The Office of the Deputy Vice Chancellor for Postgraduate Studies and Research (DVC-PSR) at SQU held its annual orientation day for staff under the office. The event, held on 15 October, was attended by college Assistant Deans for Postgraduate Studies and Research, Deans of Research and Postgraduate Studies, research center Directors, and members of all other units operating under the DVC-PSR Office.
In her opening speech, Dr. Rahma Al-Mahrooqi highlighted the latest achievements in research and postgraduate studies at the university. These included the establishment of the Innovation & Technology Transfer Center, and associated Innovation Factory, which was founded to promote a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship across Oman. The center will contribute to the country’s social and economic development by helping Omani youth to engage in various activities relates to innovation and entrepreneurship. This will support the creation of spin-offs and startups that will contribute to the diversification of Oman’s economy. Dr. Rahma highlighted how the newly-established center exists in a national context which emphasizes innovation as a pillar for promoting economic diversification, job creation and global competition. The importance of establishing the center was also detailed in the Sultan Qaboos University Strategic Plan 2016-2040, with this step thereby representing an important achievement for the university.
In addition to the establishment of the Innovation & Technology Transfer Center, Dr. Rahma also spoke about the founding of the Medical Research Center as a vital step in producing and conducting high quality medical studies in state-of-the-art labs. Dr. Rahma spoke about how this center will enhance cooperation between medical specialists and other key stakeholders both locally and internationally, while also allowing researchers to conduct studies in areas of strategic importance for the sultanate. Dr. Rahma next detailed the establishment of the Sustainable Energy Research Center as another key accomplishment of the last academic year. The center focuses on various energy-related areas related, including renewable energy, integrated energy systems, energy management and its economic and social aspects.
In addition to the establishment of these centers, Dr. Rahma spoke about progress in current plans to transform SQU into a green and smart campus. To this end, SQU signed an agreement with mOmkin and Omantel to establish a living lab for smart cities housed in the university’s Communication and Information System Research Center. Other achievements that featured in Dr. Rahma’s speech included the naming of Professor Sobhi Nasir as a member of UNESCO’s Earth Resources Theme Council, the signing an agreement with the Public Establishment for Industrial Estates to establish a Research Chair for Industrial Estates and Free Zones, and the establishment of the UNESCO Chair on Ophiolite Studies – Earth Sciences.
Dr. Rahma stated that the coming academic year will witness further efforts to increase the visibility of SQU’s research output, including by achieving a wider range of indexation for the university’s six academic journals. Dr. Rahma stated that these academic journals have all been indexed in EBSCO and are now all indexed in the Directory of Open Access Journals, while applications for the four journals not currently indexed in Scopus have also been made. Dr. Rahma spoke about efforts that have been made to increase the quality and visibility of all SQU journals, has also been an important concern, including the successful migration of all journals to a new open access platform and the workshops offered for editorial board members during 2017.
In regards to postgraduate studies, Dr. Rahma detailed efforts to expand the number of postgraduate scholarships available at SQU. As a result of these efforts, in August 2018, Petrofac E&C Oman agreed to sponsor students undertaking master-level studies at the College of Engineering, with these scholarships complementing those already offered by organizations including PDO, Oman Oil Marketing Company and so on.
Dr. Rahma stated that the DVC-PSR Office and its associated research centers are keen to place the strategic needs of the country as a priority in their research interests and activities, and that efforts continue to be made to engage in various forms of research cooperation with a variety of concerned organizations in order to achieve these aims.
Following Dr. Rahma’s speech, the Dean of Research, Dr. Yahya Al-Wahaibi, spoke about the most important plans of the deanship in addition to a number of its achievements and activities, including the creation of the Most Active Research Group prize.
The Deanship of Research also organized the First Students’ Research Conference as a means of effectively engaging students in research, and to provide a forum for presenting the most important student research achievements to academics and other interested parties from the university and other academic institutions, and and representatives from the public and private sectors and members of the general public..
Next, Dr. Tayseera Al Baloushiya, the Assistant Dean of Postgraduate Studies, gave a presentation about the most important achievements of the deanship, including the transfer of a range of services related to graduate students to an electronic platform which is easily accessible to students and the organization of various events that serve the postgraduate studies mission and vision at SQU.