A prestigious international educators’ conference was recently held in Doha for the first time. Entitled “Sustainable Strategies for Student Success,” the NASPA – ACPA Gulf Conference 2012, hosted by Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development (QF), showcased strategies for preparing students for success in the classroom and beyond.
A variety of lively discussion-based workshops complemented the centerpiece symposium on “Enhancing Student Learning around the Globe.” The illustrious panel, assembled under the auspices of QF’s Education Division, included H.E. Dr. Abdulla Al Thani, Hamad Bin Khalifa University President and Vice President of Education at QF, Professor Sheikha Abdullah Al Misnad, President of Qatar University, and was moderated by Dr. Susan R. Komives, Professor and Program Director of Student Affairs at the University of Maryland in the U.S.A. Dr. Komives is a renowned educator who focuses on student affairs and leadership and has been selected for numerous awards, recognition, and leadership roles throughout her career.
The symposium was made possible by partnering with the two leading professional organizations that serve those working in student affairs throughout the world. NASPA (National Association of Student Personnel Administrators) and ACPA (American College Personnel Association) agreed last year on a globalization strategy that would bring professional development opportunities to international higher education outside North America. The NASPA-ACPA Gulf Conference was the first time that the two organizations acted in cooperation to advance this agreement.
With the aim of ensuring that scholars have the very best tools to succeed in enhancing students’ depth and breadth of learning, the main discussion revolved around the implementation of effective strategies by Student Affairs educators worldwide. “The work of educators must be focused on students, making sure that they know how important it is to get fully involved in their learning,” said H.E. Dr. Al Thani.
In addition to analyzing global strategies, discussions also focused on the needs of Qatari students, and those at QF in particular. H.E. Dr. Al Thani continued, “I believe that Qatar’s families are key to the success of our students. They are involved in their sons’ and daughters’ lives, and this has to be harnessed to add value to students’ learning.”
Celebrating QF’s own achievements, the symposium showcased the opening of the Hamad Bin Khalifa University Student Center, which provides a wide range of meeting and events venues for students from all university partners, and gathers students from 80 different countries and backgrounds under one roof.
Professor Al Misnad’s contributions aligned with those of H.E. Dr. Al Thani. She stated, “The best of education is the culmination of all things working together – both in the classroom and out of class. It’s not just the experience of university that counts – it’s the student’s reflection and perception of what they encounter.” The quality of education at QF ensures that students are primed for academic and life success. By unlocking this potential, QF is helping them to become confident leaders and strong team players.
According to Dr. Al Misnad, “Today’s university graduates must be prepared for the knowledge-based economy by learning to be innovative, risk taking, courageous, persistent, flexible, open-minded, and compassionate. We are fortunate that Qatar has great wealth and opportunity, but our students must look beyond the glitter if they are to contribute their fair share to the advancement of our country.”
This year’s conference provoked impassioned debates and collective brainstorming amongst 180 educational practitioners from all corners of the globe. And, in the future, it is hoped that the benefits will be reaped throughout the campuses of QF and beyond. QF’s Education Division is committed to working with all higher education institutions in Qatar and the Gulf to advocate for more effective, and more culturally appropriate, practices.
Dr. Dennis Roberts, QF’s Assistant Vice President for Education, commented, “The idea of students being deeply engaged in their learning through experiences in and out of the classroom is new to the Gulf and, for that matter, most of Europe and Asia. Taking leadership in bringing this perspective to Qatar is one of the primary ways in which QF can add value to the emerging higher education offerings in Qatar.”
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