Letter to Ali Abul Ragheb on the development of the higher education sector

From King Abdallah II of Jordan
To Ali Abul Ragheb
RE: The development of the higher education sector
14 May 2003
Translated from Arabic

In the name of God, the Most Merciful, the Compassionate,

Your Excellency Ali Abul Ragheb,

I send you my best greetings and wishes for success. Our vision for Jordan as a model is founded on important prerequisites for achieving sustainable economic and social development and providing an environment where justice, freedom and a decent living are the main features. Our conviction has always been that Jordanian citizens are the object and foundation of development. We have focused our concern on the importance of investment in education, training and rehabilitation, with the goal of preparing a generation of youth, capable of thinking, analysing, creating, excelling, and being aware of their rights and duties towards their homeland and nation, as well as keen on participating in different stages of work and nation building.

As you are aware, higher education is an important national priority, because it is one of the main challenges to our development in recent times. Higher education was one of the factors that were discussed in the Second National Economic Forum, held at the Dead Sea from 31 March-1 April 2001. It was addressed as an important component in the human resources development strategy prepared by the Economic Consultative Council and was studied in the "Jordan the Future" education forum held in mid-September of last year, as well as the Third National Economic Forum held in Aqaba last October.

The results have been positive. A number of achievements have been realised in developing the higher education sector, such as: reconsideration of university study plans and programmes; focusing on English-language instruction, information technology, establishing specialist centres to develop the capabilities of teaching staff, as well as the computerisation of all university activities; and the execution of several reforms to deal with the funding situation of universities. Stemming from the importance of higher education and scientific research in accelerating reform and modernisation and the demand for skilled graduates able to deal with different technological developments, values and work habits, production, achievement, and excellence, we need a comprehensive study of the challenges facing higher education, and must design work plans and clear time frames to realise our vision for this sector.

But above all, we should implement a package of immediate procedures to provide the right environment to develop and upgrade the competence of the higher education sector, the most prominent of which are legislative reforms that would allow:

  • Greater private sector participation in the shaping of higher education by increasing its representation in the Higher Education Council, facilitating its participation in providing more opportunities for distinguished higher education to Jordanian and non Jordanian students;
  • Sufficient funding for universities to ensure that they are supplied with the necessary resources through a continuous restructuring process of university fees;
  • A fund for needy students, to be funded from many resources, the most important of which is the government subsidies to universities;
  • Quality control within the higher education system through the establishment of an independent foundation that applies international standardisation;
  • Reconsidering university admission policies to achieve the largest degree of harmony between students’ academic desires and available specialisations. (This could be achieved through a study of admission methodology at the faculty level and the facilitation of movement from one specialisation to another within any one faculty.) and
  • Providing the necessary mechanisms to embrace and care for excelling, creative students, as well as encouraging scientific research and development.

Our aspirations and goals are substantial and demand collective efforts. We are all invited to support and care for youth, to discover their energy and potential, because they especially deserve our care and support. Also, youth themselves bear a responsibility to demonstrate their competitive abilities, excellence and creativity, which will dictate the homeland's future and that of generations to come.

We beseech Almighty God to grant you, and your colleagues, the ministers, success, and to show us all the path of goodwill to achieve the aspirations of our people, and build Jordan the model.

Peace, God's mercy and His blessings upon you,

Abdullah II ibn Al Hussein
Amman, 14 May 2003