On 4th and 5th of October 2017, a delegation of representatives from GJU and two of its partner companies travelled to Abu Dis and Ramallah to exchange about the set-up of Dual Study programs at Al-Quds University (AQU).
Prof. Dr. Dorit Schumann (Vice President of GJU), Randolph Galla (GJU’s Dual Studies Advisor), Rula Milbes (Deputy GM of General Computers & Electronics - GCE) and Khaldoun Katouri (Operations Manager at MASAFAT) met AQU Rector Prof. Dr. Imad Abu Kishek, Vice Rector Prof. Dr. Hassan al-Dweik, Dual Studies Dean Prof. Salaheddin Odeh, the three academic coordinators of AQU’s Dual programs, as well as GIZ and GfA representatives Dr. Kirsten Freimann, Dr. Bärbel Stark, and Jamil Sufyan. The visit served to gather real-life information how Al-Quds University and the involved companies tackle a number of challenges, such as matching academic and practical content, marketing the programs, monitoring students’ performance in companies, as well as to inquire in which ways GIZ and GfA support the project.
AQU runs three fully operational Dual Bachelor programs (Business Administration, Electrical Engineering, IT) and has established a network of more than 100 partner companies. As the Dean for Graduate Studies, Prof. Salaheddin Odeh, explained, the roundabout 200 registered students shall by no means be used for “gap filling”, but have to be fully integrated in the work process of their sponsoring company and to conduct smaller projects independently or in teams.
Four dual AQU students reported that their experiences so far were excellent, and their expectations were fully met. When asked, all stressed that they would always choose to study in the dual mode again. Main motivations to apply to the Dual programs were the desire to experience a real business environment in combination with academic studies and to develop soft skills relevant to the job market. The good job perspectives where another convincing factor.
A “reality check” on the second day complemented the visit. Mahmoud Yassin, CEO of Experts Turnkey Solutions (a mid-sized IT company founded in 2011), informed, that in his company dual students attend a freshmen training course, where company rules are explained to them and where they are given one small task per day. From the second month on, they actively contribute to larger projects. The current dual student at Experts Turnkey Solutions developed a web application for a major Palestinian company already in his second practical term.
Imad Hindi, GM of National Beverage Company Coca-Cola/Cappy (started in 1989 with a first plant in Ramallah) explained that the company offers six places for dual students simultaneously. Selection of the dual students is based on short interviews and small tests. Dual students rotate between different departments, and, as Mr. Hindi stated, identify very much with the company.
The two representatives of GJU’s Jordanian partner companies intensely exchanged with their colleagues about the experiences the two Palestinian companies made so far. Both Ms. Milbes from GCE and Mr. Katouri from MASAFAT were very impressed by the degree of motivation the dual students displayed, and the seriousness and dedication with which the companies and AQU manage the dual programs.
Summing up, a lot of valuable information about the implementation and day-to-day execution of the dual programs could be gathered, which will help to enhance the establishment of Dual Study programs at GJU and strengthen links between AQU and GJU. Other cooperation possibilities were discussed as well, and partners agreed to draft a MoU between both universities soon.