Muscat: The Shura Council discussed the statement of Her Excellency Dr Rahma bint Ibrahim Al Mahrouqi, Minister of Higher Education, Scientific Research and Innovation, on the importance of aligning the specialisations of higher education institutions with the needs of the labour market.
Areas of focus included scientific research, and the disciplines of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and artificial intelligence.
Her Excellency said that the number of higher education institutions in Oman stood at 47, including 19 government institutions and 28 private institutions. In addition, the country has 416 private vocational training institutions.
Of the 23,816 graduates from the last academic year, 60 per cent were women. The 2019 graduate survey showed that the employment of women was at 8.8 per cent, while that of men was at 39.5 per cent.
The vocational education and training sector witnessed a significant development, and the number of students and trainees across institutes has gone up to 5782 this academic year as opposed to 5465 in 2017-2018, Her Excellency said.
HE added that the law on higher education needed to be reviewed again in the light of the new developments: the restructuring the State’s administrative apparatus, the cancellation of the Education Council, the change in name of the ministry, inclusion of vocational colleges and the scientific research and innovation sector, and the setting up of the University of Technology and Applied Sciences.
HE also touched upon the National Strategy for Education 2040 and the National Strategy for Scientific Research and Development 2040, in addition to the alignment of the Strategic Plan for Vocational Education and Training (2016-2025) and the National Strategy for Innovation in line with Oman Vision 2040.
She also spoke about the ninth five-year plan and its executive programmes for the higher education sector, the scientific research and innovation sector, and the vocational training sector. In this regard, the minister talked of the challenges of implementing these plans and strategies amid the economic crisis, stressing that the ministry had faced challenges due to the annual reduction in budgets of the Ministry's General Office and the Unified Admission Centre.
The allocations for scholarships have been significantly reduced and there are significant differences between the actual expenses and the financial credits, HE added.