Higher Colleges of Technology’s President & CEO Becomes UAE’s First Emirati to Receive Advance HE’s Principal Fellowship

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Dr. Abdullatif Al Shamsi awarded for commitment to strategic leadership in higher education teaching and learning 

Abu Dhabi, UAE: Dr. Abdullatif Al Shamsi, President & CEO of the Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT), the UAE’s largest applied higher education institution, has received international recognition for his dedication and commitment to educational leadership after being awarded a Principal Fellowship by Advance HE, based in the UK.

The Principal Fellowship is the highest level of professional Fellowships awarded by Advance HE and acknowledges Dr. Al Shamsi’s dynamic approach to innovative educational practices, as well as his continuous efforts to enhance and improve the HCT’s programs and educational models. Notably, the Principal Fellowship is measured against stringent criteria of the internationally recognized Professional Standards Framework.

The criteria for being eligible for the Principal Fellowship include an ability to demonstrate a sustained record of effective, strategic academic management, and being highly experienced with wide-ranging strategic leadership responsibilities in relation to key aspects of teaching and supporting learning.

This award is a reflection of HCT’s approach to teaching and learning, guided by Dr Al Shamsi’s leadership, where it constantly strives to improve and enhance its educational delivery, so as to provide the best possible learning experience for its student body of close to 23,000 male and female students. Such an approach is intrinsically aligned to the UAE’s Government Excellence Model (GEM 2.0), which seeks to enhance and improve the services provided by government entities by adopting innovative practices and approaches to service delivery.

Dr Al Shamsi’s award is due recognition for his transformative leadership, molded over an academic career spanning more than 25 years, and forged by his Engineering background, the latter which has empowered him to tackle issues analytically, utilizing a high level of problem-solving skills. As a result, he has honed his skills in creating start-ups across a range of specialty fields, as well as establishing sustainable organizational systems.  Throughout his career Dr Al Shamsi has been chosen to establish and lead many academic institutions in the UAE, enabling him to expand and fine-tune his organizational leadership skills.

Since his tenure as HCT President & CEO, which started in 2015, Dr Abdullatif has led the institution in a number of ground-breaking and watershed milestones, including leading HCT’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. HCT was able to seamlessly and smoothly transition from in-campus education delivery to a 100% online remote learning mode, facilitating HCT’s continuity of business. Since the COVID-19 lockdown HCT has provided students with 100% network availability, delivering 1.1 million hours of teaching, as well as providing safe and secure campus environments for faculty and staff, and modified, online assessment methods. This success has led HCT to pioneer its own Hybrid Education Model, which enables students to learn through a combination of on-campus learning and online, ‘anywhere, anytime’ learning.

Other noteworthy, recent accomplishments implemented under Dr Al Shamsi’s leadership include the launching of three HCT InnCuVation Spaces to incubate and develop students’ innovative initiatives; introduction of Professional Certification Qualifications, where students gain an academic qualification and a professional qualification concurrently; and all 72 academic programs being accredited by the UAE’s Commission for Academic Accreditation (CAA).

HCT’s commitment to faculty training, through Professional Development programs and policies, conferences and forums, has led HCT to win the Blackboard 2020 Global Catalyst Award for Training & Development. This followed HCT being the only higher education institution in the Middle East to win the Blackboard Catalyst Award in Leading Change, in 2019.

In 2017 Dr Al Shamsi was named as winner of the Federal Personality Award (5th edition), which is granted by HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, in recognition of his national role in furthering higher education within the UAE.

HCT currently confers an Associate Fellowship and a Fellowship to its faculty who complete Advance HE accredited programs – the Teaching Skills Enhancement Certificate and the Teaching Excellence Certificate – respectively. Approximately 250 HCT faculty members have attained the Advance HE Fellowship. HCT has about one-third of the Fellows based in Advance HE accredited providers in the MENA region. 

Advance HE is a charitable agency dedicated to the fields of teaching and learning, equality and diversity, and leadership and governance in higher education. Its mission is to promote and advocate for the continuous enhancement of these fields in higher education, within the UK and globally.

Advance HE was created from a merger of the Equality Challenge Unit, the Higher Education Academy (HEA) and the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education in the UK. HEA was a professional membership scheme promoting excellence in higher education and advocated for evidence-based teaching methods, awarding fellowships as a means of professional recognition for tertiary level educators.