The Head of School at AFG College with University of Aberdeen, Dr Gary Mulholland, answers some key questions for students considering higher level education in Qatar.
What advice would you give to someone thinking about going to University this year, or in the next few years?
I remember from my own experience as a young 18-year-old student, thinking about what I should do now?
My parents at the time had little knowledge of university as neither chose that route, nor did I have brothers or sisters who had been to university. I remember thinking: “Should I try something really challenging or should I choose to follow my family’s path?” I’m really pleased that I chose to follow my dream.
For me, and I believe all young people, there are important crossroads in life and choosing to go to university, or not, is one of them! My favourite quotation is: “Accept the challenge so you may feel the exhilaration of victory”, so going to a leading UK university did just that – gave me lots of challenges AND encouraged me to stretch my imagination and ambition.
If you want to be your best, to make a difference, to have an impact, and to leave your mark, you need to stretch yourself, whether at university or a more traditional route.
Will going to a university be the same in 20 years’ time?
That’s a great question, as I’ve just become a grandfather! I’m already thinking: “What will life be like for my granddaughter and will the world of education be the same for her?”
In the UK, Olivia (age 4 months) will receive a wonderful education, designed to produce an informed citizen with the ability to make independent choices by the age of adulthood (18years).
In 20 years, Olivia will be just where I was 40 years ago. For her, the crossroads will be just the same and just as confusing. Her choices and ways of learning may be completely different or even unrecognisable, but the difficulty of choosing which path to take will be just as challenging.
My belief is that whilst school education creates informed citizens, university education develops individuals with their own questions. Whatever happens over the next 20 years I know that Olivia and all her school friends will face the same dilemma as students today: Study more, and ask more questions, or start contributing to society immediately!
What will university life be like this year, as Qatar returns to the new normal?
This year I expect that life will start to return to normal, although managed sensitively to ensure learning is balanced with safety.
The use of technology to enable teaching during the harshest restrictions, worked well but our feedback from students and staff indicated that the ‘classroom’ discussions and debates are much more dynamic and open whilst students and teachers can share ideas interactively.
This year AFG College will deliver our lectures online at timetabled sessions using chatroom and quizzes to engage the students, but the real work of applying the concepts to problems, will take place in person, on campus, between students and their teaching staff.
Increasingly all teaching will return to campus, but I hope that the benefits of online materials and resources continue, as the ability to interact in more diverse ways has encouraged some of our students to play a more active part in the student experience.
What is the difference between courses at AFG College with University of Aberdeen? Some are just conventional Business subjects and others interdisciplinary.
All courses offered by AFG College are actual courses offered at University of Aberdeen. They are the same, with the same assessments and the same degree certificate.
Students can even graduate in Aberdeen with UK-based students! The conventional Business Courses are general ‘whole’ business approaches to learning about functional areas, e.g. Human Resources; Accounting; Leadership; marketing etc.
Or there are specialist courses such as Accountancy & Finance:
As Scottish University Degrees these are:
MA Business Management
MA Accountancy & Finance
This type of degree programme is an excellent preparation for general management. The interdisciplinary courses AFG offer include International Relations; Information Systems; and Legal Studies. Our new programmes are:
- Business Management with International Relations.
- Business Management with Information Systems
- Business Management with Legal Studies
These programmes are much more specific to sectors and particularly roles inside organisations, such as working in international business development; leading IT teams and IT development; or, contract working in legal firms.
These programmes are really important to graduates here in Qatar as they contribute to developing a globally facing local talent, not just a business ready student.
Who will be leading the teaching in AFG College with University of Aberdeen?
This partnership between AFG College and University of Aberdeen, is unique here in Qatar. AFG College has selected and appointed some of the best teaching staff available, anywhere in the world, and we combine this with access to staff, research, library and expertise from University of Aberdeen itself – along with 525 years of heritage.
Our staff are from leading universities in UK, USA, Canada, Europe, New Zealand, Australia, among other countries, and they are complimented by Aberdeen staff who join us online and on campus here in Qatar, sharing their knowledge and ensuring our students here get to work with the best that Aberdeen has to offer.
The AFG and University of Aberdeen staff work in partnership in both teaching and research and actively developing networks with local Qatar Universities and institutions. In Qatar we have what we call ‘the AFG way’. This means all students are treated as individuals, supported in their student journey, and encouraged in a friendly but professional way. Typically, our graduates come back to study MBA or MSc postgraduate degrees, and bring their friends!
How does AFG College with University of Aberdeen contribute to the National Vision: 2030?
Qatar’s vision for the future of Economic, Social, Human and Environmental Development are embedded in all that AFG College delivers.
The output of a great University education includes the development of talent and human capital, both at undergraduate and postgraduate levels. The postgraduate student is typically a leader in the making, or leading with ambitions for top management.
Our researchers work with local research teams to expand the capacity of the economy, such as entrepreneurship, supply chain management, and in areas of environment such as food security.
As I mentioned previously, students studying at AFG College have already taken a decision to accept the challenge and they are the leaders of the future who will inspire society to develop in new and exciting ways.
In AFG College, over 50% of staff are PhDs with on average 20 years teaching experience, mostly from world leading institutions.
Aren’t all universities the same?
NO! All UK universities are regulated to produce high quality degree programmes, but not all deliver a world class student experience, or are in the top 1% of the world’s universities.
AFG College with University of Aberdeen combine the best of teaching quality with the best of reputation.
University of Aberdeen is ranked in the top 20 in the UK, ranked in the top 158 of global universities, which makes it in the top 1%. AFG College selects and recruits the best staff we can find. Not all degrees are the same and AFG College will ensure a student’s decision to choose a great University at their crossroads will be the right choice.
Dr Gary Mulholland
Head of School (Interim)
AFG College with University of Aberdeen
Chair AFG Research Ethics Committee
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