The Mandate, the Vision, and the Mission
In the words of the founding president of the UAE, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, "Education is like a lantern which lights your way in a dark alley”. Sheikh Zayed (may his soul rest in peace) led the nation during an era that saw the UAE transform itself from a small cluster of emirates to one of the most modern countries in the world.
In 1987, Sheikh Zayed gave a clear mandate to the chancellor of UAE University, Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahayan, to establish a system of technical institutions to train and develop young UAE nationals in technical specializations. Sheikh Nahayan set the vision for a world-class higher education institution that would be the leading provider of tertiary education in the UAE, would meet the country's need for a large and skilled workforce, and would become the best-in-class institution in the Gulf region. The new, federally funded system was named the Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT).
An Unique Rehabilitation program designed to assist inmates
In 2006, the UAE Ministry of the Interior, in collaboration with the Higher Colleges of Technology, initiated a bold and unique training and development program custom-designed to provide prison inmates with soft skills and technical competencies that would help them join the workforce upon release and to be positively reformed and reintegrated with the society.
Every second year, hundreds of tertiary students from all over the world and from all walks of life gather in the United Arab Emirates for one purpose – to exchange ideas on how to make the world a better place.
The platform for such intensive thinking, discussion and knowledge sharing is Education Without Borders (EWB) – one of the flagship conferences of the Higher Colleges of Technology.
Educational Technology at the Higher Colleges of Technology is driven by the principal that technology helps to engage students in learning process. Students across 16 HCT campuses learn in a technologically sophisticated educational environment that encourages the development of independent and life-long learning skills, necessary to succeed in a fast changing world.
As their first priority, HCT's leaders focused on establishing a reputation for program quality. While enrollment levels, the diversity of offerings, and the cost per student were basic considerations, the quality of the learning experience was considered paramount. This pursuit of excellence became the driving force for the system's development and change. In the early years, admission was highly selective and no effort was spared to ensure that students had access to world-class learning resources, equipment, facilities, and faculty, totally free of cost.
Since its inception, HCT has responded well to the challenges of dramatic growth by adopting innovations in curriculum design and delivery and by aggressively recruiting faculty from more than 80 countries faculty who are qualified to teach vocational programs whose students have basic levels of academic knowledge and English communication skills.
Its mission statement, crafted in 1988 by Sheikh Nahayan, addressed both the president's mandate and the chancellor's vision. It has stood the test of time during the rapid development of HCT and the UAE:
“The Higher Colleges of Technology are dedicated to the delivery of technical and professional programs of the highest quality to the students, within the context of sincere respect for all beliefs and values.
Graduates of the Colleges will have the linguistic ability to function effectively in an international environment; the technical skills to operate in an increasingly complex technological world; the intellectual capacity to adapt to constant change; and the leadership potential to make the fullest possible contribution to the development of the community for the good of all its people.”
As chancellor, Sheikh Nahayan initiated a fast-track implementation to convert the president's vision into the practical reality of state-of-the-art campuses offering career-oriented programs. A select number of technical programs, curriculum details, and infrastructure were expeditiously put in place with the assistance of international experts.
As a direct interpretation of its mission, HCT embarked on technical education that would
• Be relevant to the needs of local government, business, and industry.
• Prepare graduates for a globally competitive marketplace, with English as the language of instruction in programs that were benchmarked against, and accredited by, international best practices.
• Develop graduates with the holistic aptitudes and core competencies sought by all top industries, irrespective of specific vocational skills.
• Continue to seek feedback from local industry through a system of program advisory committees (PACs), and to adjust program offerings and content so that HCT graduates would be work-ready immediately upon graduation.
• Equip graduates with lifelong learning skills and technology prowess so they would be able to upgrade their skills throughout their careers.