Please; Do Not Give to Pressure…

By Fahed Khitan

تم نشره في Sun 13 November / Nov 2016. 01:00 AM
  • Fahed Khitan

The Minister of Higher Education, Dr Adel Tweisi, is a sedate scholar and academic, who measures up his every word. And it is exactly for that particular reason that were indeed worried by his last public statement; saying the Council for Higher Education will within the next two weeks consider allowing private universities to accept students with GPAs bellow 60 in the previous Tawjihi examination terms, meaning that there is an inclination to agree to this demand, which has been being pressed by the administration of private universities for months now.

A GPA less than 60 means that anyone with a score above 50 in the general high school exam can get into university, and get the degree they want.

Recently, the administrations and owners of private universities launched a campaign to pressure the government and the Ministry of Higher Education into lowering admission floors for their universities, following the drop in GPA result medians in the last Tawjihi sessions, after the official public universities took in most of the Tawjihi graduates with GPAs 65 and above.

In light of that, private universities, particularly those suffering from financial crises, began complaining, and some even threatened to close down.

Accordingly, this means that the only reason why the Council is going to concede to the demands of private universities is more or less related to economic and investor interests, outside the interests of the higher education sector itself, and its standing principle to limit university admission, and expand in the vocational and technical fields, which is crucial to keeping up with the actual requirements of the market.

Should the decision be made, it would allow tens of thousands to enrol for university degrees in either stagnant or saturated fields, without any added value, except for raising the numbers of unemployed graduates, and culminating the problem in Jordan.

Truth is, no one wants for the investors in the private universities sector to lose, but this over commercialisation of education tumbles the credibility of these universities as well as that of the higher education sector as a whole.

Since the very beginning, there has been an overall failure to plan the sector. And among the results of that failure were many concessions on our supposedly strict academic criteria, in favour of commerciality and investment; as if these private universities were coffee shops licensed in bulk, to the point that higher education has indeed become a commodity, in all the ways it can become so.

Undoubtedly, our universities’ capacity to absorb students, particularly in the last year, and for the above reasons, has shrunk. But compensating for the shortage on resources should not be sought by lowering admission levels, but rather in the innovation of attractive and demanded specialties and majors, reasonably priced, to compete with government universities, coupled with a general cut down on unnecessary expenditures in private universities, and they are any! Next to that, much could be done to attract students from neighbouring Arab states, at a time many states have shut their gates before students from the Gulf, and for many reasons too.

Unfortunately, it seems the private sector has become more or less like the public; un-innovative, and unwilling to explore options. Instead, the private sector finds it easier to adapt readily available solutions, which may very well but unfitting, even if it were on the expense of quality, while at the same time, weighing heavy on the government sector to extract them from their own failure!

We hope the Council for Higher Education really does thoroughly look into the proposition, and reject it.