Sana’a University getting overhaulBassurah wants financial independence for universities [Archives:2004/705/Front Page]

January 22 2004

Mohammed Al-Qadhi
Professor Saleh Ali Bassurah, Sana'a University Rector said that the university has started implementing a part of an overall strategy during 2004 and 2005 so as to improve the university.
He told the Yemen Times that this year would be devoted to libraries and that they have already stared rehabilitating central and branch libraries, setting up new mechanisms for buying books and periodicals as well as starting electronic appendix with an internet service and audiovisual library.
He said that he is ambitious that the central library be the best in Yemen, providing good services throughout the day for students and teachers as well as people from outside the university.
The other thing the new rector has initiated is publishing four scientific magazines under the name of Sana'a University to cover humanities, applied and natural, health, education and psychological sciences.
A contest, according to Bassurah, will be innovated to encourage write books related to Yemen or translated from other languages which would be published at the expenses of the university, including the author's payment.
As an ambitious and hardworking man, Bassurah, who succeeded well in running Aden University, set up new ideas to decentralize the work at the university, establishing various councils for the university which can handle the problems and issues of the people working at the university and then reporting that to the university council. These councils include libraries, authorship and publication, education colleges etc.
The university has also started a program that aims to develop and improve the unified curricula for the seven colleges of education, colleges of arts, colleges of commerce and colleges of Sharia'a and law.
“This is a step to overhaul and innovate the curricula of the whole colleges and a part of the plan is that this curriculum would be updated every four years as the knowledge improves and renews and the need of the market changes as well,” he said. The work at the building of the university printing house which stopped has been resumed.

University Centers
The existing centers at the university have been planned to be reorganized as there is no system for them. “These centers like that of the water, women, population studies would be reorganized so as they can play a role in serving the society as well as be a source of capital for the university. We are planning to set up new centers for university development, continued education and international relations,” Bassura said.
He pointed out that it is important to have a center for international relations which would study Yemen's relationship with the world and can be of help to the ministry of foreign affairs. The university is also planning to establish a research center that can serve both the postgraduate studies as well as provide paid consultancy for interested companies and establishments. A part of the overall plan is to set up a computer network for the university departments so that a good database would be generated; this would make it easy to run finance procedures of the university easily and smoothly as well as announcing the results of the students' exams through an intranet set, which would stop forgery.
Of course, the appearance of the university and its beauty is targeted by the university leadership plan which aims to pave its streets with asphalt, green it and establish new more gates along with rehabilitation of the Jamal Abdulnaser Hall, building a new one at the college of medicine.
A multi purpose hall project would be financed by the end of this year. The college of media has been provided with a computer laboratory for the TV and radio studio. The rector is ambitious to start a new building for the college of languages, introducing new languages like the Italian and Spanish in addition to the languages of English, French, Persian, and German which are already taught.

Branch Colleges of Education
When asked about the branch colleges of education in other governorates, Bassurah said that there is no infrastructure for these colleges whose buildings were just either schools or institutes and then became colleges for education whose teaching staffs are mostly non-Yemenis.
“These colleges need not only our attention but also that of the government. Of course, there will be a new system for the universities set up by the higher studies ministry; this would target education colleges in particular and there is a possibility that some of them would be changed into community colleges while some of them like that of Amran and Sa'adda would become universities,” he said.
He agrees that expansion in announcing new universities without a good vision and strategy is a real catastrophe but he said such branch colleges are a heavy burden on the university and take a lot of its budget as the government does not provide enough financial support for them.
When they become universities, they will have independent budgets. He said that he is paying more attention to the main colleges in Sana'a which, need restructuring and overhauling and they have to open up new departments that fall in line with development in knowledge and information, focusing on applied sciences.

Need for financial independence
The Rector demanded that university should be administratively and financially independent which would help reduce the bureaucracy and centralized work one has to go through to get anything done for him.
“If the universities are independent, they can run their own projects and become self-funding institutions through selling consultancy and training to various establishments and institutions as well as staring afternoon education programs.
Through these activities which need financial and administrative independence. I call for this step which would assist the government as universities will not totally depend on the government in their budget,” he stressed.
Bassurah said that the budget given by the government covers 60-70% of the university needs. However, this budget is not open for the university leadership but is tried to several conditions set by the ministry of finance.
He also demanded that higher education in Yemen needs a lot of improvement targeting both the curricula and the teaching staff most of them need rehabilitation and training. He blamed some of them of lacking innovation and change, teaching the same syllabus or ideas for 20 years. He said some of the teaching staff does not even read the daily newspapers. However, he said there are some distinguished ones.

Students Union
With regards to the violent incident that took place recently at the university, he said he came to the university where there has been a chronic problem related to the legitimacy and illegitimacy of the students' union. He said there were elections in 1996 and 2001 coincided with partisan problems and competitions and that the university refused the second election.
But, the union was there. He said he came and decided to deal with it till there is another fair and democratic election. When the students wanted to run a ceremony to express support for the Palestinian people, he agreed to that. But when they wanted to run the election, there was, according to him, a mistake as the students presented a request for a permit only two days before and that he already agreed with them to do that before at least a week.
“We have nothing to do with the problem; we set up a committee to investigate into the problem. How can we order the arrest of the students while there is a fact-finding committee?
It was the security which made the arrest on the basis of a case filed by some students and security men were attacked in the incident. However, we worked hard to get them released and allowed them to hold a press conference at the university after their release,” he said.
He pointed out that the university is interested in having an elected union that represent all the students, urging the political parties to leave the university away from their competitions and that it should be a field for students to compete each other in their educational performance and activities.