Fifth AOU Board Meeting Concept of higher education needs to be redefined — Queen

March 29, 2006

(The Jordan Times - Cairo) Her Majesty Queen Rania on Wednesday said the concept of higher education needs to be redefined to include academic, developmental and social aspects.  The Queen, who is Associate President of the Arab Open University's (AOU) Board of Trustees, made the remarks at the board's fifth annual meeting in Cairo, chaired by Saudi Prince Talal Ben Abdul Aziz, president of the Arab Gulf Programme for United Nations Development Organisations (AGFUND).  The board members discussed accreditation policies applied by higher education ministries in the Arab world.  The Queen said such criteria should be revisited to ensure they enhance the quality of the programmes offered by universities, adding that the accreditation conditions should not be perceived as hurdles.  The graduation of the first batch of the university is very important in leaving a good impression about the level of the institution's performance, which is naturally reflected on the quality of graduates, she added.  Prince Talal thanked the Queen for her support of the AOU and development projects such as AGFUND, which officially opened the Jordan-based National Microfinance Bank (NMB) to offer microcredit to the poor earlier this week.  The AOU board of trustees, comprising Arab ministers and key academicians, discussed last year's report which includes a plan to prepare the university for accreditation by the Open University Validation Service of the United Kingdom.  The AOU signed an agreement for cooperation and affiliation with the UK Open University (UKOU). This agreement, according to the AOU website, includes three major areas: Licensing of materials, consultancies, accreditation and validation. The agreement will also provide students with the chance to obtain a joint certificate from both universities.  The Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research granted the Jordan branch institutional accreditation and programme validation for the three programmes taught under licence by the UKOU.  The AOU Jordan branch graduated its first batch on Aug. 13 last year. Some 400 students received bachelors degrees in education and higher diploma certificates.  The university has branches in several Arab countries with Kuwait as its headquarters. Its aim is to turn out graduates who are capable of embracing the latest technology and working in a globalised economy. Jordan Times, Thursday, March 30, 2006