The Challenges of University Education in Yemen

Prof. Fathia Al-Hamadani

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       The changes of the current century are characterized by their speed and diversity, Therefore, what has been produced cognitively, scientifically and technically in recent years far exceeds what has been done in previous centuries. Therefore, the impact of these changes is clear and evident in universities and posed a major challenge to the quality of outputs and their role in building societies.

       University education plays its role in the human resources industry through its multiple roles that focus on preparing outputs. However, the one looking forward to the success of universities in performing their tasks and functions finds them facing many interrelated and overlapping challenges with each other. It negatively affects the quality of educational outputs and outcomes. Among the most important challenges are the following:

The first challenge: the huge explosion of knowledge in various sciences, particularly information technology, communications engineering and modern technology, which requires outputs with new specializations, skills and various abilities in order to keep pace with the new requirements of the labor market.

The second challenge: the poor response of university education outputs to the needs of the labor market due to the traditional stereotype that encapsulates many academic programs and courses that no longer fit the needs of the current age. We find that many university graduates possess qualifications that lack the skills necessary to meet the requirements of the renewed labor market. Traditional programs in all their specializations need to be updated to better keep pace with modern knowledge and technological developments. Nevertheless, universities play their role in the theoretical teaching aspect only.

The third challenge: the absence of a strategy that recognizes the needs of the labor market in a way supporting the academic orientations in universities to choose the most appropriate academic programs. Furthermore, there is the lack of follow-up of graduates in the labor market. This leads to imbalances in reality that result in a rise in unemployment rates among university graduates.

The fourth challenge: unilateral funding represented by government support for universities, which places them within central financial constraints. This is accompanied by the limited financial resources that may be spent most of the time on routine matters. This affects the ability of those universities to renew the capabilities of faculty members and modernize laboratories, libraries and infrastructure that support scientific production, creativity and innovation.

The fifth challenge: the high cost of university education. University fees charged to enrolling students increases, which prompts students, most of the time, to work to cover the expenses. This does not support their full-time study and affects the type of skills they are supposed to acquire during the four years of study. Some of them may not finish their study, and others may not enroll in university at all. Thus, university education is limited to the group that is able to keep pace with the financial increase in the university enrollment process.

The sixth challenge: the emigration of many unique Yemeni brains that preferred to go out with their experiences abroad due to disappreciation at their home country and absence of actual operational fields. This causes a great scientific loss, the price of which is paid by the country in general as the immigrant faculty member is a national treasure that must be preserved.

The seventh challenge: the absence of strategies for scientific research, which contributed to the loss of the culture of scientific research and the inability of universities and their research centers to play their role in the research process, community service and development.

       In light of the above, a question poses itself: What should our universities do today in light of these challenges?

       Since universities are primarily concerned with providing outputs capable of keeping pace with changes and the needs of the labor market, they must set many measures and policies, including providing what is necessary to create new knowledge by building new academic programs and courses conducted by specialized academics to anticipate what the future needs in terms of skills and abilities that university graduates must acquire, providing all that is necessary to enable graduates with skills in the various disciplines they join in order to help them adapt and successfully face changes in working life, and ensuring a real and effective partnership between universities and various community institutions to coordinate on the needs and requirements of the labor market.

       This is accompanied by working to find new self-financing sources for each university within transparency and accountability in all financial aspects and working seriously to provide an encouraging academic environment for faculty members and give them bonus and appropriate salaries that help improve their living standards and in proportion to their social status.

       University education, with its outputs, remains the broadest gateway to the development process in societies. This requires an essential element for its establishment, which is maintaining security and stability in all parts of Yemen in order to be able to better overcome the challenges facing the university education system.

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