The Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT) and Deakin University, Australia, celebrated the seventh year of their successful partnership by hosting a Master of Education Graduate Seminar and Alumni Dinner on Saturday, June 9th, at Dubai Women’s College.
First established in 2005 as a Deakin Master of Education degree hosted by HCT, the partnership was brought to a new level in 2011 with the launch of a dual degree program taught jointly by HCT and Deakin senior faculty. Students successfully completing the demanding series of courses are awarded a Master of Science in Education Management and Policy from HCT and a Master of Education from Deakin University.
Saturday’s program began with a graduate student seminar where current students in the program gave conference presentations on their research. Topics ranged from the use of learning centers in kindergarten curriculums to the use of performance assessment as an alternate tool of for student evaluation.
Deakin University faculty members were represented at the event by Professor Brenda Cherednichenko, Pro-Vice Chancellor, and Professor Ian Robottom, Associate Dean, both of the school of Arts and Education. On the presentations, Professors Cherednichenko and Robottom said the presenters “demonstrated deep understanding of their own teaching and a critical desire to research and learn so that they can improve education for the young people in their care. Their professional commitment to further improvements in education nationally is impressive.”
Following the Graduate Student Seminar, the first Annual Alumni Dinner was hosted by Deakin University and organized by HCT. Taking place at Dubai Women’s College, the dinner brought together senior HCT and Deakin faculty, alumni of the program, and current students.
Ms. Ameena Kang, the Master of Ceremonies for the dinner, and a 2011 graduate of the dual program, explained the purpose of the program was to “provide an opportunity for the alumni of the program to gather; to build networks among the alumni and continuing students; and to celebrate the continued success of the program”.
“We wanted this to be a celebration of community, and we wanted everyone to have an opportunity to relax and reconnect,” Ameena said.
The evening was also a celebration of UAE heritage as a traditional poetry reading was done by two Emirati school children and a performance of traditional Emirati dance was done by volunteers from the Al Mazyood performance group. “Our entertainment was provided by volunteers, and they provided us with excellent examples of the strong traditions of the United Arab Emirates,” an organizer said.
“Deakin and HCT have worked hard to create a dual degree program that meets the needs of a new generation of qualified and aspirational Emiratis and expatriates. Our program draws on the reciprocal strengths of both institutions and deals with current educational issues in a way that is both internationally focused and locally relevant,” Dr. Patrick Dougherty, Chair of HCT’s Graduate Education Programs said.
“We celebrated by bringing together our alumni and our current crop of aspiring scholars. These events brought a sense of continuity and community to the program, and also allowed our current students to see that ‘yes’, the program, the assessments, the work and effort, all of it can be survived. The alumni are proof of this, and as we’ve seen they have not only survived but thrived,” Dr. Dougherty added.