them a fighting chance to come to grips with the subjects.
    Anyway ... I get to the first year and lo and behold, 1/2 the students in the class had failed previously. Once again the math course involved elementary algebra, the science is a little more advanced and the English course involves comprehension and improvement of writing skills.
    Assignments given a month prior to the submisson date are feverishly completed with only seconds to spare on the day of submission. Oh, and did i mention its not the student himself but his "friend", the guy from SQU, Caledonian, Nizwa .... anything name with college or university behind it. What even more laughable is a basic algebraic equation that the student cannot solve, is handed to a third year student, he will review and submit to his friend at the other college, who in turn will hand this over to a full fledged countryman engineer working in the field, who will ponder on it for 15 days and hand back a blank piece of paper.
    This just covers subjects such as math and science, which as you know have exact answers. Assignments in English start with the phrase "First of all, blah blah blah blah ......."
    On the first day of the engineering drawing class ..the teacher instructed the students that circles would be drawn with a compass. A student puts his hand up and says he has one on his phone. As if that was not bad enough the rest of them feverishly start checking their phones to see if they have one ....... You cannot make this up ...........
    Its not the teachers fault. The best are hired to teach. The administration at this particular college is also trying its very best to establish a standard.
    Conversations in class amongst students are generally about the car they want, or the imaginary girl/women they were with, or the fight that never really happened.
    I'd say, out of 30 students in the class, there are 2 who actually have potential. And of these 2, one may not be able to continue into the next year because of financial constraints. Its that one student that the government should take an interest in.
    Oman has to revamp its education system. And if they want to do it in a hurry, they will have to set the bar higher, select the best and the brightest, on merit of course, use the talented teachers that they have and create a student body that can be made an example for others to emulate.
    The people in charge in the various ministries may also have to be replaced by actual proven academics and not paper pushers, or paper weights as the case currently is.

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  11. I , as well as anyone really concerned about education in Oman, had a sad feeling to read this article and the interview. A total fact, both at private and government IHEs. This is what happens when administrators rule universities and colleges and academics are brushed aside, when you empower students and their 'sheikh' parents over faculty trying hard to teach them at no avail.

    Faculty get calls from Student Advisory Center (Grievance center?) reminding me that student xyz is on his last semester, so consider this when you mark his/her grade!!! Right, sir, I will. Because if I do not, I will be asked to review the final exam, find a way to get him off the system - his failure becomes my problem.
    So why bother, my course won't add much to the long list on his honorable manuscript anyways!

    As for private IHEs, as mentioned above, they are meant to suck the remaining money on the hands of poor parents wanting some diploma for their kids. Totally useless education, no skill is gained whatsoever.

    What can be done to change this situation:
    1- Take out the paranoid security officers and egocentric administrators from campuses, those think campuses are army camps, ruled by the whip and the lash.
    2- House the students on campus and provide a true and free intelligent educational environment.
    3- Bring quality educators (not those from the outskirts of Dhaka, (with all due respect).
    4- Enforce quality in curriculum and teaching
    5- Test the outcome of your quality teaching, have all students do exit exams to ensure they are qualified to graduate
    6- Reward, not punish, teachers who are in your opinion are "harsh" on "poor" students.

    Good luck with the first one though!!

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  12. Unfortunately, all SQU graduates who have applied for jobs at my workplace were not accepted. Their CVs were amazing, but seriously their english levels were so low - and they did not have any BASIC idea of what their degree meant! It was so disappointing to leave the interview room with another "F"...

    I hope things change in 2010, or at least 2010 holds the beginning of the change.

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  13. SQU has an Acting Dean at College of Commerce for last 2 years. They did not recruit Dean. They have vaccancies for Professors but they dont fill it and rely on Adjuncts who are close relatives and friends of department heads

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  14. I have been reading the above comments with alot of interest. Before i go any further i must say that i know Mr Ali Bhayan personally, and i know him well enough to say that he is not an authority in higher education. He spent most of his career in Oman as a teacher/administrator of a vocational institute, he left that institute and got a job in banking institute thru his connections with one executive of central bank who basically owns the institute. he was asked to resign from the banking institute. he was one of the guys who never cared about the quality of education in Oman and cared more about the quantity to impress his bosses, as he took a challenge to double/triple/quadripple the student population in that institute. He was one the guys who actually help contribute to much of the problems he articulated in his interview/article. anyway i wish him well.

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  15. as with regards to many of other problems mentioned by others i.e. packman, nadia, devils adv, blabrng cam, non-crwn prncs, justcurious annonyms, the problems do exist no doubt about that, I ama quite familiar with many of the problems, but u guys are banging Omani system coz u r familiar with it, u dont know whats going on in the neighboring countries, furthermore, the problems of cheating/plagiarising are not endemic to oman or this region, its all over the world. USA, UK, Australia, NZ, Germany, and the rest of the rest of the world cheating and plagiarising is part of the student life. i am quite familiar of Oma HEI public and private and let me tell u that while the standards both providers are not something that i would be proud of for our society but i take pride with our standards we start to compare with others in the region. furthermore, standards will not improve on this region as long as we Omanis do not take the lead in the higher education sector. what i mean to say unless more Omanis wana teach in this sector, teaching as a career not to go seek a teaching in a college or SQU coz u didn't get a job for long period of time after u gradated, and along the way u see an advert from the the Colleges of Technology or colleges of applied technology or private colleges and there u show up to apply for the sake of a job not bcause u wanted to teach in the first place. standards will only improve if more omanis who want to give away knowledge will get opportunities to teach, coz they will be rresponsible and be held accountable for the quality they produce.
    on the point of funding by government, yes private colleges need funding to support quality education. however, there should be one condition that private colleges will not and should not provide dividens to the shareholders. in ideal situation all colleges should be for non-profit, but we dont have such a system in oman as yet, and most investors who are in higher education they did it to get their buck back fast, they dont realize HEd sector is a different ball game its a major league stuff. as a result deans are under pressure to produce surplus, by cutting corners mainly by getting the maximum input/output from low paying high classroom contact hours instructors. some colleges are making about 50% return on their investments, how about that? low paying intructor will teach more than 18hrs/wk with more than 25 students/per class, what do u expect the outcome? ofcourse the academic quality will be very low. many colleges almost guarantee students to graduate with high grade degree.

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  16. Ministry of higher education is trying hard to maintain and control quality, but i'm sorry to say that they dont have the resources, its moral equvalent of an ill equipped army going to war.
    guys, all said and done, and pointing fingers to whoever u want, we also have to remember that, higher education (especially private higher education) is a new phenomenon in Oman, it is only 15yrs old, the country is still on a learning curve, let us hope with the involvment of more omanis in the sector things (quality) will improve. government could do alot of good if they do few things to help higher education providers which might help enhance quality: 1. as the ministry is constrained by resources re-allocate their resources to enhance quality; 2. let there be equal opportunity for all colleges to compete for government funding, eg. all higher education providers public/private be paid according to number of students enrolled and those colleges; 3. scholarship to be given to eligible omanis in public/private higher education, those who have proven worthy; 4. if the above three are implemented, then governemnt should encourage prive providers to provide incentives to distinguish omani lecturers, government also have recognize them.

    i can go on and talk about alot of other things Omani/s can do to help the country.

    packman, i agree with u about affiliation, all colleges are affiliated with foreign universities they pay those univerisites alot of money ranging 7%-15% of their gross revenues. (i heard only one college in Oman mcbs doesnt coz of one of the shareholder and founder of that college is a graduate of university of missouri st. louis, and therefore their affiliation is purely professional and academic, therefore, they dont pay franchise fees. if thats true i wish all colleges have that kind of afiliation). most of the foreign university dont give a damn what quality local affifiliate provide to the society they care how much they receive! but these affiliates are all over the region, making money from local societies.

    let us hope with time and good people around we will be able to build a strong society for our children.

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  17. agreeing with the fact that (probably) in neighbouring states the issues are worse – but Oman is our home and its so disappointing to have bright students who are so far from being stretched that perhaps they are compressed .
    It cant do the country any good to have people go through an education system , acquire a passing slip of paper through whatever means, use that slip to obtain a job with responsibility and abrogate , fudge or simply be incapable of undertaking any effective role in work issues.
    The issue of poor quality education is moaned about ad nauseum in Britain and probably the sky rocketing fees in Private schools there and in Oman demonstrate how people walk with their feet

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  18. I read Muscat Confidential very regularly but rarely comment on it.I was really impressed by the article. Rather Dr. Bhayani is known to me and due to him I got my ACCA qualifications. He brought the most difficult qualification in Oman and delivered it with rigour.Many students who were got introduced to ACCA was beacuse of him. When we looked around for colleges who were giving traditional degrees which were just papers, Dr. Bhayani introduced us to ACCA. Even at College of Banking he established University of Bradford Degree programme and my sister studies there and it is quite rigourous. It is all work and NO play.It was nice to see his article and comment.Best Wishes for you

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  19. MCBS has a notorious record of passing students. Missouri is least concerned about what is happeneing there. Stealth1, I want to correct you. Banking institute is not owned by anyone. It is a givernment institute and a college from year 2002. I did not like your personal comment about the author. Our Prophet has said 'see what is said and not who is saying that'. You personal griveiences with author can be sent directly to him and not mentioned here. I will request UD to edit or remove such a comment

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  20. I hope this forum will help contribute intelectually to the issue of quality higher (and all levels of education) education in Oman.
    i wana clarify few points, in writing my comments they should not be construed as i condone the status quo in the quality of higher edu, but rather what i meant to communicate is that to build and achieve quality education doesn't take 15yrs it certainly didn't that 15yrs to build Havard, yale, oxford, etc. to set high standards, implement and achieve them at any level of education is a function of time, determination, proper allocation of resources.
    second, i did not dispute what programs mr ali brought to Oman, i talked about management of those programs. (by the wy the info i have about bradford is that it was negotiated before he joined banking college, he implemented that, so i ws told).
    third, packman, a). i know that banking college is owned by central bank and what i meant ""with one executive of central bank who basically owns the institute"". the ''who owns..." i meant central bank NOT the person. b. i have no personl grievances with the author, if giving someone's background/professional history u call it ""grievances"" then its too bad. then all the comments posted above are somewhat grievances about someone, something, government, system, etc, then we should not even discuss anything by your definition of ""grievances"". c. i hv checked your info about mcbs, let me share what i learned from my surces, mcbs has an attrition rate of 25-30% semester/yr, that is high by any standards, i asked the reason, answr: students can't keep up with the program especially foundation, they transfer to other local colleges, ministry students are also withdrawn and trnasfer to other local colleges coz the students can't make it there, i ws asked, what incentive does mcbs have to pass students, they dont hv any pressure from affiliates coz their relationship isnt commercial? those two indicators of attrition rate and academic non-commercial relatiship are good enough to dispute ur statement, sir. (the above info was provided to this writer by soemone associated with mcbs).

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  21. I dont know what hidden interest Stealth1 has in MCBS. Possibly he is a shareholder wanting to dsipose off his share by projecting higher qualiy. Students are leaving MCBS due poor management. There is a puppet dean there and a CEO who controls everything. CEO is a shareholder and does not agree with other sahreholders and there are regular fights. There is a complete lack of direction.

    By the way University of Missouri St. Louis does not have a very good reputation. It is not even a Tier 3 university. It is a Tier 4 university means having a rank much below other US university. We should not confuse St. Louis with University of Missouri columbia. They have similar name. Columbia is Tier 1 and while St. Louis is Tier 4.

    Here is a respected ranking from US News which is widely used for ranking US universities

    http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges/compare/items+2454+2516+2517+2518+2519

    CEO of MCBS is a graduate of this Tier 4 university and has brought the same quality here in Oman. He was tasked with reform of Higher College of Techonology (he critised when he was in HCT) as undersecretary but failed miserably and was removed.

    By the away affiliates are paid irrespective whether students pass or not.

    When we dont wait in using new technologies and adopt it very quickly, why we should wait in adopting good practices in higher education. 15 years is good amount of time to learn from others. Wise people learn from others mistakes, fools learn from their own.

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  22. i have no any particular interest, and i think ur info is too shallow, and i think u r turning this forum to insult people who have nothing to do with what has been discuss. if u have any issue with any of the persons u mentioned in ur last comments please why not meet them n tell him/them wht u wrote here in person including the undersec who "failed miserabley", i'm sure he will be happy to meet u, coz i know him personally, i had the opportunity to work with him at some assignemnt in the ministry n m familiar with his demeanor, it appears u also have some issue with him.
    no wonder people in the develping countries dont move forward coz they cannot have a constructive dialog without insulting each other, and u represent typical those kinds of ppl.
    thank u sir, and wish u well.

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  23. I dont have any issue with him. Personally he is a nice person. I wanted to point out that when a CEO who could not improve quality of higher college of technology cannot improve quality of MCBS. at higher quality of technology he had power and resources. I did not wanted to insult him personally. I have not even taken his name here. I want to convey that MCBS is not a quality college neither does care about quality. And now it is up for sale due to poor management....

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  24. I find this incredibly funny. Mr Biryani worked for Oman in Oman for 12 years, and only discovered the system was broke when he was thrown out of his previous job.

    He is neither credible or authorative on this matter. Neither are you.

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  25. Thank god he did not criticise while he was here or he would be in trouble. Saleh Shabani, an Omani, who used to write a column called Desert Clasics in Khaleej times was in trouble and had to stop writing it. He was just honest and was giving constructive criticism. People here are NOT tolerant to criticism and they get personal.

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  26. i read most of the comments and i find appauling that ppl personalize it. i dont want to get into the loop, i cant help it to say, that packman u r way out of line. i find what u wrote about that person as insulting to our intelingence, coz me and many ppl in oman knows the person u r talking he is well known and well respected in higher educ circle and we hold him in high regards for his contribution in the fiel. if i list his achievements during his short tenure i need alot more space than just this focum. calling him a failure i think u r way out of line. its enough he changed the system in Higher/Colleges of Techollegy he is responsble for hiring largest number of omani cadre send them abroad for higher education and train them to take teaching positions aprogram that is emulated by ministry of higher.
    i agree of stealth1 that ur info is too shallow, it seems u r terribly hurt about ur friend mr ali. i know plenty about mr ali how he lost his first job at vision institute, he got a job at college of banking, and he lost that job and how u and others have been trying to keep him here.
    as i said i dont want to personalize this.
    it is better to shut these comments off or let Undercover Dragon investigate the ppl mentioned here, their achievments/failures and post it for further discussions.
    i agree w/stealth1 about ppl in developing countries, instead of us coming up with ideas to help our country packman u have turned this into personal attack, let us grow up a little. and stealth1 mayb u shouldnt have mentioned ali name

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  27. Dear all,
    you miss one serious point. The credentials and quality of the author is irrelevant.
    PROPER education = critical thinking = capacity to DOUBT = willing to CRITICIZE & CHANGE...
    Oman, a country i love as much as my own, the same as the other Gulf Muslim countries, are trapped into their religious "non-changing", non-debatable beliefs.
    Kids, when in the West, are pushed to read books on several authors and subjects, here, in the best case scenario they are pushed to memorize religious text.
    I completely respect this. But you have to understand that those 2 things do not go together.
    With all the respect to everyone

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  28. I agree with anonymous that people here are stubborn. We will go away today or tomorrow but people of Oman need to realise what core competencies they have in face of China and India. China has manufacturing expertise. India has service expertise. After Oil gets over what core competencies would keep this beautiful nation from ticking. It would be another Somalia. Quality higher education is only resort available. Whether the author lost his job or he left on his own is debatable. And even if he lost his Job it does not portray badly on his expertise. Holy Prophet of Islam was oppressed by Meaccans and they refuse to belive in him and finally he had to leave after 13 years.

    If higher colleges of techonology is so much reformed then can anyone give its credibility in Job market. Reserach competitiveness and graduate employability is the result by which we should judge. Reason why I raised MCBC issues was some shareholders here who wanted to offlad their stake tried to praise Missouri which is a tier 4 university. Not Third Class but FOURTH class. No answer to that at all. Rather than answering this there were personal attacks.

    If MCBS is so bold let them bring a Bradford like FT 100 listed university. Affiliate with them and teach 150 students (tough entry requirements) and then brag here about quality. Rather, MCBS is commercial and has sahreholders and need volumes to sustain. Nothing wrong in it. But then dont brag about quality.

    MCBS need intake of 200 students to sustain. If they fix entry requirements at 75% (secondary school) and IELTS 6.0 they will not get those. Beacuse there are not more than 200 students available after SQU/ FREE seats available to take paid seats with high scores. They would rather prefer to go abroad.

    It is high time entry requirements are adhered honestly in order to improve higher education. If we take garbage in the system, only garbage will come out. Even best of college cannot train underprepared and low quality students being churned out of school system.

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  29. I've mentioned the critical thinking thing in my previous post, the first point. But y'know, critical thinking = knowing more about truth, which can be dangerous sometimes. The stupider, the easier to be controlled. I guess this is how Arab peoples are wanted to be!!

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  30. Dear Princess,
    you describe it very nicely... WHen you are properly educated, u do not settle for dogmas, u ask questions, u doubt and therefore you are VERY "uncomofortable" for any ruling group, be that political or religious...
    It is called the mushroom theory: Feed them shit and keep them in the dark. Coz dear friends, the system is in the Dark Ages still.
    School graduates in Oman, would have serious entry problems in MOST universities. It is not only the result of poor schooling. It is also the result of lack of discipline from home, lack of study system etc etc.
    CRITICAL THINKING means going AGAINST what other people believe as a certainty only because your data point you that way. Even if that is against your parents beliefs... Ooooops... no can do...
    Have a nice, constructive and free thinking day people...

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  31. Anonymous you have picked up the problem. Apart from schooling it is discupline, attitude and work culture that matters. So even if you get admission you will not be able to complete the course.

    To circumvent the problem, colleges here have affiliated themselves to tier 3 and tier 4 colleges. Simply beacuse there would be both easy entry and easy exit.

    In prestigious programs, entry would be limited and also there would be lot of dropouts as students will not able to cope. Ministry needs to support such programs for long term development of the country.

    At least have one university which is ranked amongst top 50 in the world.

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  32. Good to see so many comments on this vital topic. I have come very recently to Oman and working for Higher College of technology. I am frustrated by both attitude and knowledge of students. How can you make a horse dreink water when horse is not willing to drink the water. You can take horse to water. You can bring water to horse. But difficult to make horse drink water. I am so impressed by this country and king here but very frustrated with students. I am not teaching here but acting in the class.worst i am not allowed to fail anyone.i am just looking forward for the end of contract date to exit and teach students who are trainable

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  33. I worked at a College in Oman for 2 years what shocked me was the first month I was there I had to invigilate exams. I was amazed that the students asked me the answers. I was like sorry i can't tell you the answers. Anyway a few minutes later the subject teacher came in and the students shouted out a number of questions and the teacher told them the answers. Imagine after less than a month realising what a sham education is in Oman. In my first year the college had some good staff but after seeing what the reality of life was like they all left and what remained were the dregs of society.
    The students were friendly enough but know matter how bad a student was he would never be asked to leave. If you reported a student for being absent over the presecribed limit then you made work for the locals who did not much enjoy this and you got to the stage when you were just like ok whats the point. The belief amongst most teachers was that the MoHE did not really want education just crowd control and that was what we were paid to do. We had classes of 30 sometimes.
    Many times we had to change students grades or bump them up 5 percent on the wishes of someone. Books were never delivered for the start of the semester. Aggresive HODs telling teachers he hated them. We had it all. The plagarism and systematic cheating was shocking but when the teachers help the students in this what is going to change. I had students reference www.essaycheats.com and www.buyyouressayonline.com In our city we were far and away the best educational establishment. Imagine how crap the others must of been and people paid money to go to one of these.
    Education in Oman is a joke but what is the alternative all those youths angry and with nothing to do.

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  34. Guys it all start at school when you are a baby....that is where controlling quality starts!!!!By the time you're at University you should be able not only to listen but contribute...However, currently those who make it to the HEI , who are ideally around the top 25% of Oman's High school out-put every year, require complete basic build up. This is not a fault of their own or shortage of their analytical skills, not at all, this is because of an education system that has been built by Oman which:
    1- Burden Teachers with activities that has nothing to do with education;
    2- Burden students at early age with having to take a number of classes for long hours with another 40 kids in one class room. This resulted in little of everything but nothing is solidly built;
    3- Any autonomy is reserved to the clan at the ministry’s head office and its branches , teachers who are in the ground are out of any development equation;
    4- Poor language basics ( both Arabic and English)…

    And the worst of all , and I speak of myself now, there is hardly any free choice on what direction or field you want to study…they whole HE system is built around what % you got as an overall scoring in your high school will decide if you go to medical college or the least liked choice college of Arts!! Now you have, for example, tons of teachers, am talking about schools prior to University levels, who don’t like teaching nor do they like the subject they teach!!! But having a choice between going to the street or getting any job with a salary…one will most likely go for the any job with a Salary.
    Conclusion the equation of “waste in = waste out” comes to play here. Solution is back to the drawing board and it really means back to when kids at the age of 5 starts going to any form of institute!!!

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  35. Hi Dragon, It was a great post. My, what a mess eh? I have now left Oman, but I can tell you that this scenario runs right through every aspect of Omani life - and by that I mean EVERY aspect. I'm sure you know this all too well... its crocked from top to bottom. Its just the way it is and always has been/will be. Its verboten to peek behind the curtain. Folk are shackled, a reformation is needed, but that's something of a biggie. A seeming no, no. So it goes.

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  36. No government in world comes to power without support of business commuinty right from the time human bieng first learned to form governments. Consequently governments sole interest is to serve business commuinty. Private colleges in Oman raking up hefty profits are the worst effected and exposed by such interviews and therefore they will try everything on face of the earth to save their interests. This includes licencing, selective omanisation, government intervention, media controlled, silencing the critics etc. It is not unusual to see this happening all around the world. However, education is normally spared from clutches of business commuinty. However, in Gulf government funded education is available for few while rest have to rely on private education which is not only expensive but worthless.

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  37. I am a regular reader of your blog,UD even though I have never commented.I am an expat working in Oman for the past 4 years.The topic is very relavant.Any body who is in Oman for 6 months will be aware that the state of Higher Education is pathetic and the end product unemployable.
    A pointer to the actual state of HE in Oman and to where it is headed can be guaged from the preface to the Ministry of Higher Education web site in "English" ( (www.mohe.gov.om).See the English.Then how can the institutes/universities under its supervision be any better.

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  38. Dear Expats (including Pockman)

    Please send your opinions, comments, and stories about Oman and its poor HE system to my email address omanyou@googlemail.com

    We all need your help in highliting the poor quality and corrupted systems in Oman and expose it to the surface, hoping some of them will feel shame about his/her planing and administrational abilities!

    I will translate your topics to Arabic, and publish it under, referring to your nickname or blog (if you wish) in the Sablat Oman (www.s-oman.net), very popular Omani website! You can reach governmental sectors via this website.

    Pockman you seem to be very knowledgable about Oman HE and you had the chance to experience its poor quality and corrupted systems. Unfortunately, I coulnt find your email address in your blog. So if you have any thing supported with stories and facts please contact me!


    Thanks

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  39. It's not just higher education or education; PDO giving road safety contracts to certain Institutes is like putting Garry Glitter in charge of a Kintergarden school!

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  40. It is very easy to make witty and sarcastic comments about this, very drastic situation that Oman is in. I will just conclude with what I see is a fitting quotation...''there are none so blind as those who do note wish to see''

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  41. oman please dont waste your time these expats and non expats who bad rapp oman are a bunch of hypocriticals who do nothing but create uncertainties in a place where they earn their living and providing them with a very blanket to cover themselves at nite a blanket of job security. they are not only highlighting the problems in HEd in oman but they are responsible in contributing to the mess they are talking about in this blog.
    if they really are sincere and care about this country and if they are passionte about education at any level they would have talked to their employers or ministry or someone but NOT HERE. but they didnt have the guts to do so fearing losing their bread, so they were/are happy to add poison to the system "if what they say is true".
    i have seen ppl writing about going to jail or getting in trouble if they talk about problems mentioned, that is not true and thats a thing of the past fellas!!! so dont try to scare ppl just to keep this blog going we are in a adifferent age, and u guys wake up and smell some OMANI coffee!!!! :-)

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  42. I would loved to have read this article. But as one who teaches and has taught in one of the Ministry of Man Power Colleges...i can truly say my experience was a, and please let me spell it, J- O - K- E.

    I worked with 'teachers' who couldn't speak English clearly, managers who were intoxicated and passed out in the staff room, and whom carried lots of wasta. Flies, no books, no cirriculum, no page numbers on books, and most of all teachers being physically threatened by students, and then berated by management.

    Nightmare is another word I use for my experience at one of the esteemed Ministry of Manpower Colleges.

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  43. Dear All,

    Please do not blame to Higher Education.

    DISTANT DRUMS ARE SWEET.

    Every country in this world have number of problems.

    So please do not find fault in others. Please look in yourself u will get many problems.

    if you correct yourself whole system will automatically fixed.

    Thanks.

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  44. As an educator for 5 years in one of the colleges in the Sultanate of Oman, I am still not comfortable of the level of students we have. They are still far behind than other countries in just so many ways. They easily got tired in the class and many of them (very safe at 80%)behave like students in the secondary schools. Their analytical skill is still poor, their logic is far off, and their ability to speak english is still horrible. I do not blame or curse them. They are actually victims of poor foundation in education. Many of them told us that their elementary and secondary course are focused on memorization only. The teachers in this level need more training. Now the higher education is suffering because of this. Yes, 5 years back, i see improvement. Specially with the female students. But they have to work hard if they are serious.

    Many students do not read books. If you give them assignment, they do not know how to research in the library. They prefer to do it in the internet and use the cut and paste method. They dont bother to read what they have copied.
    They ask all the details as to what book to research even asking you in what page you can find it.

    Some students are even arrogant, prentending that they already knew things. I observe that in our college, the Omani staff have these attitudes. Comes 1 in the afternoon, and all of the locals are gone when they are supposed to end their work by 3 pm. Can they become a good model? This is not to say bad to them. . . but this is the reality. I come here to share. . . to help. . . to educate.. . I am not giving up and I beleive we still have time to recover.

    To the locals, be honest were you stand. When you have self denial, you have no way to go but down.

    To the expats, examine your role in the system. Be honest in your work too.

    These need collaboration by all of us.

    These students need help. And that help must come from top down.

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  45. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  46. I have thought over 3 years in the College os Oman and despite my international credential, I preferred to work here especially that i found out that the level of education is so low. Educators like me need to provide assistance to young Omani so as to make this country grow. I stop teaching in Canada, Australia and even Japan once I found Oman because the society need of. Now, I felt sad that there are mass number of lecturer going out because the pay is very low. i CAN NOT BLAME THEM. The ministry of manpower is seem clueless on this and if ever they will give increases this year, its just a minimal amount. This will not be good in oman as it will not attract good educators to come here and force others who are here to go out as well. They should provide the best compensation if they want their education to be developed.

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  47. the comments seems to be interesting.....
    but now im confused..i don't know which college or university(squ) would be good for ACCA courses...i have completed half the papers of CAT and planing to do the rest of the papers of CAT in cbfs.....
    now im confused wdr i should continue my studies in cbfs for ACCA or join SQU....
    by the way what im aware of is that that the education system here might not be up to the mark because i heard many omanis find it difficult to cope up with.......and even in omani schools the education system is different i guess...not like the edexcel curriculum.
    students who are a frequent reader of newspaper and other scientific stuffs they will be aware of LHC and that pluto is not a planet..then about quarks.nuclear fusion and fision...then making genetical plant which can cure hepatisis...etc.....i learned about these in grade 9 and 10.....but as i was interestd in sci-fi stuffs,,i used to keep record of many things...so 1 way its how eager the students are,,,if they want to achive somethng then they should do what the teacher tells them....even the teachrs need to have a systmtc way of teachin which might make the students focus on their studies.....

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  48. Just read these very interesting comments - I teach in Oman and, to answer comments I saw earlier, students usually have enough English to enter the course but need continuous improvement (especially as college is usually the only place they speak English) and I disagree that students know about Omani history and the current situation - their knowledge is sketchy as best.

    I can only comment on the students I teach but they are victims of a system that encourages memorisation and little critical thought. It takes time to develop skills and all we can do as teaching staff is to plug away and hope that we reach one out of one hundred.

    I also teach beside Omani's and I am a supporter of Omanisation but the problem is often a lack of commitment and a tendancy to 'coach' - remember, they too came through the present system.

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  49. The government's concept of free education does not make young omanis good at all. Only the deserving youth should enjoy free education. This concept of free education is not only costly to the government but also keeping omani youth from taking education for granted. My 5 years of close supervision to these students lead to nowhere. Here are my observation.

    1. There is a denial from the higher authorities with regard to omanis skills. Ask any expatriate working in any industry how these omanis work. They tend to be lazy, too complascent, and worst their level of skills is still far off. Many leaders turn their blind eyes on these.

    2. Students (90% is safe) want marks only. They will do cheat in the class, 99%, im sure.

    3. The projects they prepared and presented are very elementary. Too simple and yet so imperfect

    4. They dont like to be pressured. They hate it They just want to relax as if education is like a picnic

    5. If the students complain, the higher authorities listen to them than to the teachers. They are spoiled brat. They are making their country bad.

    6. Its only in this country that parents of college students go to teachers and beg to keep the marks of their children high. Or not, wasta will come along.

    7. The use of sub-contracting expat teachers are not doing anything good. Bahwan, Global network, and TATI make much money out from the hardwork of the teachers.

    8. The teachers in OmAN are receiving less salary compared to its neighboring countries. A sizeable number will shift outside considering that these teachers were not given any increase in salary this year. An increase of 50 rials for this year can not even cope inflation.

    9. Lack of discipline

    10. They have not seen and experienced that outside of their country, the students are far- off better than them.

    The college students here think, behave, and act like elementary students.

    They need more help

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  50. Hi all,
    I stumbled into this site accidentally and it seems quite interesting.
    After reading most of the posts I'm left wondering if this site is actually a forum to suggest improvements or is it for just cribbing.
    I do not have even the remotest connection to the education field. But I have had the opportunity to work with many natives at different levels.
    Like in any other country or an organisation, Oman also has its leaders (about 5%), the followers (about 65%) and the incompetents to fill the numbers.
    From what ever I have seen, i can vouch that the leaders are of high calibre. While the incompetents are the same as anywhere else, the followers is where the problem lies.
    Some of you may not agree with me. But it is a fact that leaders are generally born and they are determined to excel in whatever they do. So is the case with the top 5% in Oman.
    For the 65% of the mediocre who are followers, the value of education and work ethics are still alien concepts. But again, we must try and analyse the reason behind the lethargy and the casual attitude.
    Oman is relatively young in terms of development of infrastructure, education et al. The expatriate population come from countries which have matured educational system developed over many decades. Are we fair in comparing the relatively younger system in Oman?
    Then take the cultural background of the natives. Most of them have spent their youth in rural areas and agriculture or animal husbandry have been the main activities. Coming from such a background, one is not expected to have mastery over any foreign language. They have been peace loving people with hardly any exposure to the rat race called competition as seen in other parts of the world. Further the community support to the poor and weak is a tradition in this country.
    The current generation is caught in the transition period and they are coping with the situation as best as they can. I am sure the following generation will have the advantage of parental supervision at home to instill the required discipline, respect for education and work ethics.
    So folks, if all of us are around in the next 20 years, probably we will see a more diligent and sincere workforce with the required skills and knowledge to take care of their own affairs. That will be the day, they should thank the expats and say good bye.
    wanderer

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  51. i am poor omani student living in karachi...i studied till intermediate in pakistan and now i started acca... i need monthly allownace from oman government plzzzz help me.... my email is adeelsadruddin@gmail.com

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