Vice-Chancellor's Award goes to a graduate of Deakin's off-shore Masters in the Middle East

1 May 2014

The Vice-Chancellor's Award for Outstanding Achievement in 2013 has been won by Mr Abdelaziz Tamoghzi of the United Arab Emirates. The Vice-Chancellor's Award for Outstanding Achievement has been established to recognise the outstanding achievements of students completing their postgraduate degree by coursework. The award is offered to the highest achieving student enrolled in a Masters program in each Faculty. Mr Tamoghzi won the award for his excellent academic performance in the Faculty's Master of Education delivered at the Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT) in the United Arab Emirates; his average academic score was the highest among domestic and international students in all Masters courses in the Faculty last year.

The course that Abdelaziz graduated from is Deakin's only postgraduate program in the Middle East. The course is an Offshore Teaching Partnership, taught through blended delivery mode in a dual-degree transnational education program with our long-standing (nine years) academic partner, the Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT). The HCT is the largest government-sponsored university in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). There are 20,000 Emirati students in the HCT system of 18 colleges in 7 Emirates. The blended delivery mode at the HCT entails teaching intensives delivered in-country by senior Deakin University academics, with support in the form of weekly tutorials by appropriately-qualified HCT staff and access to CloudDeakin web-based course materials. Internal and external reviews have reported positively on the HCT/Deakin dual Masters degree program, which has also won a Deakin University's Vice-Chancellor's Award for Outstanding Teaching & Learning.

Abdelaziz Tamoghzi has positive memories of his experience with Deakin:

When I look back on my Deakin-HCT Dual Master's degree experience, I find only good memories. The two-year or so journey was replete of great moments of excitement, discovery and professional learning. To my belief, the wealth and breadth of the programme, which covered various current issues pertinent to education, were for me an opportunity not only to get new knowledge and understanding but also to reflect on my past teaching experiences and my own theories about many educational issues. It is in a way a discovery of the self, which is, following the philosopher and educator John Dewey, something in continuous formation.

My engagement with Deakin-HCT programme and the discussions I had with my colleagues/students during the courses could not have been successful or fruitful without the dedication of our honorable professors and tutors who instilled in us the art of asking questions and fostered in us that answers, if there are any, are only partial truths. With such an ethos that is established on inquiry, I learned to question all my taken-for-granted assumptions about many educational issues (curriculum, assessment, leadership etc) and reflect on my beliefs about learning and instruction. To all those who have helped me enjoy this experience, I owe heartfelt gratitude for their efforts, understanding and unconditional assistance.

The UAE government policy of Emiratisation, a policy aimed at greater participation and leadership by national Emirati men and women in the workforce, especially in the professions, is gathering strength in the HCT system. The HCT is keen to improve the numbers of Emiratis among HCT academic staff in all disciplines, and improved academic qualifications are seen as an important element. The HCT has set a target of 170 qualified Emirati academics in the HCT system by the year 2017, and Deakin is a major player in responding to this government policy. Over 100 full fee-paying UAE and other Gulf State nationals have graduated from the Master of Education program. The partnership has expanded recently with delivery of the Master of Education (Special Educational Needs) to Emirati staff of the Zayed Higher Organisation for Humanitarian Development and Special Needs through the same blended delivery mode, and we are currently negotiating with the HCT to deliver our Graduate Certificate of Higher Education Learning and Teaching. Deakin and the HCT also collaborate in conducting annual research symposia for Masters and Doctoral students. Through these activities, the Deakin/HCT academic partnership is well placed to play an important role in manifesting the government's Emiratisation policy in higher education in the UAE.

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