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When appointing new academic staff

Sep 27,2017 - Last updated at Sep 27,2017

Every year, tens of faculties at local universities, public and private, fund (for obtaining a postgraduate degree) and appoint new academic staff in a process that is supposed to maintain academic balance, and introduce new blood in those faculties.

Appointing new staff is a complex procedure that normally starts with advertising the job. Applicants send their resumes, followed by a chain of committee meetings that end with the dean’s counsel approving or declining the application.

What are the criteria universities rely on to appoint new staff?

With some variations, focus is put on academic achievement (secondary, undergraduate and postgraduate grades, along with the country and university of graduation). Academic publications and previous experience may count, too.

Often, however, little attention is given to the applicant’s communication skills, leadership abilities, previous co-curricular activities, entrepreneurship and English-language skills.

True investment in human capital will never be effective if we approach it through academic achievement solely.

Being the top of one’s class throughout the education process does not necessarily guarantee smooth and successful delivery of knowledge to students.

Many studies highlight an alarming lack of communication skills among those who are top in their classes.

Not being able to share knowledge effectively with students greatly damages our educational process.

Professors should set an example of successful communication abilities and not only of academic excellence.

This draws attention to the importance of adopting a pre-appointment training programme or certification where new academic staff is trained for a duration of six months to one year before being introduced to students.

A post-graduate diploma in higher education or a post-doctoral training year with gradual student interaction would be very helpful and would raise the confidence of newly appointed staff before they commenced their academic career.

Setting an example for students is a very important aspect. Bearing in mind that university students have built most of their thoughts and aspects of their personality through school years, it is important to make sure that university professors are able to deal with a huge variation of academic abilities, social backgrounds, political views and nationalities.

Setting an example in accepting others and keeping the same distance from all students will have a positive effect on student behaviour.

If we manage to influence such behaviour among students, it will help reduce and eliminate student violence in our universities, and give rise to a professional society that accepts differences, respects competitiveness and renounces nepotism.

Appointing true leaders who can set a bright example for our future generations is as important as appointing high-level academics.

Furthermore, university professors should be entrepreneurs in delivering knowledge and in dealing with students. They should create “new ways” of conveying information and take extra steps to adopt non-traditional ways in university education.

Newly appointed staff should have the courage to reject traditional and classical education and student assessment methods, and adopt modern strategies that may improve their students’ outcomes.

If we aim to truly invest in human resources, students need to study in an environment that encourages creativity, leadership, fruitful communication, accepting the others, respecting differences and entrepreneurship.

University students gain much by communicating with their professors who should set a positive example.

To proceed forward with higher education development, national strategies should focus not only on recruiting academic staff of high calibre and aspects related to research and education, but also on aspects related to personal development.

Higher education reform should have a place for true and effective development of academics that reflects on students as positive outcomes.



The writer, [email protected], is associate professor of clinical pharmacy at Jordan University of Science and Technology. He contributed this article to The Jordan Times.

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