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“Open Meeting” at Qatar University

May 23, 2012 - 3:30:22 am

Does anyone wonder about the reasons for a visit by the guardian or his equivalent to any of the entities in the country? The guardian, as you know, has permanent and full information about the working of government agencies, whereas, the minister and other systems, each according to his power, passes on the situation to His Highness. But who conveys the news of those authorities, and according to my point of view, he may convey the news in a way that might achieve some purpose. Therefore, the visit of a guardian to the location of an authority takes place because of his desire to hear the hidden and aspects of the workers and the beneficiaries as His Highness desires to develop the work for the better. But we, unfortunately, find that the authorities are racing to highlight the bright aspects of their work, and at the same time, are removing the facts which impede the required development. This is something that happened on the morning of Sunday, April 29, when Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, may Allah protect her, visited the University of Qatar. The university community knew about the visit on the next day through local newspapers. According to published news, Her Highness discussed, in an open meeting with the members of the governing body, teaching staff and students and which was organised by the university at the building of College of Education, the importance of the role of the University of Qatar as the national university. The visit in itself was not a surprise because we know that Her Highness likes to follow up all the proceedings, big and small, personally. But the surprise is the claim of the university that the open meeting with members of the governing body, teaching staff and students was an absolute ruling, while the meeting took place with some who were selected by the university, or have been selected by other authorities, we do not know them, for the purposes, I think personally, to support the approach undertaken by the university. The “selected audience” did not convey the true picture to Her Highness that the university has transferred hundreds of Qatari university staff and dozens of faculty members from Qatar were forced to take early retirement and were replaced in larger numbers by non-Qataris. (For more information, see the statistics by the Bureau of Statistics). The Qatari students are not in the best situation, as there are obstacles in front of them before they apply to the university and also during their education. Therefore, you will find that the percentage of students, members of faculty and staff at the university is very less which does not make it a national university.

The other issue is that the “selected audience” did not convey the true picture to Her Highness on how the university, with creative and innovative thinking, modifies the decision of the Supreme Education Council to arabise the language of instruction, and to abolish the foundation programme. The decision of the Supreme Education Council pleased all the citizens and residents, as it was very clear to cancel the foundation programme and calculate the decisions of the Foundation acquired within the requirements of the university. The university was not clear in this matter and it approved a mechanism to implement the decisions of the Supreme Education Council vaguely, and in some aspects contrary to the decisions of the council. (See the mechanism to implement the decision of the Supreme Council for Education issued by the university).

The call of Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser on the need to open channels of communication between faculty and students, work to understand their needs and solve their academic problems which impede their educational march at university, is a sincere call because Her Highness, earlier, was one of the students of Qatar University and she knows different issues and problems faced by the students. But, unfortunately, again, the “selected audience” did not convey to Her Highness that the rules governing the account of cumulative average, which were not applied in the days of Her Highness, are exposing the students to the separation from the university due to poor average. Even though we find that the Committee on Student Affairs does not approve an apology of the student if he had been warned, even if the student was receiving the clinical treatment in the hospital, so as to ensure the separation of the student from the university.

The result of all that is that the proportion of the total number of Qatari students in recent years has declined. The problem is that the poor students cannot bring a case against the university because of mistakes of guidance or the mistakes of the system of admission, registration and account courses because the directory of the university provides that the student shall bear all the mistakes that occur.

The “open meeting” which I knew later, was planned with great care and in good standing of the position of Her Highness in the state and in our hearts, but it is shameful that the official site of the university mentions that “Qatar University is a scientific and intellectual community characterised by open dialogue and free exchange of ideas and constructive debate.” At the same time the subject of the visit of Her Highness to this academic edifice is covered in full confidentiality, in fear of “freedom of exchange of ideas and constructive debate” and the same is announced on the pages of newspapers as “an open meeting”.

The visit of Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser to the university is a good initiative, carries a lot of progress and urbanisation as it was made by a good personality who carries a lot of love and goodness for the nation and citizens, and I wish that the effects of this good visit do not perish as soon as Her Highness leaves the building of the campus. I wish, at the same time, that the office of Her Highness, after this visit, will take initiative to establish a developmental committee to open a dialogue with the university community, away from the conventional faces and their foreign experts, to view the aspirations, ideas and hopes of the university community and to undertake following up the implementation of the real recommendations given by the Office of Her Highness, in coordination with the Board of Trustees, and this step will result, as I see it, in a quantum and excellent leap in the performance of the university.