Showcasing Qatar’s commitment to its higher education sector, delegates from Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU), a member of Qatar Foundation for Education, Science, and Community Development, and Qatar University (QU) participated at the internationally renowned NAFSA Annual Conference and Expo in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania from May 27 to June 1, 2018. Qatar’s participation was well represented with the HBKU and QU delegates assembling within a dedicated Qatar Pavilion for the duration of the conference.
A non-profit organization, NAFSA’s mission is to foster education and understanding among people of diverse backgrounds in an effort to build leadership within a global community. With nearly 10,000 attendees visiting from more than 3,500 institutions and organizations in over 100 countries, NAFSA’s annual conference attracts a wide range of academic experts within a uniquely comprehensive international education event. Qatar’s participation thus reconfirms the nation’s position as a pioneer and regional leader of innovation and academic excellence in the international education landscape.
This year marks HBKU’s fourth participation at the NAFSA conference, giving HBKU and QU an international arena to display their drive for superior education and reconfirm their collaborative efforts.
Describing HBKU as a research-driven leader in the region, Vice President (VP) of Student Affairs Ms. Maryam Hamad Al-Mannai explained: “HBKU has effectively evolved into a hub of educational excellence in the Middle East and North Africa region – one that is significantly relevant to the local economy as well as one whose research impact is evident both regionally and globally. The innovative programs taught within our classrooms are, in many cases, a first anywhere in the world. A testament to HBKU’s allure for prospective international students is the fact that we are home to nearly 60 different nationalities and have graduated a larger cohort of alumni every successive year since our first graduating class.”
Highlighting the universities’ spirit of cooperation, HBKU’s VP continued: “Our strategic partnerships and strong bonds with other local educational institutions, such as QU, are paramount to Qatar’s continued success as an emerging global destination for higher education. During the course of this conference for international educators, we were able to share Qatar’s unique experiences with our global partners, and by actively engaging with preeminent thought leaders from the worlds of academia, research and science, our institutions return home today with greater ideas for our own local academic community.”
QU Vice President for Student Affairs Dr. Khalid Al-Khanji said: “QU is pleased to participate in the internationally renowned NAFSA Annual Conference and Expo that brings together more than 50 international country consortia representing hundreds of global academic institutions from both developed and emerging markets. Our participation is significant at this time when Qatar has been undergoing an illegal blockade. It also contributes to promoting Qatar as an incubator for education and research, and to highlighting QU’s role as the country’s first national institution of higher education committed to advancing quality higher education and research excellence in Qatar and the region.”
He added:” QU has achieved a number of successes over the last two years in various research and educational aspects. The institution has been ranked first in the International Outlook indicator since 2015 in Times Higher Education World University Rankings. The international outlook indicator considers the proportion of an institution’s international staff, international students, and research papers co-published with at least one author from another country. This is a clear indication of the type of educational environment QU has as well as its diverse research portfolio. International collaboration stands at the core of QU’s research strategy in which researchers are encouraged towards a culture of knowledge-sharing in seeking solutions to problems within their society and beyond. This has resulted in over 4,658 co-authored publications with 1,835 collaborating institutions and these have achieved top funding success under the National Priorities Research Program (NPRP) of the Qatar National Research Fund (QNRF). QU continues to advance in its regional and international standing through increased focus on research together with its role in teaching excellence. Several key factors include its vibrant culture of collaborative research, its healthy research budget and ambitious research roadmap targeting local, regional and international issues, along with the State of Qatar’s stated commitment to research and to steering the country towards a knowledge-based economy.”
HBKU and QU delegates partook in exclusive networking opportunities at this year’s program, which featured plenary speeches, concurrent sessions, workshops, signature programs, poster fairs, leadership programs, and a dedicated career center among many other exciting attractions.
With a student body of over 600 students from all over the world currently enrolled across its wide range of graduate programs, HBKU’s core values reflect this spirit of cultural and academic diversity through inclusive, cross-departmental discovery. Equally, QU champions inclusion and diversity with 35% of its student body composed of international students among their approximately 20,000 students.
The 2018 conference theme of “Diverse Voices, Shared Commitment” committed to the exploration of authentic collaborations across various boundaries, and how the understanding of alternative narratives may challenge old ideas and lead to new solutions and possibilities in academia.
HBKU houses four colleges that are specialized in graduate education: College of Islamic Studies, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, College of Science and Engineering, and College of Law and Public Policy. All 26 degrees offered by the four colleges prepare students for a rich academic career in the core subject areas of their respective studies as well as in supplementary research areas, including energy and environment; health and life sciences; information and computing technologies; and social sciences, arts and humanities.
QU is committed to providing high-quality education in areas of national priority. Underpinning this commitment is the goal to align its colleges, programs and courses with established international standards and best practices. As a result, the organization has been successful in its accreditation initiatives, earning the endorsement of numerous leading international accrediting bodies.
HBKU and QU’s cooperation in Philadelphia comes as the latest in a series of knowledge-sharing and exchange of expertise exercises by Qatari institutions. Positioned as globally-recognized leaders in the field of education, both Qatar’s premier academic institutes offer unparalleled academic and research opportunities in line with their shared commitment towards the development of the local talent pool.