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Focus on quality in higher education

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The two-day conference of GHEDEX titled Quality in Higher Education held at Oman Convention and Exhibition Centre looked at quality assurance and standards monitoring in higher education as well as accreditation and equivalence in the sector. An important focus was student preparedness for employment.

The second day of the conference on Tuesday looked at Oman, globalisation and higher education, opportunities for women in higher education, investment in higher education, development of research infrastructure and concluded with careers of the future, higher education, training and skills.

Dr Nabila al Macki, Deputy Dean for Academic Affairs from Majan University College, looked at quality assurance challenges in higher education under profit-driven motives - the Omani experience. Meanwhile, Dr Nithiya Ramachandran, lecturer, Department of Business Studies, University of Technology and Applied Sciences, Ibra, highlighted the importance of student participation in the quality assurance process of HEIs in the Omani context.

Dr Yousuf al Khamisi, quality assurance specialist and assistant professor at Sultan Qaboos University, focused on using lean management to enhance quality and eliminate non-value added activities in academic institutions.

Dr Ammar al Balushi, Head of Business Management at Majan University College, presented alliances in the Omani Higher Education Industry.

As the three-day event concluded, the exhibition will now be at Suhar for another two days.

The hospitality sector is one of the sectors that is expected to continue in growth. Dr Ahmed bin Sulaiman al Mahrizi, Director of Training and Professional Development Unit at Oman Tourism College, said to the Observer that they try to align their activities, their offerings to the nation to the Sultanate of Oman strategy - 2040.

"We are trying to provide the students whether they are aiming for a bachelor's degree or diploma or the need of the sector or at the vocational level - short courses where we see the market for their entry-level into the labour market with skills qualified in different areas related to hospitality and tourism," Dr Al Mahrizi said.

"If we talk about academic programmes, we have the bachelor's degree, we have four years plus a foundation year, and there are three years for the academic diploma plus a foundation year for the vocational training programmes. It's normally six to nine months, depending on the area. We also have areas that are related to the front office, culinary services, customer services, different types of languages, housekeeping, room attendance, different courses in business enterprises, hospitality and tourism management, in addition to event management and tourism."

The college normally trains about 800 students annually.

When asked what is unique in the training for hospital staff, he said: "Because the hospital hosts patients and they stay there overnight, so they are guests. And if they get the same treatment as five-star hospitality, that's an added value for any hospital. We do the front office, the front line, whether it is in hospitals, whether it's in companies, ministries, or in hotels."

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