The Arab Academy for Science, Technology and Maritime Transport, Sharjah sets the new academic year in motion using blended learning
The first semester of the academic year 2020/2021 commenced today at the Khorfakkancampus of the Arab Academy for Science, Technology and Maritime Transport inSharjah (AASTS) using ‘blended learning,’ which combines both classroom lectures and distance learning. The movesupports the Academy’s strategy to empower the Arab maritime sector with academicallyand professionally qualified personnel.
AASTS continues to implement all precautionary measures to prevent the spreadof COVID-19. The academy has informed students about the new approach for theirtheoretical and practical learning and has held induction programmes for newstudents. Students and staff visiting the will be required to take COVID-19test and comply with all the measures and recommendations set by competentauthorities.
Dr. Ismail Abdel Ghaffar Ismail Farag, President ofthe Arab Academy for Science, Technology and Maritime Transport, said: “Since March 2020, higher education institutions around the worldhave been facing unprecedented challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We werekeen to continue the education process effectively and efficiently as part of ourcorporate social responsibility to protect the accomplishments made since thebeginning of the crisis. All efforts should be combined to contain and overcomethis crisis and support the sustainable development of all sectors. Since thebeginning, the UAE has showcased great professionalism while dealing with thiscrisis, with everyone doing his or her part. At the Arab Academy for Science,Technology and Maritime Transport in Sharjah, we have enhanced our smartlearning channels to ensure that our students receive the same quality of educationas our traditional education. We succeeded in implementing distance learning ina record period to enhance the safety of our students and faculty members, inline with the precautionary measures to prevent the spread of the Corona virus.”
Abdel Ghaffar added: “We have developed a plan to start the Fall semester for the 2020academic year, taking into account the guidelines of the Ministry of Educationand health authorities. The health and safety of our students, faculty andstaff is our top priority. Our plan focuses on blended learning through threealternatives: on-campus lectures where faculty members and students meet faceto face on campus in classrooms and dedicated labs; distance learning where thefaculty gives online lectures; and Blended Lectures that combine both on-campusand online lectures.”
A milestone in the national maritime sector
Yousif Yacoub Al Mansouri, Director, Office of theChairman for the Board of Trustees, AASTS, said: “Starting the first semester of the academic year 2020/20201 is amilestone in the Academy’s journey despite all the challenges we have faced.The college in Sharjah is the largest and most equipped so far, and is on a parwith the most prestigious maritime and academic institutions in the world. We will continue our journey towards achieving the Academy’svision and strategic objectives. The Academy will always be a source to provideacademically-qualified professionals from among the UAE citizens and citizensof neighbouring countries, to meet the growing demand for nationalprofessionals in this vital sector, which is key to the region’s economy andmaritime security. The Academy also enhances the environment for investment inthe maritime sector in the region by providing continuous training for maritimecompanies’ staff and enabling academic partnerships with the maritime sectorthrough specialised professionals. This will promote the Arab maritime economy asit will be supplied with advanced research and development capabilities.”
Al Mansouri added: “AASTS’ Sharjah branch provides unlimited opportunities forstudents looking for an education that guarantees them jobs in specialisationsneeded in the market after their graduation. They will get the highest salariescompared to other disciplines. Despite the factthat the Sharjah branch is relatively new, we were impressed by the exceptionalturnout of students who registered at the Academy. This coincided with thelaunch of our website (www.aasts.ac.ae).Its unique design and smart services enable students to directly register and communicatewith the Academy. The website is compatible with all devices such as computers,laptops and mobile phones.”
Out of hundreds of applicants, 50 students have been acceptedat the Academy after passing the English language placement test and medicalfitness tests. This brings the total number of students at the Academy to 170.
According to Dr. Ahmed Youssef, Associate Dean of theMaritime Transport and Technology College, AASTS, this is a reasonablenumber and is close to the target. Dr Youssef added, “The turnoutof female students who enrolled in the Academy was remarkable. 20 femalestudents have been accepted for the new academic year, bringing the totalnumber of female students to 61. This is an indication of empowering Emiratiwomen in the national maritime sector. Women work alongside men in building keyeconomic and developmental capabilities in the region.”
The College of Maritime Transport and Technology currently offers two specialisations: Maritime TransportTechnology, which has two disciplines; Port Operations and Offshore Operations.Graduates receive a bachelor's degree and certificate of a second officer. Thesecond main specialisation is Marine Engineering. Graduates receive abachelor's degree in Maritime Technology in addition to a third marine engineercertificate. Both disciplines qualify graduates to work on commercial andsupply ships as well as petroleum service vessels. Graduates gain the necessaryexperience to work in all maritime organisations.
Youssef added: “AASTS seeksto attract professionals working in maritime organisations in the UAE who wishto attend specialised training courses as part of the Academy’s professionaldevelopment and continuous educational programmes. It also provides maritimepassport renewal services for maritime officers, engineers, and seafarers.AASTS also cooperates with the training departments of maritime companies todesign specialised training programmes in various maritime, technical andadministrative disciplines, benefitting from the Academy’s state-of-the-artsimulators.”
Beyond academic excellence
Commenting on the academic environment at the college and theadded value for students, Youssef said, “The Academy’s managementrealises that working in the maritime sector requires certain competencies.That’s why, we have designed a number of virtual activities alongside the academicprogrammes. This aims to make study and learning at the Academy a journey tobuild personality and give students incentives to excel and be creative. Thisextends beyond the limits of the typical study relationship with the Academy. Activitiesinclude virtual seminars with the government and private maritime sector, inaddition to planned sports, recreational and art activities post the COVID-19pandemic. These activities refine students’ personalities, develop their lifeexperiences, and make their study years at the Academy useful for their careersas well as their personal and leadership capabilities.”