On Wednesday, 17 April 2019, Sultan Qaboos University organized “The National Workshop on the Alignment of the English Language and Literature Program at SQU with the Needs of the Omani Labor Market” at the Crowne Plaza – Oman Convention and Exhibition Center. The workshop, held under the auspices of Her Excellency Dr. Rawya Al Busaidi, Minister of Higher Education, discussed the data collected from different stakeholders regarding the future direction of the English Language and Literature Program at SQU. The workshop featured as a keynote speaker Prof. Robert Myers, Professor of English and Director of Alwaleed Center for American Studies (CASAR) American University of Beirut. Prof. Myers addressed the audience on how English Literature Programs throughout the world have been adapting to labor market demands.
This National Workshop is a very important endeavor that highlights the efforts of the College of Arts & Social Sciences at SQU in aligning its academic programs with labor market demands. It is inspired by the participatory approach of the future vision of “Oman 2040.” Over 100 stakeholders have been carefully selected as representatives of various public and private sectors such as Oman Vision 2040, Supreme Council of Planning, Tanfeedh, Diwan of Royal Court, Education, Media and Communication, Banking, Oil and Gas, Diplomacy, Tourism and Commerce and Industry to participate in this national workshop. These were directly engaged in a constructive dialogue within themselves and with other key stakeholders such as program alumni, program current students, program faculty and relevant academic experts.
This genuine dialogue aims to contribute to the process of decision-making regarding the development of one of the oldest and most established academic programs at SQU and the Sultanate of Oman, which is the BA in English Language and Literature at SQU. This National Workshop featured an engaging discussion of data collected from a wide-spectrum of public and private stakeholders over a period of two years (2017–2018) in response to the recommendations of an international panel of expert reviewers who reviewed the program in November 2016.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the workshop, Dr. Mohammed Al Belushi, Dean of the College of Arts & Social Sciences at SQU said that the workshop highlights the commitment of SQU and the College to excellence in engaging the community in their efforts to develop their academic programs. “Aligning academic programs with the needs of the job market has become essential. Academic program development is no longer in the hands of academics alone. This is becoming a social responsibility shared among a variety of stakeholders. This workshop is an excellent example that the field of humanities is reaching out to the job market for consultation and advice on how to meet the market expectations”, the Dean said.
Dr. AbdulGabbar Al Sharafi, Head, Department of English Language & Literature at the College of Arts & Social Sciences at SQU said that the workshop would come up with focused recommendations on four themes namely the program focus, program name, program options and program curriculum. “The Department hopes that a consensus would be reached on these recommendations. The final recommendations would be then studied along with the report that Prof. Myers would be submitting in a few weeks. This together would help the Department decide the future of the program”, he noted.