The HCT-Dubai Women’s College (DWC) recently hosted the 10th annual conference MENASA NASPA, from April 5-7, convened by the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators.
The three-day conference, held under the theme “Innovation in student affairs in MENA and South Asia”, was inaugurated by Dr. Abdullatif Al Shamsi, HCT Vice Chancellor, and attended by Dr Tarifa Al Zaabi, Director of DWC, Dr. Kevin Kroger, NASPA President and a number of specialists from HCT and throughout the region.
The conference aimed to explore the latest research and experiments findings in the area of student affairs and services as well as to develop innovative ideas to enhance student active participation and their interaction within their learning environments.
In his address the Vice Chancellor said HCT strives to provide a motivating and sustainable learning environment that enhances student performance at the academic and personal levels. This was especially relevant to the use of technology aimed at the ‘iPad generation’.
He emphasized the importance of recognizing rapid changes in the world today, where technological devices have become the main tool for interaction, helping to develop advanced competencies in technology use.
Dr Al Shamsi stressed the importance of providing students with a motivating and sustainable learning environment to allow interaction with information and knowledge and to enable creativity. He pointed out that the learning by doing approach adopted by HCT has contributed to promoting extracurricular activities and motivating students to do voluntary work and participate in various events and competitions.
He said that today student affairs officers play a key role in providing guidance to students to increase their chances for success, given the challenges they face, and also to equip them with academic, social and personal skills.
Dr Kevin Kroger, NASPA President, spoke about the trends in the area of student affairs for the next five years. He also discussed the need for electronic services and the analysis of student data to know their needs and interests in education, based on which content will be developed and the communication and instruction methods.
Dr Kroger added a focus must be made on extracurricular activities as they are key aspects that determine the selection of students by higher education institutions in many countries. He said focus must also be on student needs and problems so as to find innovative solutions that create positive and healthy life patterns for students, where students are encouraged to take part in providing such solutions.
Dr. Tarifa Al Zaabi, Director of DWC, said the conference was a valuable opportunity for academic experts, researchers and student affairs specialists to showcase their experiences and discuss new innovative ideas that improve student services.
“The conference featured innovative ideas relating to curricula, technologies, research findings and best practices, in addition to national and international projects that enhance the development of student affairs,” she said.
Dr Tarifa added that the student affairs departments at the colleges are the first source of information to students upon enrollment, especially regarding registration, services, majors, exams, activities, among others.
The conference topics included career services, admissions, guidance and advice, student affairs and employees, physical fitness, health and welfare, technology applications, applied research, alumni services, student leadership and student accommodation.