Executive leadership and performance improvement in higher education in Arab Countries

Background

Today, more than ever before in human history, the wealth or poverty of nations depends on the quality of HE. Revolutionary breakthroughs in the knowledge economy are leading to remarkable changes in the way forward-looking nations capacitate their graduates. In this era of global skills and knowledge race, all universities cannot fail to realise, accept and accomplish its natural and ascribed roles as a strategic agent for national development. Universities must confront new realities rapidly manifesting themselves in a diversely complex and fast-changing world. Business as usual will not suffice. Universities need to be expansively re-focused in order to become more sensitive and responsive to its mission of developing graduates who, in addition to conventional graduate training, are also able to fight the intellectual battle for self-confidence and self-assertion as equal players in the global and intensely competitive knowledge economy.

Whilst there has been a tremendous growth in size, the expansion of HE in almost all Arab countries has caused average quality of education to decline as resources are stretched increasingly thin. Essentially, the expansion has been less differentiated and, therefore, ill-planned to confront emergent development needs. Rather, what is evident is a stupendous replication of traditional disciplinary-based techniques of knowledge production. These have, nevertheless, increased the richness of knowledge about the universe we live in but without apparently translating or transforming the catchment societal environments in terms of measurable productive capacities. There are also grave concerns that HE in most Arab countries is becoming increasingly obsolete which, in part, is why development programmes are stultified even from the outset. There are also serious issues regarding the under-performance in research – state of academic research is less-than-satisfactory in almost all universities in the Arab countries. Therefore, Arab HE institutions must confront the ‘new realities’ evident in the environments in which they operate. Many scholars and policy makers have called for a transformative innovation agenda which embraces radical change for new synthesis and approaches for transforming HE in the Arab countries.

Youth in the Arab region are growing fast and governments in the region expect their universities and research institutes to make a leading contribution by producing graduates ready to grasp the various opportunities generated in the digital economy. It is therefore important that all HE institutions and societies to consider the youth in all their curriculum design, programs development as well as fulfilling their role as major agents in the realisation of the various future strategic visions in most countries in the region. According to recent reports by the World Bank, with a large youth representation and youth unemployment ratio, the Arab region faces a potential crisis and the education sector should be reformed to include specific qualifications and specialisations in the digital economy. The private sector can play a larger role in helping governments and academia focus investments on high-priority and high demand skills, thus young students are ready for employment the moment they graduate.

Aims and objectives

This two-day workshop has been designed to introduce a variety of perspectives on leadership in the public and private sector with more focus on the higher education (HE) institutions (universities, colleges and research institutes). The workshop aims to enable leaders and decision makers to introduce fit-for-purpose leadership styles and approaches to their organisations. At the end of the workshop attendees should be able to acquire a comprehensive knowledge and practical experience about leadership styles and approaches in alignment with the local needs and capabilities. The key objectives of the workshop are:

  • This integrative workshop aims to develop a deeper understanding of the theoretical and practical aspects to leadership within HE, and to develop the essential skills and competencies necessary to plan, monitor and control different tasks and events.
  • Develop an understanding of the different approaches to leadership and management to ensure HE is at peace with itself.
  • How universities can reposition and rebrand themselves as an excellent provider of transformative education, achieve national and international recognition.
  • How universities can handle effectively the changing expectations of students; increased competition in the sector; reduction in income; changing technology and other issues.
  • This workshop will also complement the different management skills already developed through earlier other (if any) management training and courses.
  • How to ensure HE is confident about its future.
  • In addition, participants will have insight into: critical analysis; interactive and team working; creativity; and problem solving.

Target participants

  • The workshop covers materials for all levels from supervisory through to senior level.
  • Higher education officials: minsters, undersecretaries, vice chancellors, deans, head of department, etc.
  • Academics and researchers.
  • Students, youth, NGOs (voluntary) and civil society groups (public).
  • Professionals, businesses and other stakeholders particularly the private sector managers responsible for leading change and transformation efforts.
  • Managers and directors responsible for transformation, projects, programmes, knowledge, innovation or change management.
  • Experienced managers who have significant futures oriented management responsibilities, and who are interested in reflecting on their own experience and discovering new ideas.

Workshop material

Included in the course fee, the following learning materials will be provided:

  • All overhead slides/transparencies.
  • Case studies (print and video) used on the course.
  • Certificate of attendance from WASD.
PROGRAM OVERVIEW

DAY ONE

  • Arrival refreshment and registration
  • Welcome and overview
  • General introduction to leadership
  • Strategic leadership and planning
  • Difference between leadership and management
  • Leadership skills and tactics
  • Group exercise and personal reflection

DAY TWO

  • Arrival Refreshment and reflection on day one
  • Understanding the problem in HE
  • Aspects of the transforming learning and teaching
  • Role of HE in knowledge-based economy
  • Effective leadership in HE
  • Lessons learned from great leaders
  • Speaking in public places and become an aspiring leader
  • Discussion and reflection – next steps
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