In order to achieve top quality standards for Higher Education, Supreme Education Council along with Qatar Foundation, Ministry of Education and other leading institutions in country are designing policies that will help them in overcoming the barriers and challenges that are hampering required progression of this sector. The main challenged being faced by Higher Education sector are lack of qualified teachers who can motivate students to acquire higher education, improper information availability about various career opportunities both within the country and in foreign countries, insufficient guidance on acquiring education that will help them in making a prospering career, lack of national curriculum that provides proper guidance to teachers on preparing students for higher education, English language standard is incompatible with international university standard and growing need of getting job at an early stage as opposed to obtaining higher education (Coughlan, 2012; Nasser, 2012; UNDP, 2012).
One major challenge that is hindering the progress of Higher Education Sector is less number of male students and increasing dropout rate of students at secondary education level (ElGahnem, 2012). The declining number of male students in higher education is because of their responsibility of supporting their family and they easily get attracted to jobs that require fewer skills. Most of the students lack vision about their future studies and are reluctant to explore new areas of studies; recently, the demand of graduates in healthcare, research and technological fields has increased and each one offers attractive career opportunities for graduates who acquire education in these fields. In Qatar, there are less opportunities for students as institutions offering these programs are new ones and attracting students is a bit difficult for them (Khodr, 2011).
Initiatives taken for promoting Higher Education and Role of Overseas Universities
In order to help students in gaining access to top ranked universities, public and private organizations are taking huge measures. All concerned authorities are working together to tackle challenges being faced by Higher Education sector so that they can provide right guidance to future workforce of the country (Sawahel, 2012). Qatar's government has observed that students are unable to get qualified for admissions in leading universities because they lack the skills and intellectual capabilities as education system of country does not match the standards set by international bodies. Qatar National Vision 2030 has been launched in November 2008 with the aim of providing support to education system of the country. In the report, all initiatives that have been taken and those that will be implemented are provided with complete details (UNDP, 2012).
The foremost initiative taken is development of Supreme Education Council which is responsible for designing and implementation of policies for promotion education at all levels especially higher education so that workforce is compatible to meet demands of country's economy. Secondly, social mediums are being used by Qatar Foundation and Ministry of Education to create awareness about various career opportunities existing for the students along with attracting students to get enrolled in such programs. Incentives are being offered to students so that they are encouraged to acquire higher education such as study abroad on scholarship and getting enrolled in part-time education program along with work (Khodr, 2011).
In order to provide directions related to vocational and technical education to students who cannot meet university's admission criteria, they are offered the opportunity of getting enrolled in Diploma courses being offered by Qatar Foundation and other government institutions so that they have required set of skills to perform their jobs. One more area of concern that is being addressed to create knowledge-based economy is encouraging students to acquire degrees in mathematics and science field and for that educational systems have been reformed; the entire curriculum has been changed so that students are competent and use their intellectual capabilities while acquiring education (Sawahel, 2012).
Almost all the programs offered by Qatar University in its seven colleges are accredited with international universities and its graduates are being highly demanded by employers in foreign countries. Another positive development in the country is creation of Education City that comprises of campuses of International Universities from USA, UK, Canada and France that are providing assistance in developing good and highly skilled professionals. The research culture is being heavily promoted by Qatar University and universities of Education City which comprises of research institutions, partnerships on international levels and entrepreneurial development with focus on alignment of country needs to national development (Coughlan, 2012).
These overseas universities are important for every country's economic growth as they allow taking advantage of programs being offered by them that are of international standards. When foreign universities open their campuses in a country, it shows that respective country has an attractive workforce which when trained properly will be able to make valuable contribution in long run. It also gives signals to other countries that Qatar has a lot of human potential which when explored will help in unlocking various unexploited areas and it even attracts many Foreign Direct Investments in the country as it is viewed as a growing economy (ElGahnem, 2012).
Growing Trend of Research and Development
For every country that is willing to make progressive contribution in its economy has to ensure that it is investing appropriate amount of resources in Research and Development field. For instance, by development of Research Institutions, it will be able to identify areas that are hindering its performance globally and will be able to take remedial steps to boost its performance in long run. Likewise, in Qatar, many research institutes have been developed that are focusing on various areas of research such as physical and social sciences, humanities, arts, engineering and technology, healthcare, biomedical, multidisciplinary computing and etc.
Some of the leading Research Institutes are Qatar National Research Fund, Qatar Science and Technology Park (QSTP), Sidra Medical and Research Center, Qatar Computing Research Institute, Qatar Biomedical Research Institute, RAND-Qatar Policy Institute and many more (UNDP, 2012). QSTP has gained immense popularity because it's the central hub for innovation, entrepreneurship and applied research; it has collaboration with numerous research universities that are working towards creating intellectual property, new ventures funding, development of new products and enhancement of technology related management skills. Hence, Research institutions are among the most effective ways of promotion of higher education in Qatar.
Government Role in promoting Higher Education
According to UNDP (2012), more than 14% of 2011-2012 entire expenditure budget of government is allocated to youth and education welfare. In order to boost higher education sector, government is offering various scholarship programs and encouraging foreign universities to set up their campuses within the country. One major initiative taken by government is relaxation of FDI policies and taxation rate so that it can be an attractive place for investment. Besides that, it has even become partner in various international student exchange programs so that it can give students the opportunities of obtaining top quality educations from well-known universities. In some cases, government gives 100% concession to deserving students by bearing all their educational expenses. Some training institutions have been set up as well so that people who have acquired secondary education can earn Diploma courses from there and improve their chances of getting good jobs.