Muscat: Growth in Oman's transportation industry and introduction of Islamic banking in the Sultanate in 2013 has resulted in new academic programmes to ensure that young Omanis can acquire the qualifications needed for many news jobs.
At the Higher Education Exhibition 2014 continuing for the past three days at the Oman International Exhibition Centre, a number of colleges and universities were hoping to attract potential students with their new degrees, many of which will lead to jobs in airports, marine ports, railways and in Islamic banks.
"Oman has new companies like the Port of Duqm, Sohar Port and Freezone, and new airports. We are advising students to look forward for jobs in those areas," explained Haitham Al Bulushi from the National Career Guidance Centre.
A number of universities and colleges are paying attention to the industrial developments in Oman and introducing new diplomas and degrees accordingly. The Modern College of Business and Science has a B.Sc. in Transport and Logistics Management and a B.Sc. in Information Security that will start this fall, which will complement degrees in Aviation Management and Airport Management launched two years ago.
"We have done research and we know what the country will need 10 years from now. We need educated people who will be able to work, for example, on a train, or in the new ports or things related to that," explained Ahmed Al Rashdi, a spokesperson for Modern College. The German University of Technology, GUtech, is also starting a B.Sc. in Logistics this fall. Graduates will be able to work in a number of careers, including as logistics engineers, planners or supply-chain managers.
The International Maritime College Oman is making studying easier for working people by starting a three-year part-time B.Sc. in Logistic, Port and Shipping Management. It's aimed at people who already have a diploma in a relevant field of study and at least a year of work experience.
An increasing demand for Islamic banking services in Oman has resulted in new finance degrees, too. Modern College will start offering an MBA in Islamic Banking in 2015, while the College of Banking and Financial Studies (CBFS) has a B.Sc. in Islamic Finance starting in September.
"We introduced this because of the demand. All the commercial banks are starting to open their own Islamic banking branches," said Sherifa Al Maskary from the CBFS.
The CBFS is also launching its own degrees geared towards local students. Rather than affiliated with an international university, these degrees are issued by the college itself and have a lower English requirement. Students can choose from Islamic Finance, Banking and Finance, Accounting, Auditing and Finance, and Business Administration.
"Students will have the option to study the University of Bradford programme or the local programme. Sometimes the admission criteria for Bradford prove to be difficult for students, especially in terms of IELTS, and our Islamic Finance is completely different," explained Al Maskary.
While the trends in new programmes lean towards Islamic banking, logistics and transportation, there are a few other new programmes students can enrol in this fall, too. The Scientific College of Design has established degrees in photography and architecture, which will complement their existing subjects which include fashion, fine arts, graphic design and interior design. "We had a course in photography but many students asked for more, so we decided to offer a four-year degree. We did a survey to see what people wanted and found out that photography is so important, while architecture is good to go with interior design," said Majda Al Busaidi, who was busy telling a number of curious students about the new programmes.
Al Zahra College for Women is also offering two new degrees starting in September. The first is a B.Sc. in Software Engineering, while the second is a Bachelor in Law, which will be taught in Arabic. There is growing demand for these programmes, according to Nasra Al Habsi, a representative from Al Zahra. "Our local community needs these programmes, especially for women. We are only the second private college to introduce Law," said Al Habsi.
Dhofar University is offering an MBA taught in English medium for the first time. Though the university already has an MBA taught in Arabic, there is an increasing demand for the same degree taught in English. "Most students already took their bachelors' degrees in English and they want to continue studying in English," said Salama Al Mashani from the Dhofar University.
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