Consortium for Quality Online Learning: Changing Gulf education
The UAE seems to have taken its online education a leap forward by coming up with a Consortium for Quality Online Learning (UCQOL), joint venture of the UAE Ministry of Education and the Abdulla Al Ghurair Foundation for Education. The UCQOL was launched the as ‘a new initiative that aims to support select UAE universities in developing accredited online university programmes and launch them by 2022.’ In a joint virtual meeting the two entities launched the consortium as a mark of ‘of two-year public private partnership intent on making high quality accredited online programmes accessible to a wider pool of students in the UAE and beyond’, reported the Gulf news. This will help to increase the collaboration among universities in the UAE and will also enhance their capacities in the online learning process.
The initiative is seen as a project to support the UAE universities which want to develop and deliver high quality programmes. “The Abdulla Al Ghurair Foundation for Education will provide UCQOL member universities with various forms of support including structured needs assessments, faculty and instructional designer training, and grants to support the design and delivery of their online programmes”, mentioned the report. Moreover, the UCQOL will also act as a platform of collaboration, exchange and advocacy group to further the interest.
This will also promote the innovation in education and National Strategy for Higher Education 2030, as planned by the UAE government, to address future challenges. This initiative follows the ‘the 2019 release by the Ministry’s Commission for Academic Accreditation (CAA) of a clear and robust framework and standards for accrediting online degree programmes in the UAE’. This is seen as a robust effort by the government to ‘facilitate the process and incentivise universities to put forward high-quality online degree programmes.’ Dr Muhammad Al Mualla, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Education for Academic Affairs of Higher Education, stressed “on the importance of moving forward in adding new dimensions to university education at the national level by adopting the best pioneering academic options.” The Abdullah Al Ghurair Foundation for Education joined the initiative to achieve the vision of the Ministry of Education, to increase the provision of national academic experiences to keep pace with the rapid developments that affect the nature of education now and in the future.
He explained that the ministry is working in cooperation with all of its partners to provide higher education with the best experiences and innovative educational practices coordinated with the highest international standards in this field, enabling the higher education sector to achieve specific leaps that will reflect positively on the quality of the national academic outputs. It is considered as a leader in online learning since 2016. Through the Al Ghurair Open Learning Scholars Programme (OLSP), it has provided over 250 scholarships to Arab Youth to complete postgraduate degrees and credentials at Arizona State University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology online (MITx). Not only that it has also built blended learning capacity to build efforts at the American University of Cairo and Beirut along with the Maroun Semaan Faculty of Engineering and Architecture in this regard. “We are excited to launch a three-way partnership in the UAE because of a joint commitment with the Ministry and leading universities to making high-quality accredited online education part of the landscape of UAE higher education. I am confident that this project will have far-reaching outcomes not just in the UAE, but across the region.” said His Excellency Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair in his remarks at the launch event, mentions the Gulf News.