Gulf Medical University: Nurturing young healthcare leaders
Prof. Hossam Hamdy, Chancellor, Gulf Medical University
Gulf Medical University has global academic and research partnerships to raise students' employability profile. Excerpts from an interview with Chancellor Prof. Hossam Hamdy
How is your university contributing to the UAE's higher education in line with government's Vision 2021 to realise a 'First-rate Education System'?
Gulf Medical University's first private academic health system is a leading institute in the UAE and the region that trains healthcare professionals. The University has established academic and research partnerships with over 70 universities and research institutions worldwide. Our students are on par with their counterparts elsewhere in the world, when it comes to competency and employability in the UAE, Gulf and the world. It is the first private academic health system that links academia, healthcare and research to produce healthcare professionals of the future.
What challenges and opportunities did you witness moving from physical to online classes during the Covid-19 pandemic? How is technology and digitization influencing higher education?
Familiarising students and training faculty with distance learning strategies was an important first step. Even before Covid-19, GMU was already having a strong technology platform which made the transformation easier and faster. We conducted webinars using synchronous and asynchronous Teaching and developed various learning resources to support this. We were also able to increase the degree of engagement between the faculty and the learners, and enabled a system of continuous feedback and multiple layers of activities for the learner, at the same time responding quickly to their queries.
The digital mode of learning will play a central role in the new normal of the post-Covid educational environment. GMU, for instance, will have a blended learning system, incorporating the best aspects of traditional as well as distance e-learning.
How does UAE ranking system fare against other world ranking systems? What is your opinion on increasing diversity - students and subjects - in the nation's education sector?
The UAE Ministry of Education has a strong quality assurance and academic standard to ensure that the country's educational institutions are at par with international standards.
GMU has been introducing new and innovative programmes unique to the region from time to time, in view of the evolving needs of the healthcare industry. Some of the most recent additions include our College of Healthcare Management and Economics, which prepares the graduates to pursue careers in healthcare management, health economics, policymaking and administration. All our programmes are accredited by MOE and several programmes are internationally accredited, medicine, pharmacy, biomedical sciences. Our most recent programme is the Master of Drug Development and Discovery.
We have been witnessing an increase in demand year-on-year for these new, diversified programmes. As for student diversity, we have students from 86 countries, with new nationalities being added every year, and our experience is that greater diversity enriches the overall learning experience and quality.
Please explain some of the futuristic educational trends developing in the UAE
An important futuristic educational trend GMU is adapting are institutional collaborations and sharing resources; we offer several programmes with leading international universities, such as the University of Arizona and Virginia Commonwealth University in the US, Pursuit University in France and St Raphael in Italy. AI and virtual reality-based technologies are being increasingly used in UAE institutions to enhance the learning experience of students and to effectively impart professional training. There is now a greater emphasis on equipping the learner with futuristic skills. E-learning methodologies are on the rise too. We have developed an international high fidelity simulation known as virtual patient learning used in more than 30 universities worldwide.
In your opinion, how adept is the UAE education system to fulfil the demands related to career opportunities?
The UAE has several world-class universities, many of which are tied up with globally renowned universities for academic and research cooperation. The country has adopted an innovative approach to ensure that its education system is always on par with international standards. At GMU, we prepare the students to work in a different world of healthcare.