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FNC to debate scrapping of English foundation couses at UAE universities

UAE Students

The decision to abolish the English-language preparatory year for new students at the three state universities is to be raised at the Federal National Council.

The foundation course has been in place for decades to help students who would otherwise struggle with degree courses taught in English.

However, it is a serious drain on financial resources at United Arab Emirates University, Zayed University and the Higher Colleges of Technology, diverting funds from other areas, and the Cabinet decided last month that it should be scrapped.

Now the Minister of Higher Education, Sheikh Hamdan bin Mubarak, is to be asked when that decision is likely to be implemented.

“I have wanted to ask the Cabinet to remove this foundation year at universities since last June, but the question has since been delayed till now,” said Ali Al Nuaimi (Ajman).

“Now that the Cabinet has decided to waive it, I want to know what the ministry plans to do, and for them to give us a timeframe of when it will be scrapped.”

He said for too long students have had to suffer through a limbo year when they were neither school pupils nor studying towards their degrees, and universities have had to bear the cost.

Three other ministers are also expected to answer questions at Tuesday’s FNC session.

Dr Anwar Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and Minister of State for FNC Affairs, will be asked by Ahmed Al Omash (RAK) for an update on the state of a recommendation sent to the Cabinet in January 2012 urging full health insurance for all Emiratis.

Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak, Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development and head of the General Authority for Youth and Sports Welfare, will be asked by Marwan bin Ghalita (Dubai) about whether expatriate professional athletes should be allowed to participate on national teams.

Sheikh Nahyan will also be asked by two other members about the ministry’s role in enriching national identity and on a delayed law aimed at protecting archeological sites.

Finally, Dr Abdullah Bilheif Al Nuaimi, Minister of Public Works, will be expected to answer a question from Faisal Al Teniji (RAK) about the damage to Shamel Al Qasedat Road in last November’s heavy rain.

Mr Al Teniji said the road was a main thoroughfare in Ras Al Khaimah and had been built only a few months before the damage occurred.

During the second half of the session, members will debate with Sheikh Hamdan the issue of scientific research and what might be hindering it.

Dr Mona Al Bahar, who heads the committee that carried out a study on scientific research, has voiced concern over a lack of funding.

The committee has been studying the issue since 2012, and has made a number of trips to federal universities to obtain a clearer picture of the current state of research.

Their first trip took them to UAE University in November 2012. Members were not impressed.

More recently, however, the Ministry of Higher Education has revealed that part of its 2014 plan was to focus more on research.

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