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TTC receives Oxford award

Technical Trainers College (TTC) was selected by Britain’s prestigious Oxford University for its international ‘Best College’ award for its role in imparting higher education in the Arab region.
Dr. Michael Klees, TTC’s dean and director, received the award on behalf of the TTC in the historic Oxford Town Hall in the UK this month.
Concurrent with the award to the TTC, Dr. Klees was recognized as ‘Manager of the Year’ for his achievements in leading the college to success. The TTC started operations in 2009, and Dr. Klees was appointed at his present position in 2010.
Arab News had an exclusive interview with Klees on Monday who said the award was presented at a ceremony during the Oxford Summit of Leaders organized by the European Business Assembly (EBA) in cooperation with Oxford University.
“Oxford University’s recognition is an important step for Saudi Arabia because it rates the country as a place where vision in education matters” he said.
Officially, TTC offers courses only to Saudi nationals. However, there are exceptional cases, where non-Saudis have studied at TTC, he said. These graduates typically work in the private sector after graduation.
He said that during the summit, nearly 100 rectors, presidents, deans and other university leaders from about 50 countries worldwide as well as 200 researchers and business leaders gathered to discuss trends, opportunities and challenges to higher education in the 21st century.
According to him, the award resulted from a strict review by peers and the EBA steering committee. The TTC, an institution of higher learning for Technical and Vocational Training (TVTC), is the only teacher training institute in the Arab peninsula for vocational teachers. The TTC is operated by the German International Cooperation Agency (GIZ).
The college academic program is based on German vocational training methods and experiences. The Bachelor of Engineering Technology (BET), which TTC grants to successful students upon graduation, is internationally accredited according to European standards by the German accreditation agency ZeVA. TTC graduates may thus pursue a master’s degree in any European university.
Saudi Arabia has followed a strategy of strengthening and expanding its vocational training system by internationally tendering multiple vocational training institutes through the newly founded Colleges of Excellence (CoE).
“The Club of Rectors of Europe (CRE) and the EBA have installed a review committee, which analyzes universities according to various criteria, like academic quality, accreditations, qualification of the faculty, etc,” he added.
He continued, “To my knowledge, university leaders from other universities (peers) were also involved in the review. CRE members span from Africa to Central and East Asia and even Latin America.
“What was prominent, especially in our case was the scope of the ambition of TTC: Students are admitted every semester at a very high start-up rate — 0 to 100 km in 5 seconds, so to speak; our policy of admitting students during the start-up phase every semester; and the vision and foresight to train the much needed vocational trainers thoroughly.”
“The award recognizes the academic depth of TTC and the scope of the college’s vision. The TTC is already formally internationally accredited and abides by European standards,” he said, adding, “This award adds a high visibility to the TTC on a global scale and shows that TTC has reached maturity.”
For several years now, vocational training has been recognized as a key element to reduce youth unemployment.
Vocational training thus enhances stability by guaranteeing a future to the youth. However, only Saudi Arabia has had the foresight, vision and depth of analysis to recognize that the build-up of vocational training requires qualified teachers. There is nothing similar to TTC; the concept has aroused interest in countries as far as North Africa, India, and even China, he said.
TTC’s success proves that it is not enough to re-train engineers in educational methods by way of short courses. The TTC instead shows that competent vocational teachers are being formed in a long-term process. The centuries-old German experience which has inspired TTC’s educational concept offers sustainability of the effort.
Furthermore, TTC has only just begun and plans to significantly enhance its offer of training courses to private sector companies. Furthermore, TTC is preparing offers for a master’s program in education and school management, which may be jointly carried out with German partner universities. The modalities for such offers are not yet totally decided upon but there may be scope for non-Saudi participation, Klees added.

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