Sharjah Ruler launches hybrid education model for working students

Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi says University of Sharjah will offer flexible classes for those with families and work commitments

Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Ruler of Sharjah, launches flexible education schedules for students at the University of Sharjah. Photo: Wam
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Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Ruler of Sharjah, has launched a new hybrid education model at the University of Sharjah for working students.

The announcement was made during an interview on Sharjah Radio and Television's Direct Line programme.

Sheikh Dr Sultan said that the university will now allow working students to attend classes online, after a listener identified as "Umm Saud" explained the difficulties of attending classes due to work and family commitments.

"I feel sorry for the employed students who are unable to attend university regularly," Sheikh Dr Sultan said on Wednesday.

The decision will not only help me but other students I know who are grappling with similar issues
Ahmed Al Ketbi, 34

"The University of Sharjah will adopt a hybrid model, combining face-to-face and online education to assist these special cases.

"The student will be able to attend three classes online and one class in person."

Sheikh Dr Sultan said the education model will be applicable to students who can demonstrate a genuine need for a more flexible education schedule.

Dr Hussein Elmehdi, Dean of Academic Support Services at the University of Sharjah, praised the initiative.

"We are fully prepared to start providing this hybrid model as of this autumn semester, leveraging the experience and infrastructure built during the coronavirus crisis," he said.

He added that the model will be beneficial to various students, including those with special circumstances including medical reasons, employees and those living far from the campus.

"Students interested in this form of education can submit their request at the respective department, which will be considered by the dean of their respective colleges.

"However, it's essential to note the number of classes a student can attend online is limited depending on the nature of the course," he added.

He said all forms of assessment will be conducted in-person and within the university campus.

Praise for change

Mother of five Aisha Al Qaydi, 40, who works as a customer service officer at Sharjah's Roads and Transport Authority is among those praising the Ruler's decision.

"The night before the decision came through, I was in tears, praying for a way to make it through my final semester and graduate successfully," she told The National.

She said she was not the only one facing challenges in balancing work and education.

While her job does provide dedicated study hours, the university's schedule – which varies between morning and midday – posed a significant challenge.

"I considered reaching out to the radio about this issue. However, I hesitated as I didn't want it to be construed as a complaint against the university, which has been incredibly supportive in every aspect," Ms Al Qaydi said.

"During my pregnancy with my fifth child in the semester before last, the teaching staff went out of their way to offer me support."

She said they provided her with various methods and resources to help her continue her studies.

"The Sheikh has been like a father figure to us, constantly offering all manner of support for students," she added.

Ahmed Al Ketbi also had trouble balancing work with his study schedules.

The 34-year-old works at Sharjah's Department of Islamic Affairs and still has one semester to complete before obtaining his bachelor's degree in law.

"I'm often late for some lectures as the journey [to the university] takes about an hour, and on occasion I have even missed [lessons]," he told The National.

"The decision will not only help me but other students I know who are grappling with similar issues."

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Updated: August 30, 2023, 6:49 PM