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Raising the quality bar

Dr Karim Seghir, Chancellor, Ajman University on the occasion of the QS five stars rating

Published: Tue 8 Feb 2022, 4:20 PM

Ajman university has become one of a select league of universities in the UAE to get overall institutional five QS stars and five QS Stars in eight categories. What keeps AU thriving for betterment every time?

At Ajman University, we are driven by our core values of excellence, integrity inclusiveness, social impact and innovation. We apply each of these values in our day-to-day operations with the objective of achieving the best possible outcomes for our students, faculty, staff, stakeholders and the wider community that we are a part of. The world is changing at a breath-taking pace and we would like to ensure that our students are equipped intellectually, physically as well as spiritually, to adapt to a demanding and fast changing world. To give you an analogy, we don’t just subject our students to rigorous training and examination, but also test ourselves frequently to ensure that we remain on top of key academic indicators. The QS five-stars rating attests AU’s strengths in teaching, employability, academic development and inclusiveness among other key parameters.

How would you classify yourself as different from the others in the sector?

Despite our proud heritage of over three decades, we are still a very young university and have time and again ranked among the top 50 universities globally that are under 50 years. We were the first private university in the UAE and the GCC region to admit expatriate students. Ever since inception we have tried to blend our proud Emirati heritage with internationalisation, creating opportunities for both Emirati and international students to shine on the global stage. Innovation is another area where we differentiate ourselves from others; we were among the first few universities in the UAE to launch bachelors and master’s degree programmes in data analytics and artificial intelligence. AU’s innovation center is known for incubating start-ups and solutions that not only solve pressing business challenges but also address societal issues. We train our students for critical thinking, innovation and social impact, and therein lies our difference and competitive advantage.

How would you define the success of the university over the years?

There are many indicators of success, but one of the most quantifiable is academic rankings. In the globally renowned QS World University Rankings (QSWUR), AU continues to rank among the top 750 universities worldwide since 2020. Only 2.5 per cent of the universities globally find a place in this elite list of institutions. Ajman University was also ranked 4th and 6th respectively for international students and international faculty in QSWUR 2022. In the QS Arab Region Rankings, AU has risen an incredible 31 places since 2018 to rank among the top 30 Arab universities. AU was also ranked 2nd for international students in the QS Arab Region University Rankings 2022. This year we debuted in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings (THEWUR) 2022, and were listed 4th worldwide for International students. Another key indicator of our success is the growing strength of our research. Research papers published by AU authors increased by more than 1500 per cent since 2017 and citations for AU authors increased 100 per cent over the same period, as per Scopus. Beyond just numbers, we are happy to see our graduates go out in the world and make a positive impact. That for me is the biggest indicator of success for a university.

What are the most important considerations you would like to keep for this year's curriculum?

We will continue to focus on developing critical thinking skills among our students. Whether it is through the deployment of the case study methodology in our college of business for instance; practical training in our colleges of medicine and dentistry; or promoting participation in hackathons for our engineering and IT students, our focus is on developing real-world skills apart from academic rigour.

What are the biggest strengths of Ajman University when it comes to maintaining its position as a leading player in the industry?

Our strength is our continued focus on growth. Under the visionary leadership and guidance of Sheikh Humaid Al Nuaimi, member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Ajman, and Sheikh Ammar Al Nuaimi, Crown Prince of Ajman and chairman of the board of trustees of Ajman University, we have crossed many milestones of success across academic rankings, accreditations, research and other key focus areas. No milestone, however significant is final for us. Our zeal to continuously grow and facilitate great outcomes for students is perhaps the biggest strength that makes us a leading university in the region and worldwide. This is reflected in the employability of our graduates and alumni who are making their impact felt in senior positions across industry, government, academia and the social sector. We make this happen with our strong hands-on approach to learning, co-curriculum activities that focus on students’ personal development and soft skills, impactful career mentoring, strong ties with the private and public sectors and a distinguished reputation.

How is the university continuing with the legacy of innovating with time?

While we are proud of our legacy, we are also mindful of the fact that change is the only constant. Innovation, not only in technology, but also in ways of thinking and the way we do things is key to success. We earned QS five-stars for online learning earlier this year, which just goes to show that we remain on the top of the curve when it comes to the changing demands of time. It was our emphasis on innovation which helped us navigate the challenges of the pandemic. We won the 2021 Ellucian Impact award for innovation in recognition of our advanced use of technology to enable a great student experience even during the pandemic.

How is Ajman University fostering diversity and inclusivity on the campus?

Diversity and Inclusiveness are embedded in the core values of Ajman University. We are committed to providing equal opportunities to students regardless of nationality, gender, religious background, economic status or disability. We actively recruit for diversity by offering scholarships and financial aid to the differently abled, the underprivileged and to under-represented nationalities. We have student cohorts representing more than 70 nationalities and faculty members that belong to more than 30 countries worldwide. We have around 90 student clubs on campus which are virtually a celebration of the diverse nationalities, cultures and beliefs that we have embraced at AU.

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