Interview with Dr Leslie Pal, Dean of CPP | HBKU
Hamad Bin Khalifa University

People Interview with Dr Leslie Pal, Dean of CPP

What are your preparations at the College for the new academic year? How many students are enrolled in your respective Colleges this academic year and how does the pandemic affect the enrollment situation (number)?

The entire university is preparing by offering all courses online for the first part of the term. The College of Public Policy also took the step of offering an online course over the summer for our students, so that they could get ahead of their requirements, depending on the challenges COVID might pose in 2020-21. 

We have 30 students enrolled now, at the beginning of only our second year. I was anticipating a drop in applications, but ours actually went up significantly, and our admissions exceeded our target by 25 percent. 

What are the mechanisms/ new programmes in place in your respective Colleges to ensure the students get to maximize their learning experience at HBKU and continue to receive high quality education despite the restrictions due to the ongoing health crisis?

We first ensured that all of our instructors had the opportunity over the summer to hone their online teaching skills. Many people still think that “going online” is just a switch from the classroom to the screen, but it’s much more than that. Learning materials have to be changed – and sometimes this means an improvement since it encourages use of the vast amount of on-line resources that are now available on the internet. 

Second, we have altered teaching formats to introduce more variety and the appropriate pacing for on-line education. 

Third, our professors are increasing their direct one-to-one contact with students to ensure that everyone is progressing evenly, and that any problems in comprehension or understanding are addressed early. 

What is your message to the incoming students for the new academic year at this time of pandemic and uncertainties?

The basic message is that we are supporting you. For my college, as for the others at HBKU, ultimately the most important indicator of our success is student success. The second message is to help us help you. Online learning at distance, often from home with job and family responsibilities, is tough. Students shouldn’t feel that they are alone and have to somehow just ride it out. Our instructors are ready to help, the college administration is ready to help, and HBKU’s facilities and services are here to help as well. We’re in this together, and we’ll make it through if we help each other. 

Source: Qatar Tribune

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