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Wednesday, April 4th, 2012

Volume 11, Issue 13; April 4, 2012


A first for Saudi women engineers.


Resort of University? How about both!


Publish or Plagiarize? An Indonesian dilemma.


Make the most of your pre-travel doc trips.

1) THE PLAYING FIELD – A first for Saudi women engineers.

The Faculty of Engineering at the Jeddah-based King Abdulaziz University is one of Saudi Arabia’s oldest engineering colleges. Since its establishment in 1975, roughly 9,000 engineers have graduated from its programs. But up till now, not one woman. That is about to change. KAU recently announced its plans to start the Kingdom’s first public sector engineering college specifically for women.

In a country often criticized for its strict laws involving women, the establishment of this program is a unique step – led by the faculty’s dean, Abdulmalik bin Ali Aljinaidi.

“[While] engineering subject for girls are taught in the private sector institutions such as Effat University and Dar Al-Hekma College,” Aljinaidi explained, “KAU will be the first public university to have an engineering college for girls in the Kingdom.”

A graduate of KAU’s engineering faculty himself, Aljinaidi has great ambitions to make his college a world-class institution, and aims to do so by ensuring progress and “add[ing] value to the system” currently in place. In a recent interview for Arab News, the dean spoke about the new program – part of his overall plan to achieve world-class reputation.

Explaining that, even at international levels, few women choose to study in such areas as mining, civil and/or mechanical engineering, Aljinaidi said the college will start by introducing the disciplines currently more popular among female students, and more conducive to the “working environment.”

“The college will be launched in September 2012, offering courses in computer and biomedical engineering, two courses in high demand,” he explained. “In the first year we’ll focus on Saudi girls and … once we see the system is running smoothly, we can open the college to expatriates.”

Source: “Saudi-KAU to start engineering college for women”. Financial and Business News – MENAFN, March 22, 2012.

2) ABROAD PERSPECTIVES – Resort or University? How about both!

Sandals Resorts International – a company operating throughout the Caribbean – has announced its launch of a brand new corporate university, aimed at strengthening human capital and furthering employment opportunities within the region.

Joining the ranks of McDonald’s and Boeing – other corporations to introduce similar programs – Sandals’ executives feel that through providing the company’s 10,000 workers with access to university-level educations, they are acting on their overall “philosophy to customer service”.

“The idea is to make it easy for self development,” explained Sandals’ chairman, Gordon Stewart, during the program’s recent launch in Jamaica’s Montego Bay. “A chain begins in which value is created for individuals. With the world the way it is, tourism has to deliver like it never has before.”

The program is certainly a first for the Caribbean, and possibly, a sign of things to come for the global hospitality industry as a whole. With the partnership of various internationally recognized institutions, including Ryerson University in Toronto, all 14 Sandals resorts will soon essentially become classrooms through the program, offering accredited degrees and extensive training in such areas as cost control, finance, and event planning. In the first year alone, 2,500 Sandals workers are expected to go through the program, and about $5 million will be spent to develop the initiative over the next five years.

According to the company, the partnership with Ryerson is such that candidates can eventually pursue masters and even doctoral degrees, and similar arrangements have been made with Florida International University and the Western Hospitality Institute in Jamaica, which will allow students to obtain associate and bachelor’s degrees. Other organizations are also on board to help provide high school equivalency to any employees who may require it.

Admitting long-standing challenges in keeping employees satisfied and motivated, Sandals CEO Adam Stewart shared his hopes that the program will encourage individuals to aspire for higher positions within the company. And by streamlining the logistics, time and costs involved with providing employees with higher education, the company hopes to not only add value to the Sandals brand, but also help bolster the local economies in the region. Particularly during these difficult economic times, the CEO explained, regional integration is a goal more corporations should strive for.

Source: “Sandals invest millions in corporate university”. The Nassau Guardian, March 22, 2012.

3) OVER THE COUNTER – Publish or Plagiarize? An Indonesian dilemma.

In January, Indonesia’s Directorate General of Higher Education, Ditjen Dikti, made a decision. Through a circular, Ditkti announced that, in order for students to graduate from an Indonesian university – at either the undergraduate or postgraduate level – they must first be published in an academic journal.

With the country lagging far behind many others in terms of academic publication (including regional competitors such as Malaysia), the reasons behind the decision are basic enough – to increase the number of Indonesian academic publications. But as students begin to worry about having to spend extra time (and school fees) in order to meet the new requirement, critics of the plan remain unconvinced that the risks are in fact worth the potential benefits. Even the country’s Education and Culture Minister, Mohammad Nuh, has spoken out about the potential negative impacts of the policy – specifically stating that it may create more pressure for academic fraud (ie: plagiarism) to occur.

Director of the Yogyakarta-based Center for Forensic Accounting Studies at the Islamic University of Indonesia, Hendi Yogi Prabowo, shares the minister’s concerns. In a recent article for The Jakarta Post, Prabowo discussed the possible pitfalls of the plan, outlining in particular studies done to identify patterns of fraud occurring at other universities around the world.

“An interesting finding from the studies is that in countries where fraud is commonplace,” he wrote, “the tendency for students in such countries to cheat is higher than in other less fraudulent countries.”

With Indonesia scoring only three out of 10 on Transparency International’s recent Corruption Perception Index survey, it is labeled as the most corrupt country in the Asia-Pacific region by the Hong Kong-based Political & Economic Risk Consultancy. Prabowo pointed out that if these findings are true, Indonesia certainly qualifies as a ripe breeding ground for increased levels of academic fraud. Which could, he continued, lead to more negative outcomes in future.

“Evidence suggests,” Prabowo explained, “that the more university students observe fraudulent conduct in their environment, the more they will be able to rationalize their own misconduct. Studies have also found that students who cheated were more likely to cheat in their professional careers later on. Simply put, “fraud creates fraud” and “fraudsters create fraudsters”.”

The only solution, according to Prabowo? To put in place “a sound mechanism to diminish the opportunities to commit academic fraud, along with strong sanctions against offenders”. By making cheating severely punishable, he believes there will be a stronger perception among students that cheating is “wrong”. Without such a policy, he says the new requirement for academic publication will only add more problems to the nation’s higher education system.

Source: “More publication or more fraud?” The Jakarta Post, March 9, 2012.

4) GLOBE TIPPING – Make the most of your pre-travel doc trips.

It’s always a good idea to see a doctor before you travel – especially if you’re going to countries known to be “challenging” to good health. But rather than spending just the minimum amount of “vaccination” time, here are ten things you should be sure to ask (and listen to the answers of) during any pre-travel appointment.

Information to give your doctor:

1. Where are you going, precisely. Often, recommended shots and health warnings vary not only by country, but also by regions within the same country, as well as urban versus rural settings.
2. What will you be doing at the destination? Advice needs to be customized based on the types of accommodation you’ll be staying in, and whether you’ll be vacationing, attending a conference, or working on a local project in the country. Any clinic that tells you there’s a ‘standard vaccination package’ for your destination, walk out the door.
3. How is your health? Any practitioner should ask detailed questions about your health, including any allergies you have, medications you’re on, surgeries, etc.
4. What other destinations do you plan to visit in the foreseeable future? By giving this information, your doctor is able to tailor your vaccination schedule and give advice beyond just the one trip. It might even save you another trip to the clinic in future.
5. Are you aware of all the health risks at your destination? Beyond just the illnesses to be vaccinated against, any travel doctor should also detail the other health risks present at your destination (dengue fever, for example, and waterborne illnesses), and provide information on how to protect yourself from illness during your travels.

What you should ask the doctor:

1. What will these vaccinations prevent? This may sound standard, but be sure to ask this information.
2. How effective is it? Vaccines don’t always guarantee immunity. The typhoid shot, for example, is only about 70% effective. So always know how much protection any shots offer.
3. What is the risk of infection? The chances of becoming ill vary greatly depending on where and how long your travel. The more you understand the risks involved, the better.
4. What are the possible consequences of not having a vaccination? Many illnesses can be avoided by simply watching what you eat and drink, being careful of your sexual conduct, and avoiding local medical procedures. If you do choose not to be vaccinated for something, just be sure to find out how to minimize your risks.
5. How much will it cost? Charges can vary widely from clinic to clinic, and travel-related visits aren’t covered by most insurance policies. Always ask for the costs per item, and compare prices before making your appointments in order to avoid unpleasant surprises later on.

Source: “The Informer: Speak Up (and Listen)!” Expert Travel Tips: Conde Nast Traveler, June 2011.


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