Prof. Bernard Baeyens, President of the International Association for the Exchange of Students for Technical Experience (IAESTE) said that Oman is doing exceedingly well in terms of sending and receiving international students for career-focused professional internships abroad in engineering disciplines under the umbrella of the Association. “Considering the small size and population of the country and the relatively smaller number of students pursuing engineering related programs in the universities, I would say that Oman’s performance in international student exchange is exceptionally good”, noted Prof. Baeyens. He came to Oman to attend the 8th Asia and Pacific IAESTE Forum (APIF) hosted by Sultan Qaboos University from 30 September to 1 October, 2018.
IAESTE Oman was established in 2001 with a vision of connecting companies, universities and students in Oman to foster cross-border collaboration in R&D and increase the mobility of engineers. Prof. Baeyens observed that Oman is a relatively new member of the Association that was established 70 years ago. “The country, I am sure, would gain more reputation among the members of the organization and students and become a popular destination for exchange students from all parts of the world. The impressive track record of Oman in exchange of students abroad within a very short span is a testimony for that”, he said.
Dr. Ghazi Al-Rawas, Assistant Dean of Engineering for Training and Community Service at SQU, and the President for Asia and Pacific IAESTE Forum, said that through commitment, dedication and hard work, IAESTE Oman has achieved an impressive growth rate in the number of exchange students catered annually. “As a result, an escalating interest has been observed in local and international companies based in Oman to serve as active participants fueling the growth of youth in the technical sector”, he said.
Since its establishment, IAESTE Oman has been operating under complete sponsorship of College of Engineering at Sultan Qaboos University. Dr. Ghazi Al-Rawas said that the total number of outgoing and incoming since 2001 is 543 and 505 students respectively. “SQU has helped IAESTE Oman to be an active member of the IAESTE International through providing the students with best opportunities for industrial internships abroad. Having a competitive higher education level and excellent facilities, Omani students are highly skilled and capable of competing at the international level, thus exhibiting Oman on the global platform”, he said.
SQU hosted the 8th Asia and Pacific IAESTE Forum (APIF) from 30 September to 1 October, 2018 to bring together the different member the IAESTE and discuss the common issues of the Association in Asia and Pacific region. At the Forum, the members discussed several topics such as international students exchange, exchange between the member countries, improving the communication methods between the members in Asia and Pacific region, strategic plans for APIF future development, and preparation for the IAESTE Annual Conference 2019. During these two days, the delegates met SQU officials and explored the Omani culture through some culture visits to Muscat landmarks and Nizwa. Twelve delegates from Asian countries including Bangladesh, India, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, Pakistan, Palestine, Philippines, Thailand, and Turkey as well as from the IAESTE Board participated in the meeting.
IAESTE is an association of national committees representing academic, industrial and student interests. Students gain relevant technical training lasting from 4 weeks to 18 months. IAESTE includes committees representing more than 80 countries, with the potential of accepting new countries into the organization each year. IAESTE’s aims are to connect students with employers in foreign countries, provide university students with technical experience, and culturally enrich students and their host communities. IAESTE serves 4000 students, 3000 employers and 1000 academic institutions through career-focused professional internships abroad, social and intercultural reception programmes, international networking and other career and employer branding activities in more than 80 countries worldwide.