Under the theme “Bridging the Gap: Paving the Way to Student Success”, Qatar University ( QU ) hosted the 9th Middle East, North Africa and South Asia (MENASA) NASPA Conference on February 4-5.

Over 200 delegates came together to discuss, network and share experiences around the issue of promoting student success at the university level.

The 2-day forum which was organized by the university’s Student Affairs Sector in conjunction with NASPA drew the participation of regional universities that included Qatar University , Hamad bin Khalifa University , Zayed University, Abu Dhabi University, American University of Kuwait, Arabian Gulf University, UAE Higher Colleges of Technology, New York University Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates University, American University of Beirut, Khalifa University of Science, Technology and Research .

The conference program comprised about 50 sessions that included workshops, lectures, panel discussions, and paper and poster presentations on topics such as student success, student development, student retention, first-year experience, student employment, leadership from a Middle East perspective, and many more. Attendees also participated in a number of side-line activities highlighting Qatari history and culture.

Keynote speeches were delivered by QU College of Business and Economics Dean Dr Nitham Hindi, and Hamad bin Khalifa University Vice President for Student Affairs Dr Khalid Al-Khanji. Also attending were NASPA representatives – Region III Program Director and Dean of Students Dr Becky Spurlock, VP for Professional Development Dr Stephanie Gordon, and Director of Educational Programs Ms Tiki Ayiku.

In his opening remarks, QU Associate VP for Student Life and Services Mr Abdulla Al-Yafei noted that the conference theme highlighted student success as the common goal shared by higher education professionals around the globe. He further stated that student success is a key factor in motivating faculty members, administrators, and staff to increase their efforts towards improving students’ learning environments.

Mr Al-Yafei further noted that the MENASA region has seen tremendous developments in the number of students enrolling in university programs and in the quality of these programs and services, which have led to an increase in the desire to achieve international standards for student learning and outcomes.

He added: “This conference will contribute to the exchange of expertise related to programs and services and increase opportunities for inter-regional professional development and research collaboration. It is also an opportunity to share experiences across the student affairs profession, and engage in dialogue and recommendations on sustainable approaches by higher education institutions to ensure student success.”

Dr Spurlock expressed her gratitude and appreciation for the opportunity to participate in the conference, where she was able to meet with many professionals, and discuss new innovations in the MENASA student affairs sector.

Hamad Bin Khalifa University Director of Housing and Residence Life Mr Jamil Karam said: “The conference sessions covered diverse subjects such as academic advising, civil conduct, student employment, collaboration and partnership which were important topics for us as colleagues to reflect on.”

Dr Gordon announced the establishment of the MENASA NASPA and the future formation of an Advisory Board that she said will offer regionally-relevant professional development opportunities, activities and experiences to student affairs practitioners in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia geographic area. The Board will also coordinate and oversee the various operations and activities in the MENASA area as well as represent the countries that fall within this geographic area.

Media enquiries to Judith Bennett Henry, +974 4403 3063; jbennetthenry@qu.edu.qa.

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