These are some of the major challenges that UAE higher education institutions are dealing with, and it would not be a surprise to know that they have been fairly successful in achieving those.
According to a recent report titled ‘Education Sector in UAE to 2016’, the UAE education sector now accounts for approximately 24% of total government expenditure, and is estimated at a market size of $7.3bn. This shows that UAE education industry is growing at a fast pace, and UAE government aims to spend billion dirhams on education sector in order to emerge as a world class educational hub.
The present concept to measure the quality of higher education is students. Students are the key customers to judge the quality of education being provided by the professional colleges and universities, in light of their educational experiences. For an institution to be successful, it must ensure the provision of high quality services to its students, as students affect the bottom line. So the whole idea of service quality management in higher education revolves around students.
Student’s views and expectations are a valuable source of information, and fresh undergraduate students may have idealistic expectations. If higher education institutions know about their student’s expectations, they may be able to respond to them to a more realistic level and can greatly improve their student-service quality in terms of:
-Transforming education through personalized learning
-Improving teacher development and performance
-Providing enhanced access to information
-Efficient management of the processes that facilitate teaching, learning and research
In higher education literature, a student’s perceived service quality is an antecedent to student satisfaction. According to Alison Devine, the Regional Manager Education UK & Middle East, a research study was undertaken by British Council, for a comprehensive analysis of the UAE higher education market to determine the level of student satisfaction with his/her respective higher education institution.
The results of the same are mentioned below:
It is clearly visible that the reason for the higher percentage of student satisfaction (56%) was ‘quality of education’ being provided by the educational institution. However, in terms of dissatisfaction, 46% of the students were totally satisfied with the service quality of their educational institution. The rest 54% expressed other reasons of dissatisfaction, instead of ‘quality of education’.
Managing quality in higher education is not only challenging but an uphill task. To assess the same, a research study was conducted in year 2012, to investigate student’s satisfaction and perception of quality at their respective higher education institutions.
The key dimensions examined were programme effectiveness, quality of lecturers & teaching, student learning, assessment & feedback, learning resources, use of technology, and facilities/social life. The results of the same are given below, and it was found that students are largely satisfied with the service quality of their higher education institution.
Table 1. Student scores for their perceptions of study at higher education institution in UAE.
The above findings of the research study shows that the higher education institutions in the UAE are performing relatively well and largely satisfying their principal customers, the students.
Global trends, such as demographic shift, quality-services, and rapidly emerging IT, business and cutting-edge technologies are constantly building pressure on higher education institutions to adopt advanced methods and techniques of providing educational services to students.
A similar approach is the ‘Higher Education CRM Business Strategy’, mentioned below:
(Using CRM-Customer Relationship Management as a way of establishing & maintaining the relationship between the student and the higher education institution)
Nowadays, majority of the UAE higher education institutions are undergoing fundamental shifts in how they operate and interact with their ‘customers’, i.e. students, parents, staff & administration, and faculty & alumni. In this regard, many educational institutions have adopted an effective CRM business strategy truly based on a student-centric vision.
-Establishing strong student-institution relationships
-Gathering data to build & retain relationships with prospects
(A Practical Illustration of CRM Execution)
Proactive educational institutions are rapidly turning to technology by using emerging CRM processes and technologies. A hands-on example for the same is CERT, which is one of the largest investors in terms of discovery and commercialization of technology in UAE.
To fulfill student’s demand of a higher level of access to information, and to make technology resources an integral part of their learning experiences, CERT has been utilizing several IT services, besides CRM, to increase the effectiveness of communication and interaction between students, faculty and administration. CERT has not only facilitated its students, in terms of using CRM communication platform to access information and student resources, but has also empowered them to interact with administration and teaching faculty.
-ADMINISTRATION & FACULTY
CERT administration is using CRM solutions for the automation and improvement of front office processes like recruitment, marketing, customer services and support. On the other hand, its faculty is utilizing CRM to create a new learning environment, in terms of dynamically sharing resources and strategies to enable students learning.
Like CERT, other UAE higher education institutions have also adopted CRM business strategies, in the form of advanced tools and techniques to improve their customer’s service quality. Some of the names include Al Hosn University , American University in Dubai , Abu Dhabi University, American University of Sharjah , New York University Abu-Dhabi , The Petroleum Institute , United Arab Emirates University and Zayed University .
UAE higher education institutions aim to provide quality education to its students and improved access to information and resources, along with enhanced learning and development in order to keep students engaged.
According to Shaikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, the Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research:
‘It is of utmost importance that the UAE higher education institutions offer the highest quality academic programmes, meeting the international standards of quality, and all efforts have been made to ensure the provision of high-class educational services that our students expect and deserve.
The Ministry of Higher Education, UAE, is not only trying to succeed in terms of service innovation, but also, by sustaining success in the rapidly changing arena of higher education. A forthcoming initiative for the same is, ‘The 2nd Dubai International Conference in Higher Education, 2014 .’
The purpose of the conference is to provide a forum for sharing experiences and expertise in terms of:
-Improving student’s education service quality
-Creating innovative learning, teaching & research methodologies
-Providing excellence through innovation
-Demonstrating excellence in research and outreach environments
UAE government sole focus is to provide advanced higher educational opportunity and access, teaching and research, and to assure that the quality of higher education in the UAE is achieved and maintained to the highest international standards.
(Innovation & Knowledge Production)
We live in an age with technology at the core of everyday life. And beyond that, there is a persistent market demand for better, smarter and more efficient gadgets and technologies. Higher education is in the forefront of globalization and institutions world rankings are the key to future success. Therefore, the Ministry of Higher Education, UAE, aims to lay the foundation for an innovative-based, knowledge producing economy.
UAE, higher education institutions have already taken initiative towards establishing a knowledge-intensive economy, with special emphasis on revolutionary technologies and tools. This would result in:
-Elevating the quality of higher education to internationally recognized levels
-Providing all students an improved access to information and resources
-Building and maintaining a research ecosystem to drive an innovative based economy
-Aligning higher education with social, culture, and economic needs
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