Qatar's education sector supported by infrastructure investment

 

Qatar’s education sector has a rich mixture of state and independent kindergartens, schools and universities bolstered by continued investment aimed at serving a growing population and supporting the country’s economic development. Education administrators pay close attention to international standards and indices that measure student learning outcomes and are working through a five-year reform programme to enhance the performance of schools and universities. The education system also serves to preserve and promote an understanding of Qatari culture, history and values.

History

Formal education in Qatar dates back to the early 1950s, when the Education Law of 1954 was passed. In 2001 and 2002 the education sector underwent significant reform in structure and teaching practice. At this time the Education for a New Era reform movement championed a pupil-centred pedagogical approach focusing on inquiry, discovery and critical thinking to replace the rote learning and teacher-centred system then practised in most of the country’s schools. Significant curriculum reforms were introduced in Arabic, mathematics, science and English as well as changes to the management structure of education in Qatar.

Structure & Oversight

In November 2002 the Supreme Education Council (SEC) was established by Amiri Decree No. 37 to implement and develop sector reforms, while in 2009 an Amiri decree placed staff and schools operated by the Ministry of Education under the authority of the SEC. Three institutes operated under the SEC umbrella: the Education Institute, which oversaw independent and semi-independent schools; the Evaluation Institute, which developed and conducted national assessments, and evaluated the performance of kindergarten to grade 12 (K-12) schools and nurseries; and the Higher Education Institute, which administered university scholarship programmes and helped students prepare for international higher education entrance examinations. In January 2016 this administrative structure was changed as the SEC merged with the Ministry of Education into a new ministry, the Ministry of Education and Higher Education (MEHE). In June 2013 Mohammed Abdul Wahed Ali Al Hammadi was appointed minister of education and higher education, and secretary-general of the SEC, retaining his role after the 2016 reform. He is president of Qatar National Commission for Education, Culture and Science. The minister and his deputy also preside over five assistant deputy ministers responsible for shared services, higher education, evaluation, private education and education.

Along with the MEHE, Qatar Foundation (QF) for Education, Science and Community Development plays a significant and influential role in the country’s education system. The non-profit organisation was created in 1995 with a $2bn fund from Amir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani and Sheikha Moza bint Nasser. Sheikha Moza serves as chairperson of QF, and holds other roles in education and health care. For example, she is currently a member of the UN secretary-general’s Steering Committee for the Global Education First Initiative. In its 25-year history QF has developed 50 separate entities devoted to education, research and community. The QF’s 12-sq km Education City campus hosts nine universities, 11 schools, Qatar National Library, and three specialised research centres (see analysis).

Budget Fluctuation

Details of anticipated spending are given in annual budget statements from the Ministry of Finance (MoF), with actual spending reported later. MoF data shows that Qatar has continued to invest in education, but that some government spending was curtailed in response to the sharp fall in oil and gas prices in 2014-15. Based on an average oil price assumption of $48 a barrel, in 2016 Qatar predicted its first budget deficit in 15 years and a number of rationalisations in government spending were made at the same time. The World Bank reported that funding to QF was cut by 40% that year. While QF’s educational entities may fall outside of MEHE jurisdiction, the foundation itself does receive central government funding.

The subsequent increase in oil prices and Qatar’s successful recovery from the blockade imposed by neighbouring countries saw budgets anticipating surpluses of QR4.3bn ($1.2bn) and QR500m ($137.2m) in 2019 and 2020, respectively, based on a conservative oil price estimate of $55 per barrel. As a result, planned expenditure in government wages and salaries picked up to QR52.2bn ($14.3bn) in 2018, QR57.1bn ($15.7bn) in 2019 and QR59bn ($16.2bn) in 2020. MoF data for actual expenditure on government salaries and wages saw a more pronounced 10.3% fall from QR59.2bn ($16.2bn) in 2016 to QR53.1bn ($14.6bn) in 2017, followed by an uptick of 4.9% to QR55.7bn ($15.3bn) in 2018, the most recent full-year expenditure record available. Annual budget statements show that despite economic and political headwinds as well as ongoing expenditure to support 2022 FIFA World Cup preparations, education retained about a one-tenth share in planned expenditure in the five years from 2016 to 2020. Indeed, in 2016 education was allocated QR20.4bn ($5.59bn), or 10.1% of budget spending, with a slight increase to QR20.6bn ($5.65bn) in 2017, or 10.4%, followed by two years of lower allocations in both 2018 and 2019, where allocation stood at QR19bn ($5.2bn) and QR19.2bn ($5.3bn), totalling 9.4% and 9.3% of budget spending, respectively. In 2020, however, there was a QR3bn ($823.4m) boost, raising expenditure to QR22.1bn ($6.1bn), equivalent to 10.5% of total budgeted spending.

Infrastructure Spending

At the time of the 2016 budget, about QR17bn ($4.7bn) worth on capital projects associated with education were in the works, including expansion projects at QF and Qatar University (QU), in addition to the construction of 18 new schools and six kindergartens. Projects at QU that year included a new laboratory for the Faculty of Sciences, a student affairs building, a student hostel, and improvements to the colleges of Engineering, Education, Law and Medicine.

Further improvements to those QU facilities, as well as spending on the Pharmacology department, were highlighted in the 2017 budget, which also mentioned funding for improvements to QF’s Education City’s research, infrastructure and transport facilities. That same year the government announced it was working on 17 new schools and nurseries while completing construction work on 28 other projects.

The 2018 budget included some of the same schemes as in the previous two years, such as a five-year QR6.8bn ($1.9bn) project to construct new schools. Part of the 8.8% increase in public wages and salaries that year was the result of additional costs of staffing newly completed schools.

Ongoing spending on these major education projects was again highlighted in the 2019 budget with the addition of new construction projects to provide student housing and lecture halls at QU, new building work at Community College of Qatar and at MEHE headquarters, and the construction of two new schools for Qatar Academy. Some local media outlets posited that education expenditure in the 2020 budget would be devoted to completing capital projects that had already been announced.

Economic Impact

Although schools and universities may make a relatively modest contribution to GDP in Qatar, the education sector has seen significant and sustained growth. The latest data released by the Planning and Statistics Authority (PSA) shows that in the first quarter of 2019 the education sector accounted for 2.2% of GDP at current prices, or QR3.7bn ($1bn). This represents growth of 5.4% since the final quarter of 2018, or 8% year-on-year. It was the strongest 12-month growth of any sector in the economy. In 2018 the sector’s contribution to GDP at current prices was QR14bn ($3.8bn), an increase of 6% on 2017 and equivalent to 2% of total GDP. From 2013 to 2018, the education sector in Qatar saw a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.79%.

Policy & Strategy

In addition to its economic significance, the education sector is regarded as a key pillar of the country’s strategy to diversify away from a dependence on hydrocarbons income and to develop sectors that can generate new sources of wealth capable of sustaining generations to come. These aims and aspirations are articulated in Qatar National Vision 2030. In the intervening years since the strategy was first conceived in 2008, two consecutive five-year plans have been launched with clearly focused and measurable targets for reform: National Development Strategy 2011-16 (NDS-1) and National Development Strategy 2018-22 (NDS-2).

While the strategy has an impact on all government departments, the development of human capital sits at the heart of the process. The Education and Training Sector Strategy (ETSS) 2017-22 uses an outcome-based approach to planning rather than project-based one, and is built around one main and 15 intermediate outcomes, reflecting aspirations across three tiers of education: preschool; K-12, including high school, and technical and vocational education and training (TVET); and post-secondary, including university and more advanced TVET. The second ETSS builds on the experience of the first 2011-16 period, where 29 projects were launched to bring about improvements across the system. In the 2017-22 period two new initiatives were added: the provision of more high-quality early childhood education, and an increased emphasis on literacy and numeracy skills in the first three years of school.

Education administrators acknowledge that there are considerable challenges in encouraging young citizens to acquire expertise in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects, which would ultimately enable them to thrive in the private sector, and that it has also proved difficult to attract and retain young Qataris in TVET courses.

In addition, education administrators also acknowledge that both challenges need to be overcome if the private sector is to develop Qatar into a knowledge-based economy. “Project financing alone will not lead to growth. It must also be driven by strategic planning, which depends on the cultivation of democratised knowledge, and on providing leaders with the opportunities to grow intellectually, think freely and innovate,” Ahmad Dallal, dean of Georgetown University in Qatar (GU-Q), told OBG.

The main outcome envisaged in the ETSS 2017-22 is to provide an advanced education system that can prepare its young people for a diversified economy. The 15 intermediate outcomes are built around four pillars: enrolment; attainment and achievement; the values, culture and heritage of Qatar as well as of other cultures; and the skills, effectiveness and efficiency of the education and training sector workforce at all educational levels. The success in achieving targets in 2022 will be benchmarked against outcomes achieved in 2015.

Sector Breakdown

Data from the PSA shows that in 2018, of an estimated population of 2.8m people, 23% were in some form of education or training, for a total of 635,921 pupils, students and trainees, not counting graduates. Qatari citizens are entitled to free schooling at both the primary and secondary level and receive generous university scholarships. Families can choose from a wide variety of international curricula at private schools in Qatar while Arabic-speaking children can enrol in state schools. The education system is divided into five levels, namely: preschool, primary school, preparatory school, secondary school and university. Primary school, which includes grades 1 to 6, and preparatory school which spans grades 7 to 9 are compulsory. Meanwhile, the higher education segment in Qatar offers foundation, undergraduate and postgraduate courses, as well as continuing professional development options.

Public Education

The school system in Qatar reflects, to a large extent, the wider demographics of a country that has attracted significant numbers of migrant workers since the discovery of oil and gas accelerated its economic development. PSA data shows Qataris make up just 8.6% of the workforce population aged 15 and above, with 203,217 nationals from a potential workforce of around 2.4m people. A significant number of the country’s migrant workers are single males without dependents, but many have also brought families with them or have started families since settling in Qatar. The result is that Qatari children accounted for 32.3% of the 315,800 pupils enrolled in the country’s schools and nurseries in the 2017/18 academic year.

Qatari children are entitled to free state education, but their families can also send them to a wide variety of private schools with a government voucher scheme covering a significant proportion of the fees at some of these schools. PSA data for the 2017/18 academic year shows 65,185 Qatari children constituted 55.2% of the 117,926 children enrolled in state nurseries and schools. That same year state schools taught the lower proportion of all pupils in Qatar, both nationals and expatriates, with the exception of secondary school pupils. Indeed, public enrolment accounted for 16.2% of preschool pupils, 36% of primary school pupils, 47.1% of preparatory school pupils and 54.4% of pupils enrolled at secondary level.

According to the NDS-2, nursery education for children up to the age of four falls under the Ministry of Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs (MADLSA). Based on 2015 data, the NDS-2 reported that 40% of children in the three- to fiveyear-old age bracket did not enrol that year. The strategy aims to improve the quality of preschool education and develop a comprehensive strategy including standards and policies while also launching awareness campaigns to encourage parents to take their young children to kindergartens and nurseries. The formal targets for early-year education in the NDS-2 include a 10% increase in the enrolment of both three-year-olds in formal nurseries, and of four- to five-year-olds in early childhood education programmes by the end of 2022. In addition, from the 2018/19 academic year on, the national strategy expects to see a more formal assessment of the cognitive skills of children in preschool education, with the help of MADLSA and QF.

Public Enroment

In 2017/18 the public sector had 323 schools including 159 schools for boys and 159 for girls, as well as three mixed nurseries and two mixed primary schools. The public sector also offered pupils the option to attend a specialised secondary school. In 2017/18, 690 students chose that option, 90 of them girls. Most of the students at specialised schools were Qatari, with just 36 boys and six girls of other nationalities enrolled. Fewer pupils attended these schools that year than in 2015/16, when 1148 pupils were enrolled including 654 Qataris. At that time 473 boys were attending a religious institute and 459 boys were enrolled at technical schools offering TVET subjects. Of the 216 students studying business and banking, 53 were girls. In the public system overall, 96% of girls and 90% of boys successfully completed their school year in 2017/18. Meanwhile, PSA data shows enrolment in public schools increased by 19,018 from 98,908 in 2013/14 to 117,926 in 2017/18. This represents a 19.2% increase overall and a CAGR of 3.58%. This rise in demand has fuelled repeated investment in the construction of new schools and classrooms over that period. The Public Works Authority completed the construction of 13 new state schools and kindergartens in time for the 2017/18 academic year. The combined value of the construction projects was QR878m ($241m). Each school had 25 classrooms to accommodate some 650 pupils while the two kindergartens each had 12 classrooms to cater for 240 pupils. In September 2019 the MEHE announced plans to build seven more schools, including two for children who have special needs.

Private Education

From 2013/14 to 2017/18 there was a marked increase in the numbers of pupils studying at private schools. Over that period private school enrolment grew by 51,550 from 146,324 to 197,874 students, a 35% increase and a CAGR of 6.22%. The PSA data does not indicate the extent to which this increase was driven by greater numbers of Qataris opting for private education or by a growing influx of expatriate children.

However, the NDS-2 report does note that an education voucher scheme launched in 2008 had been extended to all Qataris in 2012. As of August 2019 the scheme could be used by parents at 99 private schools in the country that had achieved national or international accreditation, with the maximum value of the vouchers set at QR28,000 ($7690) per annum.

Private sector education is also affected by a number of factors related to the length of stay in Qatar by expatriate families and the decisions those families make about their children’s education. In the 2017/18 academic year Qataris accounted for 22% of independent preschool pupils, 18% of private primary school children, 18% of private preparatory students and 17% of private secondary school students.

At the same time the proportion of Qatari national students attending private schools fell with each stage from preschool to secondary school in the 2017/18 academic year. Indeed, 56% of Qatari children attended independent preschools, 38% went to private primaries, 27% to private preparatory schools and 21% to private secondary schools. In contrast, the proportions of expatriate children who attended independent schools were much higher, which to a large extent reflects their lack of choice. However, the proportion of expatriate children educated in Qatar who attended private schools also fell as they progressed through the education system, from 97% in kindergarten to 75% in primary school, and from 67% in preparatory school to 60% in secondary.

The data showed that among expatriate children a slightly higher proportion of boys were privately educated compared to girls, 76% versus 74% in primary school, and 61% compared to 59% in secondary school. The disparity between schools for boys and girls was more pronounced among Qataris, with 42% of boys attending private primary schools compared to almost 34% of girls. The biggest disparity was found at the secondary school level, where just under 15% of Qatari girls were privately educated compared to 27% of Qatari boys. In 2017/18, 98% of girls and 97% of boys successfully completed their school year in independent schools. The lower proportions of children, both Qatari and expatriate, attending independent secondary school may reflect their plans for higher education. Wealthier expatriate children may be sent to boarding schools in their home country as they prepare for university entrance, while Qatari families may be more reluctant to send daughters to study abroad than sons and so are less inclined to pay for them to attend schools that focus on international examinations such as A Levels in the UK. Families must also pay higher fees for secondary private education than for kindergarten or primary school. In February 2019 the MEHE approved fee increases at 28 schools and nurseries for 2019/20.

New Private Schools

In February 2019 the state news agency, Qatar News Agency, reported that there were 287 private schools and kindergartens in Qatar. The MEHE controls the licensing of private schools and kindergartens and also the approval process for school fees. Six months earlier, at the start of the 2018/19 academic year, local media reported that 13 new private schools, including two Indian community schools, were set to open with an additional 6021 school places. The same month it was reported that the MEHE had signed contracts to lease government land for six new private schools providing more than 8000 additional school places over two years. The contracts were signed with Ta’ allum Group, Doha British School, Al Sraiya Trading and Contracting British School of Qatar, Sherborne Qatar School for Girls, Dar Al Salam Education Company and King’s College Doha. Among these schools, five are to follow the UK system and one the Indian syllabus.

For the 2018/19 academic year parents could choose between 25 different curricula. While children can attend schools adhering to dozens of different international systems, the MEHE requires that all schools in the country teach Arabic, Islamic studies and about the history of Qatar. A workshop organised for private schools by the MEHE in September 2019 stipulated that each week independent schools should deliver four hours of Arabic, two hours of Islamic studies and one hour of Qatari history.

International Comparisons

One way of measuring the extent to which children are receiving quality education is their performance in international tests designed to compare education systems around the world. Pupils in Qatar take part in both the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), and the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). TIMSS was first launched in 1995 and is conducted over a four-year cycle, testing students in the equivalent of the US’ grades 4 and 8 in maths, science and reasoning. PISA was introduced in 2000 and is repeated every three years, testing 15-year-olds in reading, maths and science.

The NDS-2 document reflected on performances in both tests up to and including the 2015 versions, noting that although there had been significant improvements, Qatar still ranked lower than expected. The international average score in each of the TIMSS tests was 500. In Qatar, fourth-graders’ average score in maths climbed from 296 in 2007 to 413 in 2011 and 439 in 2015, while in science the scores climbed from 294 to 394 and 436, respectively. In grade 8 maths, the scores rose from 307 to 410 and 437, while in science the three consecutive tests for grade 8 students saw average scores improve from 319 to 419 and 457. In the 2015 TIMSS assessment for grade 4 maths only 3% of students in Qatar received the highest scores, compared to 6% internationally, while 35% failed to achieve the minimum level, compared to 7% internationally. The NDS-2 set a target to improve performances in the tests by 2022, when it hopes to see the numbers of students who achieve 70% or higher in the subjects of maths, science, Arabic and English increase by 3% in grades 3 and 6, and by 6% in grades 9 and 12. In order to achieve these results the strategy documents suggests the most successful schools should share best practices with those whose students are not achieving such high scores, that teachers should receive better training and that an increased emphasis should be placed on literacy and numeracy skills in a child’s early years.

The TIMSS 2019 results will not be announced until December 2020, but the 2018 PISA tests results have been published. This latest data shows that while the current group of 15-year-old students performed better than those in previous years, the pace of improvement has levelled off. In reading, maths and science students placed below the average of the 36 member countries of the OECD.

In Qatar, approximately 49% of students achieved at least level two in reading compared to 77% in the OECD, and 3% were in the top level compared to 9% in the OECD. In maths, 46% of Qatari students attained level two or higher, with 3% reaching level five, compared to OECD averages of 76% and 11%, respectively. In science, 52% of Qataris reached level two or higher, with 2% at level 5 or 6, compared to OECD averages of 78% and 7%, respectively. Lastly, from 2015 to 2018 the average scores by 15-year-olds from Qatar in reading, maths and science increased from 402, 402 and 418, to 407, 414 and 419, respectively.

The 2018 PISA results released in December 2019 showed girls in Qatar outperformed boys in all three tests. A total of 13,828 students from 188 schools took the tests, equivalent to 92% of all 15-year-old pupils in the country. Among the countries taking part, girls outperformed boys in the reading tests by 30 points, but the gender gap in Qatar was much higher, at 65 points, up from 50 points in 2009. Across OECD countries, boys outperformed girls by five points in maths, but in Qatar girls surpassed boys by 24 points. Lastly, in OECD countries, girls were two points ahead of boys in science, yet in Qatar the girls were ahead by a margin of 39 points. However, girls from Qatar were less likely to use their skills in industry, with just one in five of the highest-performing girls expecting to work as an engineer or science professional, while three in eight hoped to pursue a health-related profession and just 1% of girls expected to work in ICT-related professions.

The PISA survey found that 57% of students from Qatar who took the tests in 2018 were from an immigrant background, compared to 46% in 2009. Average reading performance among immigrant students in Qatar was found to be 77 points ahead of non-immigrants, with 36% of immigrant students scoring in the top quarter of reading performance, compared to 17% of immigrant students in OECD countries.

Staff

In the 2017/18 academic year 26,856 teachers were working across all school levels, attending to 315,800 children. The pupil-to-teacher ratio was higher among private schools, where 13,015 teachers instructed 197,874 pupils, compared to the 13,841 teachers and 117,926 pupils at public schools.

Public schools compromised 10,128 female teachers, 467 of whom taught boys in preschool and 2347 of whom taught boys in primary schools. The 3713 male teachers all taught in boys’ schools, with 763 in primary schools, 1399 in preparatory schools, 1437 in general secondary schools and 114 in specialist secondary schools. Meanwhile, in the private sector, there were 3345 male teachers teaching at all stages, including three in preschools and 1789 in private primary schools. As for female teachers, 9670 of them were working in private schools, outnumbering male teachers at every level of private education.

In public schools, 3954 out of 13,841 teachers were Qatari, including 225 men. Among non-Qatari teachers in the public sector, 6399 out of 9887 were women, with 65% of them working in kindergartens or primary schools. In addition, more than 70% of public school administrators were Qatari.

Lastly, in the private sector, the number of teachers in Arabic private schools fell from 725 in 2013/14 to 688 in 2017/18. Over the same period the number of teachers in foreign independent schools grew from 9104 to 12,327. There were 32 Qatari teachers in private schools in 2017/18, including six men.

As for higher education, there were 1364 academic staff on the faculty of public universities in 2017/18, up from 1008 in 2013/14. Over that period the number of Qatari academics increased from 191 to 304 while the number of Qatari professors grew from 12 to 22. Of the 2136 academics and administrative staff working in private universities in Qatar in 2017/18, 132 were Qatari, including six assistant professors, one associate professor and one professor.

Teacher Training

In 2017/18, 299 students were enrolled in education degree programmes at public universities in Qatar. There were 172 Qataris undertaking undergraduate courses, while 12 were pursuing specialist diplomas, three studied for a master’s degree in education leadership, and one was completing a special education master’s degree. A total of 29 students were studying for specialist diplomas in early childhood, primary, secondary or special education, while 10 were taking master’s degree courses in education leadership and three studied for master’s degrees in special education. More specifically, there were 172 Qataris undertaking undergraduate courses, while 12 were taking specialist diplomas, three studied for the master’s degree in education leadership, and one pursued the special education master’s degree.

Higher Education

Higher education in Qatar dates back to 1973 when an Amiri decree founded the first national College of Education. In 1977 QU was founded, and it continues to offer the widest range of academic programmes in the country, with 45 undergraduate degrees, 27 master’s degrees and eight PhD courses, as well as four diplomas and a doctor of pharmacy (PharmD) qualification. QU has 10 colleges on its Doha campus where men and women study separately. In the 2018/19 academic year it registered 21,474 students, 77% of whom were women, at 16,485, while Qatari citizens represented 66% of the total student body, at 14,115.

In 2018 QU awarded 2875 undergraduate degrees, 33 diplomas, 233 masters, 11 PharmD and 11 PhDs. Of the qualifications awarded, 31% were in art and science, 23% in business and economics, 17% in engineering and 12% in education. QU notes that 56% of its 3153 graduating students were Qatari, while 76% of graduates were women.

“Looking at the bigger societal picture, one can see that young men in Qatar have far more options, such as studying abroad or attending military schools. We believe this explains the higher proportion of female students,” Darwish Al Emadi, chief strategy and development officer at QU, told OBG. Qatar’s government provides generous scholarships for citizens wishing to study abroad, but the male-to-female ratio is reversed among this body of students. In 2017/18, 762 Qatari males were studying abroad on scholarships compared to 376 Qatari women. The UK was the most popular destination, with 295 women and 521 men on scholarships there, followed by the US, with 186 men and 48 women.

Education City

The growth of QF’s Education City has given students in Qatar more options in recent years, with leading international universities opening branch campuses there, often focusing on specific areas of study. Students can choose from a variety of institutions, including Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar, with courses in science, business and technology; Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts; GU-Q for a Bachelor of Science in Foreign Service; Texas A&M University at Qatar, which specialises in engineering; Weill Cornell Medicine in Qatar; University College London Qatar for cultural heritage; HEC Paris in Qatar for executive education; Northwestern University in Qatar for media and communications; or the homegrown Hamad bin Khalifa University for graduate studies. In 2017/18 Education City hosted some 2505 students, which included 332 Qatari men and 991 Qatari women.

Elsewhere, at Education City, Georgetown University in Qatar (GU-Q) has an office of executive and professional education to promote lifelong learning. As well as community education within Qatar, GU-Q enables Qataris to participate in programmes in its home Washington, DC campus, including the International Executive master’s degree in Emergency and Disaster Management and the Global Executive master’s degree in Business Administration. GU-Q also works as an academic partner to the government’s Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy’s Josoor Institute to improve capabilities in sports and events industries in Qatar (see analysis). Qatar has also reaped significant benefits from branch campuses that have opened in recent years. In 2019 Georgetown University in Qatar (GU-Q) published a record of the 100 books written by faculty, staff and researchers since its foundation in 2005. “This is a significant achievement reflective of a vibrant research culture in Qatar,” Dallal said at the time.

International Options

Beyond Education City, Qatar is home to branch campuses of the College of the North Atlantic, NHL Stenden University of Applied Sciences, the University of Calgary and the University of Aberdeen, which in January 2019 announced a £100m investment in partnership with Al Faleh Group to build a new campus enabling it to expand its degree offering from business to STEM subjects, medical sciences, law and politics. Other universities include Qatar Aeronautical College, Doha Institute for Graduate Studies and University Foundation College, which are private. Overall, there were 7822 students enrolled at private universities – including Education City institutions – in 2017/18. The wide variety of international higher education institutions has given students and their parents more options. “Prospective students and their parents sometimes do not fully understand the benefits of our bachelor of science degree in foreign service, for example,” Moamer Qazafi, chief communications officer at GU-Q, told OBG. “The expertise gained by alumni of engineering, medicine and law might be more obvious to them, but we can show them – through the career destinations of our graduates – that although the world does need technical professionals, it also needs people who can create policy and promote civil society.” GU-Q’s first cohort graduated in 2009, and by the end of the 2017/18 academic year it had produced 439 graduates, 163 of them Qatari citizens.

Outlook

Qatar’s young citizens have a growing range of schooling options from kindergarten through to postgraduate study. Standards and outcomes, however, remain under scrutiny and pressure from the authorities to improve. The primary school pupils of 2020 will be the graduates of 2030, and it is this generation that will be expected to create and sustain the development of Qatar’s diversified knowledge-based economy. Government efforts to improve outcomes and global rankings among primary and secondary students, as well as the influx of an array of international universities, are set to ensure sustained growth over the medium term.

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The Report: Qatar 2020

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