The President of Princess Sumaya University for Technology, Prof. Mashhoor Al-Refai, has suggested a scenario that would make a qualitative leap in bringing about the distinction of Jordanian universities on the global scene, saying that competition at the national level is no longer on the table. He explained that since the world is now smaller than a village in which everyone is competing, every university must strive to prove its competence in a specific field.
In a lecture called for by the Jordanian Academics Association, held through visual communication technology and introduced by the President of the Association, His Excellency Dr. Khaled Al-Omari, under the title: (National universities with global visions: Princess Sumaya University for Technology as a model) Al-Refai added that the tremendous acceleration in our world leaves no room for the university to expand horizontally, so it tries to excel in everything. However, what is needed is for universities to delve deep into a discipline in order to make a difference in it.
During his lecture, given in the presence of members of the Association, heads of Jordanian universities, professors from the higher education sector and the Accreditation Commission, Al-Refai clarified that PSUT, under the guidance of HRH Princess Sumaya bint El Hassan, Chair of the University's Board of Trustees, has devised an approach that strikes a balance between globalism and specialization. He pointed out that PSUT believes in the theory of consolidation based on reinforcing its strengths, and that the University has managed to grow without compromising quality and uniqueness, thus achieving its distinguished status that is recognized both locally and internationally.
Al-Refai affirmed that most Jordanian universities have the ability to excel that leads to universality, but this requires that they focus on and devote all their efforts to specific specializations. He suggested that each university choose a specialization that will be a center of excellence based on its QS World University Rankings by Subject.
In explaining the proposal, Al-Refai said that after choosing a focus of excellence, each university should be provided with the best possible facilities and equipment, with highly qualified faculty members selected, and students carefully recruited following methods other than those currently used. The next step would be the formation of advisory councils to work on networking between academia and industry, while seeking international accreditation to support progress. He pointed out that the matter requires the review of some legislation.
Al-Refai suggested that, within a few years, this scenario would bring about the existence of strong research centers with an international reputation in Jordan. This would create a desire to take similar steps in the remaining faculties, while providing opportunities for the exchange of experiences between prestigious Jordanian and international universities that support this effort.
In introducing the lecture, which was followed by an extensive discussion, Al-Omari praised Al-Refai’s vast expertise in the fields of scientific research and university administration. He stated that he looked forward to seeing his proposed ideas being implemented and serving to improve and develop higher education outcomes.
It should be noted that Prof. Al-Refai received a PhD degree in Mathematics with a subspecialty in Algebraic Topology from Colorado State University in the US in 1989. In 1993, he was awarded the Abdul Hameed Shoman Award for Young Arab Researchers in Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science. He later received the Best Instructor Award at the International Telematic University, Italy (Uninettono) in 2005. Al-Refai has published more than 60 papers in international journals, in addition to co-authoring 8 books. He previously served as a member of the Higher Education Council, as well as Vice President of Yarmouk University for Academic Affairs.