Dual Studies Programme for Business in the Middle East Busines Magazine
by Christine Mikliss & Andreas König
Innovation in Education
“I am a recent graduate, currently doing an internship at an IT company,and I am experiencing a huge gap between what we learned at university and the reality on the ground. It would be fantastic to have the chance to obtainpractical training or do an internship at a local company during your studies. It would help students a great dealto learnmoreabout the demands of the market and the requirements of the work place,” states Aya Mohaisem, a 23-year-old intern in a Palestinian IT firm.
Closingthe gap between the world of academics and the world of work is precisely what the Dual Studies Programme at Al-Quds University aims to accomplish. This innovative study concept will be the first of its kind in Palestine.
Al-Quds University plans to implement the Dual Studies Programme in collaboration with prestigious German institutions in this area andwill be funded by the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany through the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ),an international enterprise operated by the German Government. The programme includes three major areas of study – computer and information technology, electrical engineering, and business administration –and will be conducted in English.
The Dual Studies Programme integrates academic studies with on-the-job practice from the very first day of classes. This approach ensures more efficient learning through ongoing exposure of the students to the actual market. From Day 1 of the programme,students will not only attend academic classes but also be employed at local companiesin areasrelated to their respective fields of study. In this way, they will not only acquire technical or service competences, but they will also learn how to relate to clients, how to solve problems and to take up responsibilities in a real work environment.Graduates will thus be able to compete effectively in the work place immediately upon graduation.
The gap between university studies and the needs of the labour market also poses problems for local enterprises. Therefore, it does not come as a surprise that the Palestinian private sector appreciates this new educational approach and has already shown great interest in cooperation.
Samia Totah, co-founder of Bissan Company, a local enterprise thatdevelops accounting software, experienced the following: “Each graduate that joins the company requires further training in specific areas, which consumesnot only our time and money but also human resources. In addition, you need to consider the time a new employee needs to become acquainted with the processes and procedures in the individual company. So I am very much looking forward to the new Dual Studies Programme and will encourage our management to join that project.” Indeed there are several ways in which the private sector can benefit from this programme: companies can help define learning objectives and develop curricula together with the academic staff, while alsoreceiving assistance from their academic partners in addressing practical problems they encounter in the work place. Companies also participate in the examination of students and decide on their learning success. Practical tests will form part of the examination process.
The Dual Studies Programmewill begin in September for the academic year 2015–2016, in cooperation with leading Palestinian companies in the private sector.
Al-Quds University’s Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dr. Hanna Abdel Nour, emphasizes: “This programme is very important for students who wish to gain knowledge by attending a university programme leading to a bachelor’s degree.At the same time, they need to gain the practical experience necessary to be engaged in a real working environment in an institution, a company, or a factory.”
Ms. Barbara Wolf, head of the Representative Office of the Federal Republic of Germany in Ramallah, points out, “Germany is a committed partner in strengthening the Palestinian educational system. The Dual Studies Progamme offers a win-win situation for Al-Quds University, for companies, and most importantly for the students who participate in this programme. It will provide new perspectives for young Palestinians. Strong and transparent interaction between all partners in this project is key to its success.”
The Dual Studies Programme gives educational innovation in Palestine a boost, opening exciting new horizons for many young people,along with opportunities for both local and international careers.
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