Qatar University (QU) has revised its academic probation policies to make it easier for struggling students to boost their grade point averages and obtain a college degree.
In a statement on its website this week, QU’s Vice President of Student Affairs Khaled Al Khanji said the policy was made more flexible because “it’s important that this gives (students) more confidence in themselves and makes them actively pursue their studies.”
The changes include a revision of the university’s prevision academic warning policy, as well as new rules regarding re-enrollment in the university and the repeating of courses.
According to Al Khanji, the revisions were made after a thorough study of students’ needs and academic levels, in addition to QU’s aim to raise the academic standards of its graduates.
Today, several QU students hailed the changes, telling Doha News that they are an improvement from previous years’ policies:
— مريم ناصر? (@Mariamnasserk) December 23, 2015
Translation: Many students will benefit a great deal from this, as the warnings caused great fear (of failure and expulsion) among the students, but this will give them opportunity and encourage them (to study)…Thanks to QU’s administration.
Translation: We no longer fear getting expelled for (failing) one subject, but now we can repeat it and improve our average grades.
Approval of the changes was not universal, however.
Speaking to Doha News, Safaa, an honor student at QU, said she agreed that the changes would help some improve their grades and get their degrees.
But she said the downside was that students are required to work in teams on several projects, and the academic level of some members is so low, that the honor students are often forced to do all the work.
The new policy includes several amendments that make it more difficult to expel students from the university, and give them more opportunities to make up for their bad grades or failed courses.
For example, the former policy stated that students who receive four intermittent warnings for having a GPA of less than “2.0” would be expelled.
That provision has now been removed. Under the new policy, students who improve their grades to at least a 2.0, which is roughly equivalent to a C, will have previous warnings stricken from the record altogether, according to the statement.
Another amendment states that if students fail a specific course (presumably a required one) three times and repeat it, the highest grade they receive on the course would be factored into their GPA.
Previously, a student was expelled from the university if he/she failed a course three times, no matter how high his/her GPA was.
Dr. Mazen Hasna, QU’s vice-president and chief academic officer, said that the university will exert all efforts to immediately provide accurate information to the students regarding their academic status, but added that it’s also the students’ responsibility to be aware of their academic situation at all times.
QU students said that the university has been making them more aware of their academic performance by including drafting charts that show how they are doing and how long is left before their graduation on the school’s website.
Other restrictions that haven’t changed from the previous policy include giving students academic warnings if their GPA drops below 2.0, and the number of school hours required to graduate, according to a video posted by QU on Youtube.
If students receives a final academic warning at the end of a semester due to a low GPA and cannot improve it to at least 2.0 by the next term, they could still be dismissed from school.
This excludes the summer semester, which is only added to the GPA if the student gets grades that would improve his/her overall standing.
Additionally, students who spend more than six years at university instead of four could be expelled.
That move was seen by some as undoing groundwork laid by longtime former (QU) President Sheikha Abdulla Al-Misnad, who increased standards to prepare students to compete in a global market.
Speaking in 2013 about the resistance she faced regarding raising the minimum required GPA from 1.5 to 2.0, Al-Misnad said in remarks that were widely criticized by Qataris that previously, “anyone who got in could get out.”
In June, Al-Misnad was replaced by Dr. Hassan Rashid Al-Derham as QU president.
According to Hasna, the policies that were revised this week would not affect academic standards, and graduates would continue to “serve the Qatari labor market and provide it with the best national qualifications.”
Now that it is admitting more people, QU’s student body has increased rapidly in recent years, with some 15,000 students enrolled in the school.
It is now undertaking a major expansion of its campus with the goal of accommodating up to 25,000 students by 2019.