Titled, ‘Attracting International Students to Private Higher Education Institutions...Challenges and Opportunities’, the workshop was held under the patronage of Dr Said bin Hamad al Rubaie, secretary general of the Education Council.
Speaking to Muscat Daily, Dr Rubaie said, “Today’s workshop aimed to show the challenges and opportunities facing private higher education institutions in attracting more international students. There are many factors that attract students to Oman such as security, stability, geographical location and the quality of education offered.
“The workshop will issue some recommendations which will be worked on, in tandem with the concerned authorities.” Dr Saif bin Humaid al Shamli, director of the Department of Studies and Research at MoHE presented a working paper showing the statistical indicators of international students studying in private higher education institutions.
“In 2011-12, Oman had 500 foreign students. There has been a gradual annual growth since then and the number reached 622 in 2016-17, with foreign students comprising 3.7 per cent of the total. UAE is on top with 34 per cent followed by Saudi Arabia with 12 per cent and Bahrain with nine per cent.” Hamad bin Sulaiman al Azri, director of International Students’ Office at Nizwa University presented a paper titled, ‘International Students in Private Higher Education Institutions: Challenges and Proposed Solutions’.
He also spoke about the challenges at present that need to be addressed, such as student visas, support services and academic accreditation. Abdul Rahman Ahmed, an international student expressed the problems he faces.
“Oman lacks private transportation options for students. There is also no accommodation facility for male students in private university campus. Foreign students cannot get part-time jobs and have no options for a health insurance too. I hope that these issues are solved, so that the sultanate can attract thousands of international students in the near future.”