Nod likely for 'open varsity' degrees

DUBAI - The Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research is studying options to recognise and accredit certificates issued by 'open universities' and 'distance learning institutions', in the UAE, Saif Al Mazroui, Director of the Accreditation and Education Programme at the ministry, told Khaleej Times, yesterday.

By Meraj Rizvi And Amira Abdulla

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Published: Mon 25 Aug 2003, 8:14 PM

Last updated: Wed 1 Apr 2015, 10:14 PM

Mr Al Mazroui confirmed that following a joint decision by the Ministers of Higher Education of all Arab Gulf Cooperation Council (AGCC) countries in 1985, the UAE stopped recognising and accrediting certificates issued by 'open universities' and distance learning institutions.

In addition, the ministry in October 2002 also decided not to recognise undergraduate certificates of 'part-time' programme studies for complete lack of attendance of the students. However, in the case of post-graduate programmes, the certificates were approved provided the students had at least attended one-third of the programme credit hours.

The AGCC ministers' decision was based on reports which highlighted weak educational level of graduates produced by such institutions.

However, now with the increasing development of communication technology globally and spread of distance education, Mr Al Mazroui disclosed that the UAE is studying the experiments of other countries in the field of distance education.

He clarified that the ministry was not against "open education" or "distance learning" as such. "There should be a certain procedure and criterion for standards for this kind of education as the ministry is concerned about the quality of education. "

He denied a report published in an Arabic daily yesterday quoting him saying that the ministry will not accredit or approve any certificate issued by distance education institutes or the open universities correspondence programmes within and outside the UAE after the year 2000.

Mr Al Mazroui was quoted as saying that the certificates of students who joined the distance learning institutes before 2000 would be accredited by the ministry, while those certificates issued after 2000 will not be accredited.

Mr Al Mazroui's remarks came as a warning for several hundreds of students currently scouting for educational institutions to pursue their higher education within and outside the country. He pointed out that the students should first check with the ministry for clarification on the credentials of such educational institutes.

He urged students to contact UAE embassies in the country they are pursuing their studies or seeking transfers to ensure that the new university is a bona fide entity.

A Dubai-based online and distance learning academic provider confirmed that the ministry had in January 2003 issued a circular to them refusing to accredit their online bachelor's and postgraduate programmes.

"We are not licensed to teach the programme not accredited by the ministry, but we have been licensed to offer to students distance and online programmes which are recognised internationally," an official of the institute said, adding, they are continuing to offer their programmes to those willing to take it despite being aware that the UAE ministry will not accredit it.

"Several private organisations within and outside the UAE recognise the quality of our programme," he said. The institute offers MBA and other master's degree programmes of a UK university largely to the expatriate community in Dubai.

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