HCT looks to an exciting future in Higher Education as it celebrates 25th Annual Conference

DUBAI: The Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT) today officially launched the new academic year with the opening of its 25th Annual Conference for faculty and staff at the HCT – Dubai Women’s College under the theme of Celebrating Excellence – Inspiring the Future.

The conference was held under the patronage, and in the presence of Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahayan, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research and Chancellor, Higher Colleges of Technology.

Sheikh Nahayan delivered the opening address in front of more than 1,000 faculty and staff members who travelled from the HCT’s 16 other campuses throughout the UAE for the convocation ceremony and subsequent professional development break-out sessions. In keeping with tradition, all new faculty members were introduced to the Chancellor, Sheikh Nahayan.

Sheikh Nahayan said as the Higher Colleges of Technology celebrates its 25th Anniversary, it must continue to meet the high expectations of the UAE’s leaders. “The Higher Colleges of Technology must remain success-oriented, student-centered, and wholly dedicated to the promotion of economic development, innovation, and entrepreneurship, and to the application of scientific knowledge and the advancement of technological skills,” he told the packed auditorium.

Sheikh Nahayan referred to the next phase of the HCT as it must look forward with an “an ambition for more” as it “concentrates on its traditional approach to educating our students, that is, Learning by Doing’”. “Our focus on an applied education will differentiate our offerings from those of the universities. Our focus on an applied education will distinguish HCT as an indispensable element in the development and progress of the United Arab Emirates,” he said.

Looking to the future, Sheikh Nahayan said there was a need for HCT to look at the programs it offers, with emphasis on the its Applied Baccalaureate degrees and its Diplomas. “We must have a pathway to further study after students complete the Applied Baccalaureate degree. We must build appropriate articulation agreements with universities here and abroad. The Applied Baccalaureate degree may also suggest the possibility of an Applied HCT Master’s degree at some point in the future,” Sheikh Nahayan said.

In order to achieve greater success with these programmes Sheikh Nahayan called on the HCT community to participate in a bold public communications plan. “The UAE must understand what we do and how our graduates add enormous value to our nation. With more students completing applied bachelor’s degrees, it is important that the Higher Colleges become known for the technical and applied competence of the graduates. Our graduates must be the graduates of choice in any field for which they are prepared,” he said.

Sheikh Nahayan confirmed that the Higher Colleges of Technology’s suite of Engineering Programs have gained international accreditation from the US-based Accreditation Board for Engineering ‘&’ Technology (ABET), with the body’s latest approval being made last month.

As a result of the ABET decision, the HCT’s HD/BAS Chemical, HD/BAS Electrical, HD/BAS Electronics, HD/BAS Mechanical, HD Mechatronics programs have all been accredited to September 30, 2014. This accreditation action extends retroactively from October 1, 2010. HCT’s HD/BAS Civil Engineering program gained accredited from ABET in late 2010, meaning that all HCT engineering programs are now internationally accredited.

Sheikh Nahayan congratulated all those HCT staff and faculty involved in the accreditation of the nine programs. “Thank you all for the blood, toil, sweat, and tears that have justified ABET accreditation. That accreditation should give us confidence to attack a brand new initiative with uncommon zeal. I refer to the iPad,” he said.

“We must recognise that this new technology (iPads) provides an important opportunity for us to develop innovative ways of teaching and learning,” Sheikh Nahayan said in reference to the Federal Higher Education Mobile Learning Initiative launched on September 23.

“I am confident that you will show all of these abilities in using the iPad to develop more engaging, relevant content that is targeted to individual styles of learning and needs. Inspired by ABET accreditation and by the successful launch of the iPad project and confident in your proven abilities and extraordinary talents, you will raise the Higher Colleges of Technology to a new level of excellence,” he concluded.

The annual conference also highlighted the HCT’s 25th year of operation and Vice Chancellor Dr Tayeb Kamali said it was a very proud occasion for the Higher Colleges’ extended family.