Muscat: Various measures are being adopted by the Ministry of Higher Education to address the dropout issue in Oman, said a senior official.
“The Ministry of Higher Education supervises the colleges of applied sciences, private universities and colleges, and internal and external scholarship programmes. To address this issue, the ministry has dealt with dropout cases in the colleges of applied sciences from different aspects,” the Minister of Higher Education, Dr. Rawya Saud Al Busaidi, stated in an interview with Times of Oman.
“Following admission to a college, each student has an academic advisor, whose role is to help him or her discover their potential and capabilities, and assist in exploring alternative paths to the degree if for any reason the normal pace of the degree is disrupted, and to help develop a remedial plan on academic probation,” she explained.
She added that students, who fall under academic probation with a GPA of below 2.0, have three chances or semesters to get out of academic probation.
“Instead of withdrawal from the college, the student who does not meet the requirements for removal from the status of academic probation, but satisfies the requirements to receive a diploma may exit the college with a higher education diploma,” the official said.
A student contemplating full withdrawal from the college for other reasons must consult their academic advisor prior to formalising the decision in order to ensure that all alternatives are considered, Al Busaidi stated.
Commenting on external scholarships, the minister said, cultural attachés at Omani embassies abroad provide the students with the best possible living conditions, reception and transport upon arrival, medical care and appropriate accommodation on their first arrival in the country.
“To prevent dropouts, the Ministry of Higher Education represented (by) cultural attachés follow up on the progress made by Omani scholarship students and advise them to enrol in areas of study that are compatible with their capacities and aptitude,” Al Busaidi explained.
In her message to those who plan to drop out, the minister said, “They should seek advice from their academic advisor and other counselling bodies at the institution when facing issues concerning their studies.”
“They should also think carefully and assess the pros and cons of leaving the college by comparing the living standards of graduates and the living standards of the dropouts, keeping in mind that they need to help their families financially through employment,” Al Busaidi noted.
Out of the total number of students who left their studies during the 2013-2014 academic year, 649 were studying at the Sultan Qaboos University (SQU), 4,042 at private institutes, 23 at institutes of health science, nursing and pharmacy, 1,970 at higher colleges of technology, 675 at colleges of applied sciences, and 29 at the College of Sharia Sciences.
The total number of students enrolled in higher education institutions during the 2013-2014 academic year stood at 119,331. Out of this number, 68,786 were women and 50,545 were men.
The highest numbers of students belonged to private institutes (61,957), higher colleges of technology (34,165) and the Sultan Qaboos University (13,847). During the 2012-2013 year, a total of 6,618 students did not continue with their studies, out of whom 2,241 were female and 4,377 were male.