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Shura Council Hosts Higher Education Minister
Shura Council Hosts Higher Education Minister

Shura Council Hosts Higher Education Minister

Muscat, 24 Jun (ONA) --- The Shura Council today held its 10th regular session of the first annual convening during the 10th term.

During the session, the Council hosted Dr. Rahma Ibrahim Al Mahrouqi, Minister of Higher Education, Research and Innovation, to discuss the Ministry’s statement which covered policies, programmes, strategies and five-year plans pertaining to developing higher education, vocational training, research and innovation.

The session was attended by Khalid bin Hilal Al Maawali, Chairman of the Council.

Dr. Rahma said that an observable rise in enrollment rates in higher education institutions in Oman was coupled with stronger ties of cooperation with corresponding institutions in Arab and friendly countries. The outcome was the allocation of more scholarships for Omani students to study abroad. The scholarships include 206 annual scholarships for study in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, 50 annual scholarships for study in the Republic of Hungary and 22 annual scholarships for Omani students to study in the French Republic.

The minister added that three private higher education institutions in the Sultanate of Oman received scholarships funded by “Erasmus Plus” student exchange programme for European Union countries for the first time. She noted that institutions were those of “Al Buraimi University”, the “German University of Technology (GUtech Oman)” and “Dhofar University”.

The minister pointed out that the education-based training programme (Eidad), first launched in academic year 2020/2021, benefited students in the penultimate year of graduation. She explained that, during academic year 2022/2023, the yearlong programme was extended to 17 higher education institutions, 202 private institutions and 205 students.

Dr. Rahma added that a joint working team formed to review curricula for educational institutions comprised members from the Ministry of Higher Education, the Ministry of Education, the Sultan Qaboos University (SQU) and the University of Technology and Applied Sciences.

The team embarked on identifying areas that needed changes and priorities. Once the team accomplishes its mission, a charter that frames all these programmes in Oman would be devised, the minister affirmed.

The minister explained that the number of study seats made available through foreign missions in the last two academic years stood at 550 per annum. She added that, during academic year 2023-2024, the number of scholarships for study abroad rose to 535, compared to 312 in academic year 2021-2022.

“There is a program that provides scholarship opportunities for international students to study Bachelor’s degree at Omani higher education institutions. The opportunities include 100 full scholarships for study at the University of Technology and Applied Sciences, allocated exclusively to students residing in Oman, as well as 75 full scholarships for international students who are not resident in Oman,” Dr. Rahma added.

The minister confirmed that the Ministry seeks to enact laws that punish holders of a forged educational qualifications, in addition to an edict that that criminalizes obtaining certificates issued by fake universities. In this respect, she said that the number of fake qualifications decreased to 10 in the year 2023, compared to 44 fake certificates in 2019.

Dr. Rahma explained that 18 private universities and colleges in Oman were able to obtain institutional accreditation from the Omani Authority for Academic Accreditation and Educational Quality Assurance.

--- Ends/Bishara/Khalid