Diversity of Doctorate education in the UAE: Impact on education Leadership in the UAE
As a revelation for the Middle East countries, the UAE is still in the process of improving and growing its higher education systems. Through the introduction of Doctorate Education (DE) programs, the UAE has succeeded in attracting individuals from the top-notch universities and colleges, both from the region and across the globe. Currently, the UAE’s Doctorate Education programs range from scientific to creative arts, and those individuals seeking to obtain advance knowledge in research and education find the UAE to be the best destination in the Middle East. The UAE is known to provide an exotic and highly dynamic environment that enhances the level of competition among students and educators (Ibrahim & Al-Taneiji, 2012). For example, the challenging experience students have with the state-of-the-art facilities means that students must be able to choose appropriately an area of interest, and direct all their efforts towards achieving the outlined career goals. For an individual to be awarded PhD UAE degrees, there is a need to direct an originally compiled research alongside completing a doctoral dissertation in a given topic of investigation. Some of the common areas open for doctoral studies include science subjects; technology and biotechnology; social sciences like economic; business studies; and engineering. Most of these studies take a minimum of four years, but this also depends on the field of study.
Even though the UAE government has accomplished a great deal of its doctorate education programs, the country has not been able to establish a sound foundation for its diversification programs. One major challenge as far as education diversification is concerned is the inability to fully finance higher education and doctorate programs to make the system free for poor citizens, inability to provide education access for all Emiratis, and policy interventions that focus on moving the country’s economy forward while neglecting other important sectors like education (Ibrahim & Al-Taneiji, 2012). However, the current education policies and the need to establish more diverse doctorate programs in the UAE higher learning institutions have triggered specific developments like building of more public training facilities. Other developments are establishing quality facilities; providing higher quality doctorate programs; admitting more Emiratis in different graduate and doctorate programs; giving scholarship to poor members of the society; expanding campuses and other learning institutions; and competing for regional and international education reputation.
Current state of doctorate education in UAE
Apart from the areas mentioned, the UAE’s current state of education system is the proposed response to the growing demand for educational opportunity and the endless needs for quality programs. In other words, the country’s growing demand for educational opportunity, especially in doctorate program defines the trends and the likely impacts on the performance of learning institutions both in the near term and long term. The country’s doctorate educational policy retains around two important pillar; improved opportunity in areas of decision-making and quality performance in different fields. Based on these two pillars, the UAE’s educational foundation policy aims at assuring students opportunity for higher learning, particularly for the qualified graduate students. Today, the country is working on a platform to provide free education for all the qualified Emiratis at the university and subsidiary colleges.
Studies have shown close interplay between doctorate enrolment growth, student funding and quality education in accordance with the regional and international educational policies. As already mentioned, the UAE universities and other learning institutions are currently facing growing differentials between the available resources and the facilities required to meet the growing needs for quality education. In areas of educational leadership, the country’s growing demand for quality education will equip doctorate graduates with the knowledge and various skills needed to fit in the emerging global economy. However, the country is currently facing challenges with its financing programs for educational facilities and program, meaning that there is decline in quality of doctorate education contrary to the country’s expectation. The diagram below shows that the decline in the UAE doctorate education systems is caused by the widening gap between the country actual funding and the real support required to enhance provision of quality education. Otherwise, the growing enrolment in doctorate education is putting additional pressure on the government and stakeholders to expand institution’s capacities to facilitate the enrolments alongside maintaining academic quality.
Source: Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research http://planipolis.iiep.unesco.org/upload/United%20Arab%20Emirates/United%20Arab%20Emirates_Higher_Education_plan.pdf
The implications of the above diagram are clearly described by the three lines showing current doctorate enrolment; decline in doctorate enrolment and; growth in doctorate enrolment. From the diagram, we are brought to the understanding of the strong relationship between doctorate enrolment capacity, growth in levels funding and future growth in doctorate enrolment. The diagram shows that if the country cannot put additional funding in doctorate education, then there is need for institutions to limit current enrolment for the purposes of protecting long-term quality doctorate education. The diagram also indicates that any additional growth in doctorate educational enrolment will add to the educational deficit, and this will mean that the quality of education offered to students will decline steadily. The mentioned observations in the doctorate education in UAE are making higher learning institutions to provide options that are at times considered retrogressive and not acceptable in higher education. Some of the actions taken by institutions in response to these challenges include accommodating growth while sacrificing educational quality; an action considered to short-change the career objectives of doctorate students. Similarly, institutions can be forced to reduce the number of doctorate enrolment in order to match institutional capacity, but this action is known to deny Emiratis students full access to higher education and other career opportunities. Following the discussions presented in this section and the growing demand for doctorate education in UAE, there are higher possibilities that the enrolment pressure with intensify within the next 10 years and by 2025, there will be substantial impact on UAE doctorate education.
The expected outcomes in Doctorate studies
The 2013 report by the World Economic Forum for Global Competitiveness indicated that by the end of 2025, UAE would be the leader among the Gulf countries in areas of economic competitiveness; a condition triggered by advanced learning and improving doctorate programs. During the 2014 economic forum, it was stated that the improving educational conditions in UAE observes some of the major factors for growth and improved global educational competitiveness. This means that the country’s doctorate education, despite the common challenges, is expected to improve, expand and accommodate the growing population and demands for higher quality education. The numerous theoretical and applied researches predict instances of grow in doctorate education, but this will only take place if the country together with its policy makers incorporate effective training for appropriate educational leadership (Ibrahim & Al-Taneiji, 2012). In other words, there are expectations that the country’s doctorate education will strengthen and become more diversified in ways that promote and support the country’s economic and social decisions. There is also an understanding that if the country’s doctorate education cannot meet the growing demands for quality training in areas of leadership, the country may suffer poor economic outcomes. However, the current growth in systems of education and the continuous number of students demanding higher educational programs predict a future growth in Emiratis participation within different fields of management.
The UAE Office of Higher Education Policy and Planning predicted a dramatic increase in the number of students that could demand doctorate degree in different learning institutions. This increase in demand for doctorate degree is based on the tidal wave of new students enrolling for graduate degree programs and college education programs. According to the graph below, the government of UAE anticipates a rise in students’ enrolment for doctorate degree beginning 2016. The huge number of students to be enrolled for different PhD programs is expected to occur for the next seven years as shown in the figure below. With the predicted outcomes, it important for government officials and policy makers to make decisions with profound positive impact on the capacity of higher education systems.
|Next 5 Years|
|Next 7 Years|
|After 10 Years|
|Figure 2: Projection of Doctorate Enrolment in UAE|
Source: Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research http://planipolis.iiep.unesco.org/upload/United%20Arab%20Emirates/United%20Arab%20Emirates_Higher_Education_plan.pdf
How Doctorate education impacts education leadership in UAE
Form the perspectives of education leadership in UAE, doctorate education programs are designed to ensure growth and improved outcomes in areas of management and policy development. The doctorate education programs as provided by higher learning institutions in UAE equip learners with diverse and more effective leadership skills that add up to improved analytical and research skills (Litz, 2014). With the objectives of developing a new generation of social justice leaders, higher institutions offering doctorate programs have formed collaborations to find evidence-solutions to the many challenges facing the country’s K-12 system of education. This also adds to the value created through the development of community-oriented and culturally competed education leaders who are able to contribute through new ideas and optimize in areas of decision-making.
With the objectives of majoring education leadership, most institutions in the UAE today engages extensively in proving competitive doctoral programs that are sellable across international markets (Litz, 2014). This means that successful completion of these programs improve students’ reputations, making them more competitive in different areas of management. The understanding of the impacts of doctoral education on education leadership in UAE is, therefore, based on the fact that the program consolidates students’ as rational decision-makers with the concerns to improve community satisfaction. This means that even though the programs offered under doctoral education are locked within the grip of institutional bureaucracies, there is still need to improve the quality of education offered to students. Education that corresponds to international standards holds important aspects that will allow learners and future education leaders to stay in the market for a longer period and remain competitive in different sectors, both private and public.
Doctorate education also have impacts on UAE students since it allows education leaders to engage in continuous professional learning alongside engaging in issues or ideas that will have positive impacts in their leadership roles. In this line of discussion, doctorate education is known to produces leaders that can fit at different executive leaves and senior managers capable of developing a foothold for the career ladder. This means introducing new and useful knowledge that can add value to the current executive levels of management in the field of education. Just like other groups of workers or managers, doctorate education introduces education leaders to the symbolic roles of an analytical manager. The main concept that links education leaders to continuous professional development is the goal directed to improve the skills of a social worker.
Specific to the impact of doctorate education on education leadership, data from the student surveys indicated that students graduating from doctorate studies are able to apply research-based skills in professional practice alongside maintain higher professional growth and integration in the respective fields of study. As far as research-based knowledge is concerned, it becomes noticeable that students graduating from doctorate education recognize the role of technology and new innovations in areas decision-making, are able to facilitate the dissemination of both formal and informal knowledge, and give priority to evidence-based decisions (Ibrahim & Al-Taneiji, 2012). Correspondingly, education leaders today are able to use new technologies in their teaching, and this is because these individuals are highly exposed to new technologies during the pedagogical training in doctorate education programs. Various studies conducted in this line of investigation have shown that most education leaders today try to implement some of the things they learnt at their doctorate levels to improve situations in their respective areas of management. Therefore, the increasing use of technology in education leadership in UAE is a reflection of how these technologies were used by the faculty to facilitate learning and researcher at different levels of learning. Currently, most education leaders in the UAE emphasize on the innovative use of technologies to improve in areas of research and also to access some of the available literature. In various instances, we have seen educational leaders focus on learning management system used at doctorate levels to the extent of implementing similar management systems in their respective schools or districts. For instance, we are introduces to cases where schools leaders decide to introduce social media in their respective school to facilitate communication among teachers and other members of staff. Similarly, high school teachers and leaders establish online community as interactive platforms the bridge the distance between parents, students and teachers (Ibrahim & Al-Taneiji, 2012). Simply put, the knowledge acquired at doctorate levels of studies allow education leaders and teachers to change their approach when it comes to the use of technology to facilitate communication and program design.
Apart from being able to establish an IT supported communication platform, studies have shown that doctorate education contributes in areas of decision-making for education leaders. With the exposure to more resent research techniques and articles during doctorate studies, educational leaders adopt new data-driven approaches to decision-making. Educational leaders in UAE have established new and efficient evaluation methods within their institutions since such evaluation methods are known to increase confidence for positive discussions and appropriate decisions. Similarly, the knowledge and skilled gained during doctorate education makes it possible for education leaders to disseminate formal and informal knowledge in their areas of management. For instance, teachers find the opportunity to implement professional development skills and make presentations to enhance teaching and process adoption. One good example is where an education leader is able to develop a blended learning program for the UAE’s educational program to facilitate learning and allow students acquire practical skills in different career fields.
As far as professional growth and process integration is concerned, the application of leadership knowledge acquired from doctorate studies in most cases result from the confidence vested in the students during their research and field work activities. With this level of confidence, the educational leaders are able to demonstrate visible professional growth, which accounts for the integration of technology into the field of education, and contributing immensely to both professional and institutional development (Litz, 2014). Studies relating to the UAE educational programs indicate that doctorate education focus on two important themes; curriculum development and professional growth. The two theme if incorporated by education leaders in different fields of studies will create opportunity for (1) new involvement, especially in the field of educational technology and (2) positive leadership changes through improved professional roles.
When it comes to engaging leaders in the field of educational research, it is necessary to recognize the facts that doctorate students getting involved in educational technology usually come from different areas of studies or professional backgrounds. The incorporation of educational technology within the fields of study is considered crucial for the doctorate students because it impacts on areas of professional development. It enhances individuals’ understanding about the roles and responsibilities of education leaders, initiates the development of the mind and habit of a professional teachers and leader, and improves individual’s ability to leverage resources while establishing a network to understand how change can be effected within the organization in ways that do not interfere with the performance of the institution. Having good knowledge about the importance of educational technology, particularly when it comes to managing teachers, students and other groups of professionals enhance leadership roles since there is effectiveness created in all the systems of management (Litz, 2014). Other than becoming members of specific discipline organizations, doctorate programs allow education leaders to form educational technology professional organizations so that the experts in different fields of education can interact and share on new management or leadership skills. For instances, an instructional designers may be able to interact with experts from other areas of profession and through discussions, there will be impact created to ensure proper management, staff and students engagements.
In line with changing professional roles, it is clear that through doctorate education in UAE, educational leaders gain insights on the best ways to increase knowledge and confidence. With higher levels of confidence and knowledge, education leaders in UAE today find it possible to propose solutions and present their opinions during educational meetings. The king of leadership training given to doctorate graduates means that every 10 graduate out of 15 are able to take leadership roles in their specific institutions within the first few years of teaching or management. Some of the evidences that support teachers’ ability to participant effectively in decision-making include the increased involvement in communication with members of the school board to allow for the incorporations of more currents technologies in their systems of management alongside making it possible for technology professional development. After acquiring doctorate education, high school principals find it possible to assume the roles of technical advisors, become an active member of the school board, and join the district education advisory committee and be able to determine most of the decisions affect school functions.
Apart from the areas mentioned, we are introduced to instances where education leaders in UAE join other groups of professionals to work for social justice, inclusion, and opposing social segregation by age, gender, class and, special educational needs. From the studies conducted, we have come across instances where education leaders articulate their ability to exercise agency with the focus on neo-liberalism. Through the leadership skills obtained at higher levels of learning, education leaders in UAE are able to describe market forces or demand and supply, particular in the field of education alongside predicting the opportunities available for new graduate teachers (Ibrahim & Al-Taneiji, 2012). For example, education leaders in UAE fight for the inclusion of adult education and other opportunities for economic justice. With such actions, there are higher possibilities that the labor market will be expanded enough to accommodate new graduates. Similarly, the education leaders through their doctorate knowledge fight towards ensuring the country focuses on healthy construction of social identities alongside providing chances for cultural justice. Through fair treatment in different field of profession, it would be possible to the teachers to increase their classroom work and allow for classroom progress. Education leaders are also working towards promoting the use of ICT infrastructure for ensuring associational justice.
Similarly, doctorate education allows education leaders to create a balance and potential well-being. This is because the skills and knowledge acquired can be used in the management of minorities and marginalized members of the society. The leaders operate according to the perception that education is a public good meant to improve people’s well-being and bridge the social gaps among members of the society. By integrating the leadership skills and with knowledge about classroom management, leaders work towards realizing equality in education and creating an environment that facilitate inclusive learning.
However, it is noticeable that the UAE law demands that educational leaders must work within structure that spells key principles, and their demand for social justice may be constrained by such structures. Based on the limiting educational principles and structure, educational leaders should be supported through appropriate policies that will ensure that the quest for social justice is achieved (Litz, 2014). For example, policy intervention and ability to recognize skill diversity among students will help education leaders to identify knowledge gaps among students so that the support given will allow for equal distribution of knowledge. Educational leaders in their investigations have noted that some of the students who may not be able to perform well in high-stake tests end up becoming successful in vocational areas. This means that the call by education leaders to develop educational policies that balances curriculum with social activities is valid. In other words, educational policies should address educational structures with the sole purpose of allowing students to participate in both social functions and in areas of their academic.
Survey for the literature review
The UAE doctorate education plan and policies developed to understand the needs of Emiratis are based on specific studies focusing on the importance of education on the country’s economic and social development (Litz, 2014). Two important surveys have been conducted in relation to the educational interests of the Emiratis including the Graduate Studies Survey (GSS) and the Graduate Alumni Survey (GAS). Other than providing demographic information, respondents were required to include in the surveys questions relating to employment status and perceptions about aspects of doctorate studies and experiences. The GSS included elements like students demographics with the incorporation of other components like gender, age, citizenship, dependents and marital status. Similarly, the GSS included details about program information such as degree programs, individual enrolment status, the expected time of completion, teaching assistant and available opportunities for research assistants; program quality; career preparation; after graduation plans and; learning outcomes for graduates (Litz, 2014). During the GSS, the student respondents were also allowed to give their views concerning the available opportunities inform of written comments. The second type of survey, the GAS, took into consideration questions focusing on areas such as demographics; information about the programs offered; individuals’ career paths; continuous professional development and; quality and impact of doctorate education in areas of educational leadership. Just like the GSS, the GAS survey also gave the respondents opportunity to give their opinions about the current programs and impacts on the country’s education system, which the respondent presented in forms of written comments.
Both the GSS and GAS were distributed to the respondents electronically through email invitation with one of the requirement being that all the surveys had to be completed online and submitted back. The completed surveys were stored in the web server for easy access by individuals in their graduate and postdoctoral studies. The respondents were also required to conceal their identity and this meant that they had to be assigned specific codes to maintain anonymity during the survey. The two surveys could only be accessed and submitted back through the email invitation link and this was important because it ensured that only responses from the selected participants were considered for analysis. Data from the two surveys were analyzed and summaries presented to understand the impact of doctorate education on educational leaders. During the analysis, it was repeatedly mentioned that the main purpose of the survey was to initiate a process in UAE that will allow for collection of sufficient data on doctoral outcomes and impacts on education performance (Litz, 2014). This means that the analysis process was directed towards identifying and understanding the methods of administration and appropriateness of doctoral studies in relation to education leadership. While the small number of completed GSS presented undistinguishable discipline, the results from the GAS indicated that aspects such as employments, leadership and policy development improve following improvements in higher education like doctoral studies.
From the surveys, it was noted that the K-12 Educational Administration in UAE offers various educational and professional programs. The sole purpose of doctorate educations according to the administrative body is to develop experienced leaders who have the potentials of improving critical leadership capacities. This objective is supported by the studies conducted in the K-12 educational leadership, which have shown government response to the country’s educational leadership through close collaboration with various community partners to improve institutional management (Litz, 2014). According to the literatures, education doctorate programs in the UAE are meant to develop educators and other groups of practitioners, especially those individuals with aspirations for improving own leadership practices. The main idea here is to impact on educational leadership by developing the capacities manage institutions and make decisions that have positive outcomes not only to the students, but also to the general community and different school districts. Educational leaders have the ability of intervening in community functions by making significant decisions known to contribute to student development. The doctorate education prepares individuals to take up education leadership in different education agencies both at the local and regional schools districts. Other than taking leadership roles, the doctorate programs in UAE are considered vital for various leaders of the community and educationally-related institutions.
Synthesis of literature review
In a study conducted to understand the role of school principals in the UAE, Al-Taneiji (2012, p. 153) found out that the major role of school leaders is to encourage parental engagement in school functions in order to improve the overall performance of students. The researcher indicated that doctorate studies equip school leaders with effective communication capabilities and through such skills they are able to involve parents in making decisions that affects school activities. Communication skills are among the concepts taught under doctorate education, and through proper application of these skills, school leaders find is possible to influence the roles of parents in ways that contribute to students development. Similarly, Al-Taneiji (2012, p.153) found out that leadership styles used by school principals will greatly affect parents’ decisions to take part in students’ upbringing. At doctorate levels, teachers engage in several activities some of which are meant to facilitate their functions as community leaders. This is because school leaders do not only control the behaviors of students while at school, but also ensures that students portray good behaviors while at home.
In a different study to determine the impact of transformational leaderships in the UAE educational system, Al-Taneiji (2006, p. 24) found out that transformational leadership in learning institutions improve the work relationship between school leaders, teachers and other staff members. In this study, Al-Taneiji (2006) was able to determine a close relationship between transformational leadership and school enquiry or mentorship. During the study, the researcher examined many leadership theories to understand how individual’s leadership characteristics can be improved to influence school performance. Some of the theories that featured include the contingency leadership theory, that transactional leadership theory and the transformational leadership theory (Al-Taneiji, 2006, p.21). However, the researcher stated that transformational leaderships is easily acquired by students during their doctorate programs and also find it easy to apply the knowledge acquired in practice. One of the most fascinating find by according to this study is most students in their doctorate studies learn the best ways to introduce change in an institution and work towards ensuring that such changes contribute positively towards institutional performance. Al-Taneiji (2006, p. 26) found out that through transformational leadership, educational leaders have the ability to influence other teachers and members of the staff to act in ways that support the implementation process of organizational change.
Other than the mentioning of the leadership skills acquired at different levels of education, it is importantly noted that institutional culture play significant roles in determining educators’ learning outcomes (Al-Taneiji, 2006, p.21). This is because institutional culture shapes the way teachers think of may act when faced with challenges. For doctorate programs, institutional cultures like norms, values, traditions and myths encourages by the school community affect the beliefs of educational leaders and roles they play to improve learning in different environments. Since institutional culture is known to support or hinder knowledge acquisition by training teachers, the means of communication and the methods through which knowledge is disseminated in UAE must change to be in line with regional methods (Al-Taneiji, 2006, p.21). This is one of the reasons why most institutions of higher learning in UAE adopt collegiality as vital tools that have positive impacts on professional development. In order to facilitate collegiality as a concept in school leadership development, universities aim at providing enough time and resources so that students can have opportunity to expand their leadership knowledge. According to this investigation, it is importantly noted that doctorate education affect education leadership by allowing leaders to establish work groups within and outside the school premises, specifying the roles of school leaders, helping teachers to reflect on their pedagogical practices, and engaging in both teachers and student mentorship programs. All these leadership skills are meant to improve the relationship between teachers and students so that the students can recognize the efforts of teachers throughout their learning activities.
Other studies have also shown that the knowledge acquired during doctorate studies allow educational leaders to influence workplace conditions in ways that promote professional development. For example, a survey conducted among thirty Emiratis elementary teachers indicated that by offering opportunity for professional development, teachers might have the opportunity to participate in decisions that affect school activities like creating policies that allow for social and educational changes in the school. Similarly, educational leader inculcate a culture that may promote collaboration within the school environment while at the same time involving other teachers in decision-making processes. Leaders are known to motivate workers for positive outcomes and this means that the motivational skills acquired by educational leaders during doctorate studies allow them to intervene through various motivational approaches so that teachers can work harder to improve in their subject areas and make the school achieve both its long-term and short-term goals (Di Vincenzo, 2008). Just like any other groups of employees, teachers require leaders who have the potency of influencing performance from their workers. At the same time, education leaders must be able to take into consideration the feelings, attitudes and views of teachers so that there is support given to eliminate negative feelings and attitudes. Otherwise stated, collaboration between teachers and educational leaders with allow for effective time planning alongside reflecting on the designed practices and resources that will improve educational performances.
In general, the rising demand for doctorate education is based on the understanding that the UAE educational system has revolved to match the required global educational standards with a focus on leadership skills in different areas of management. The UAE Office of Higher Education Policy and Planning indicated that the increasing number of students demanding for doctorate education, majorly from other countries, is because of the changes in the country’s educational systems and policies, and the numerous opportunities available for doctorate graduates.
Al-Taneiji, S. (2006). Transformational leadership and teacher learning in model schools. Journal of Faculty of Education UAEU, 23(6), 21-36.
Al-Taneiji, S. (2012). The Role of Leadership in Engaging Parents in United Arab Emirate Schools. International Education Studies, 6(1), p153.
Di Vincenzo, R. J. (2008). School leadership and its relation to school performance. Doctoral dissertation: University of Phoenix.
Ibrahim, A., & Al-Taneiji, S. (2012). Principal leadership style, school performance, and principal effectiveness in Dubai schools. International Journal of Research Studies in Education, 2(1).
Litz, D. (2014). Perceptions of School Leadership in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). <Accessed> http://theses.ucalgary.ca/handle/11023/1394