Ministry of Education places three universities on probation

The Ministry of Education has placed three universities on probation and ordered them to stop admitting students for the next academic year.

University of Jazeera in Dubai is one of the three universities put on a year’s probation by the Ministry of Education. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National
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ABU DHABI // The Ministry of Education has placed three universities on probation and ordered them to stop admitting students for the next academic year.

Al Hosn University in Abu Dhabi, and the University of Jazeera and University of Modern Sciences in Dubai, did not meet licensing and accreditation standards and will be suspended for a year.

Students already at the universities will not be affected.

“As part of our annual review of universities, we evaluate their academic programmes to ensure compliance with key benchmarks,” said Dr Ahmad Belhoul, Minister of State for Higher Education.

“These efforts will help to ensure that students are provided with the high-quality education they expect and deserve.”

Ittihad University in Ras Al Khaimah and Maktoum bin Hamdan Dental University College in Dubai had already been placed on probation.

The ministry's actions are "proof that standards of quality control are being upheld", said Dr Sanaa Ashour, author of a report on higher education in the UAE hat was published in the Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management.

“This is a strong message for other private institutions to strive to maintain quality in teaching, services and research, for them to keep up in the highly competitive market in the UAE.

“This measure is needed to avoid damaging the UAE’s reputation and the vigorous progress it has made in higher education.”

The move was also a warning to those universities operating below standards but yet to be caught, said Dr Ashour, also assistant professor at Al Khawarizmi International College in Abu Dhabi.

“The punishment for these universities proves that if higher education institutions in the UAE are favouring profit over quality, most likely they will face a similar risk of being suspended,” she said.

Representatives from the affected universities did not respond to requests for comment.

Students at Al Hosn University were aware of the decision, and some complained about a lack of facilities.

“New admissions were barred for a year but it’s not going to affect our studies,” said Ali Al Qubaisi, an Emirati who is studying elementary education in Arabic language and Islamic studies.

“There are no facilities for students here, we are just studying. Al Ain and Abu Dhabi universities have huge space, buildings and plenty of facilities for students.”

Mr Al Qubaisi said that even the university’s canteen was not operating.

Badar Al Suwaidi, 30, another Emirati student at Al Hosn, was also unsatisfied with the university’s facilities. He said university staff did not reply to student messages on social media during holidays, unlike other universities.

But Mr Al Suwaidi, in his third year studying education, said he appreciated the calm classroom environments.

“We are not affected by this ministry decision,” he said. “Everything is OK for us and faculty staff are good.”

Some students complained that faculty were not providing proper study guidelines, resulting in poor exam performances.

A K, 30, a mechanical engineering student, said that was especially true for those studying engineering, who needed more practical education.

Other students complained about not having enough parking space.

“We don’t have parking space here so we park beside the road. This is a problem every day,” one student said. “It’s been almost two years, but there is no cafeteria and no space for sports activities.

“After three and four-hour classes we get stressed but there is no stress-busting sporting activities and an area where we can engage in some games to release the stress.”