Amman, July 13 (Petra) - Amin Al Rawashdeh - The President of Princess Sumaya University for Technology, Prof. Mashhoor Al-Refai, said that the university is now working on a vertical expansion of Master's and PhD programs to achieve the university's ambition of becoming a prominent research university in the region.
During an interview with the Jordan News Agency (Petra) held on Tuesday, Prof. Al-Refai added that PSUT has, since its establishment and in realization of the directives of HRH Princess Sumaya bint El-Hassan, Chair of the University’s Board of Trustees, has not added programs that are already available in other Jordanian universities. Rather, its focus has been on pioneering programs in fields that are in demand in the labor market, such as e-Marketing and Social Media, Entrepreneurship, Artificial Intelligence, Data Science, Cybersecurity and Network Security Engineering.
He explained the mechanism followed by the university when launching academic programs, whereby a questionnaire is distributed to the concerned parties in order to choose the name of the program and study plans in partnership with the university. The ultimate aim is to produce graduates who possess the skills required by the labor market, such as entrepreneurial, leadership and technological skills, so the focus is on certification and the quality of the graduates, rather than the level of the qualification.
Prof. Al-Refai explained that the university has worked to develop a PhD program in Computer Science, and the program’s outputs are now comparable to those of international universities. Since the launch of the program, PSUT has provided full scholarships to enrolled students, with monthly stipends of 400 dinars per month for each student. This means that students are free to pursue their studies and scientific research, leading to publication in refereed scientific journals such as Scopus, and to participate in conferences in Western countries, enjoying financial support for this participation. Furthermore, PSUT brings in instructors from prestigious universities to teach on campus in order to benefit from the exchange of academic experiences through partnerships with international universities.
He pointed out that PSUT is now working on developing two PhD programs in Electrical Engineering and Business Administration, following the same mechanism as that used for the PhD program in Computer Science.
Addressing the procedures adopted by PSUT to deal with the Coronavirus pandemic, Prof. Al-Refai explained that the university has achieved great success with its online teaching and evaluation mechanism. He added that its success has been an exemplary experience, as PSUT is a technological university prepared in advance for this type of learning, using innovative methods in engaging the student with a stimulating interactive environment, as well as assessment mechanisms prepared in ways that guarantee and control learning outcomes that intersect with the results prior to the implementation of distance learning.
He pointed out that PSUT is now preparing to implement the Higher Education Council’s resolution to integrate e-learning into the higher education system. From the beginning of the upcoming First Semester, some courses will be taught entirely online while others will be taught completely face-to-face on campus. Selected courses will be taught via blended learning whereby some teaching will be carried out in person with the remainder online, without violating the educational learning process that guarantees real learning outcomes. Al-Refai pointed out that these steps embody the directives of His Majesty King Abdullah II regarding the necessity of integrating e-learning into the higher education system and making it a part of the educational process so that Jordan becomes a role model for e-learning in the region.
In terms of PSUT’s role in serving the local community, Prof. Al-Refai indicated that the university has adopted, since its inception, social responsibility as a national and moral duty, alongside its role as a center for scientific dissemination. He pointed out that the university believes in the policy of "the university without walls", actively seeking to open up to the community and form partnerships with its institutions, a policy which serves to enhance its progress and well-being, as its role is embodied by the dialogue of cultures, open science for all, humanitarian projects, entrepreneurship, and professional training.
Prof. Al-Refai also pointed out that PSUT works to build bridges of communication with the local community through volunteer, service and educational activities. For example, the university helped to establish schools in the Zaatari camp. It has also worked in cooperation with the University of Bath in the UK on the "Suitable housing for refugees living in difficult climatic conditions" project. A further project saw the establishment of the "Light of Knowledge" library in the Zaatari camp in cooperation with the Jordanian Library and Information Association. PSUT has also worked in cooperation with the international organization "Kiron", to provide online courses for Syrian refugees.
Prof. Al-Refai continued, "PSUT has held cybersecurity training workshops for government agencies, built software solutions for government agencies and non-profit agencies, held courses in network design, construction and maintenance, as well as participating in the Jordan Olympiad in Informatics competitions and the Jordanian Collegiate Programming Contest.” PSUT established the Queen Rania Center for Entrepreneurship in 2004 to help develop technology entrepreneurship in Jordan. Dr. Al-Refai pointed out that the university received the Order of Independence (First Class) from His Majesty King Abdullah II for its excellence in the ICT and business sector. It has also received five stars in the international QS Stars Ratings, as well as taking second and third place in the “Crown Prince Award for Best Government Services Application” for the year 2020. PSUT was placed first in the world and 10th, 78th, 79th, and 101st at the global level in the IEEEXtreme Programming Competition.
The university has taken first place for six consecutive years in the results of the University Proficiency Exam, in addition to winning third place in the world in the Microsoft Imagine Cup 2011 competition. In 2019, PSUT was the champion of the Middle East and Africa in the ACM Programming Competition.
Dr. Al-Refai pointed out that the university was distinguished by obtaining EU support for its projects, having received support for 44 projects, five of which are under PSUT management. Another outstanding feature is the development of qualitative programs at the university that are unique within Jordan, and its ranking of first in Jordan and sixteenth in the Arab region in terms of the ratio of the number of published research compared to the number of faculty members.