Oman issues guidelines for first semester of academic year 2020/2021

Muscat: Popular Arabic publication Atheer in Oman reported about the ministerial decision issued by the Minister of Higher Education, Scientific Research and Innovation, Rahma Al Mahrouqi regarding the organisation of work in private higher education institutions for the first semester of 2020/2021.

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As per the report, the decision stipulated in its first article that the private higher education institutions shall organise work during the first semester of the academic year 2020/2021, based on the key factors that include, working with the blended learning system, with educational institutions determining the cases that require students to attend the university campus.

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Priority of attending the institutions shall be given to the following groups: foundation programme students, first semester students, students of programmes whose study plans include practical applications, students expected to graduate as well as students whose circumstances prevent the desired benefit from the distance learning system for any reason that the educational institution appreciates, such as students with disabilities, students who are academically struggling or others.

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The article also stipulates that the educational institutions are obligated to provide an appropriate and safe healthy environment for students and their staff in accordance with the Ministry guidelines in this regard, to curb the spread of COVID-19.

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Furthermore, it states that the educational institutions must determine the courses that can be offered through e-learning and the courses that require class attendance after appropriate evaluation. The institutions may mix e-learning (distance) and face-to-face classroom learning in the courses that combine theoretical and practical components. But these need to be approved by the specialised academic councils and are in accordance with the processes followed by specific institutions.

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Among other salient points in the article, institutions must adapt the current teaching and evaluation methods that conform to the blended learning system and are in line with international standards. Educational institutions are committed to developing the technical infrastructure for e-learning on an ongoing basis.

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This will include enriching the electronic content for all academic courses that will ensure students’ academic achievements as targeted. The electronic content of the academic courses must include a mixture of simultaneous and asynchronous (online and recorded) lectures and the institutions must specify the appropriate mechanisms to ensure interaction of students in these lectures and their commitment to attend them on time.

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