Jeddah, Asharq Al-Awsat- The director discusses the faculty of media for women only, saying that the department is complete two years after preparations began, and that studies will begin to at the beginning of 2006. "The opening of this department for women is the result of development in all of the university”s departments and curricula. There is also a plan for developing the faculty of media as well as the restructuring of the press, television and radio."
Dr Al-Habib of King Abdulaziz University, which is the first university in the kingdom to publish a student newspaper, stated that the delay in launching the women”s division was due to a lack of teaching staff. He further revealed that there are plans to offer also a Masters Degree program.
The interview follows:
Q) On what grounds was the launching of a women”s section for the media faculty based?
A) As well as the restructuring of the departments and their programs at the undergraduate level, we began to consider the idea of a women”s division in the faculty of media. The council of the faculty actually recommended the initiative to open a department that would offer specialization only in journalism. The plan is ready and we hope that it would get the approval from the concerned councils and the study is expected to begin next year. There is no doubt that if young talent is supported by academia then this will enrich professional female journalists and this is what is needed in our society.
Q) Preparations for the women”s department began two years ago. Do you not agree that it should have opened earlier? Furthermore, do you believe that the scheme would contribute to the development of women in journalism?
A) I do agree but the university only began its reorganization process two years ago. Therefore, we considered this as a good opportunity to merge the restructuring with the opening of a women”s department. The reorganizing, under the guidance of Dr Osama Bin Sadik, is now in its final stages.
I would like to emphasize that both society and the workforce are in dire need of qualified women in various media institutions and newspapers. There is a noticeable increase in the number of women who want to study media. The world is run by the media today and the qualities, ambitions and academic skills that women have may work well with society and its issues. Furthermore, they may contribute to solving its problems. Media cannot do without women.
Q) Could you tell us more about the reorganizing of the media faculty at the King Abdulaziz University?
A) The Faculty of media at the King Abdulaziz University is one of the most important departments that has responded positively to the developmental plan. Teams were formed to restructure the curriculum. The teams and their leaders worked hand in hand to come up with a reform program to match the new media developments and the new job markets.
Q) Will the reorganization of the faculty contribute to qualifying students for the job market?
A) Yes. The department reformed undergraduate studies in compliance with the latest media research in addition to suit societal needs and the job market. The main component of the new program is the expansion on practical training in all specializations. The program also recommends the establishment of a new specialization that is marketing.
The expansion in practical training was approved by the higher board of directors of the university and the dean of the arts and humanities faculty. There were suggestions for other faculties to introduce practical training. Moreover, with the support of Dr Mohsin Bin Ahmed al-Mansouri, Dean of the Students” Affairs faculty is working for the improvement of its television and radio labs.
Q) When will the department offer post-graduate schemes?
A) A plan has been presented to administration to launch post-graduate schemes. However, the main obstacle is the lack of teaching staff. We hope that this will change in the near future.
Q) Are there any attempts of linking the media education programs to society and the media outside of university?
A) Undoubtedly there are. We encourage students to engage with the media. We are keen for students to attend conferences and seminars that take place and to cover events for radio or television or for the press. Furthermore, students involved in public relations participate in organizing these events. Also we are keen to establish internship programs with prominent media institutions.
There are some examples of students who have gained full or part time employment after successful internships. It all depends how committed and serious the student is on doing well.
Q) Is there communication between your department and other media faculties of other Saudi or Gulf universities?
A) Actually, the Secretary General of the GCC arts and humanities departments is based in King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah. He had recommended a meeting between the media faculties of the Gulf countries every two years. The first meeting was held in Kuwait two years ago. We hope that these meetings continue to take place to exchange information and experiences and to increase further joint research between the universities of the Gulf that would benefit all of our countries.
The Saudi Association for Media and Communication holds a meeting annually that is attended by a large number of scholars, media figures, intellectuals, officials and academics. The Association represents an opportunity to exchange ideas and to present new media approaches as well as to increase the coordination and cooperation between various media experts and workers on one hand, and educational media faculties on the other.