Nathir Obeidat took office as president of the University of Jordan in August, and immediately began working on solutions to a number of problems confronting the 59-year-old institution. Those include managing an ongoing financial crisis, overseeing efforts to resume on-campus study while maintaining safety during the Covid-19 pandemic, and dealing with concerns over faculty salaries and new academic programs.
Obeidat, who is a medical doctor and a former minister of health, talked about these issues and others in a recent interview with Al-Fanar Media. Following is a summary of that conversation.
Back to Face-to-Face Instruction
The University of Jordan is the kingdom’s oldest and largest public university. It has about 50,000 students in 150 academic programs offered by 24 different colleges, about 1,700 faculty members, and about 3,300 staff members.
In the current academic year, which began in October, the university has adopted a new policy for students to return to in-person classes. The university launched an online questionnaire to ascertain the Covid-19 vaccination status of students and faculty members, and established a vaccination center on its main campus. It also required every unvaccinated student to present a valid negative test, every 72 hours, upon entering the university. (See two related articles, “Algeria Requires Covid-19 Vaccine as a Condition to Attend Universities” and “Libya Lets Universities Reopen Based on Their Covid-19 Preparedness.”)
Obeidat said that returning to classrooms and adapting to the new epidemiological conditions were necessary after a year and a half of distance education. He noted that 95 percent of the staff and 79 percent of students have received the vaccine. He added that the university has designed technology-based halls that allow live broadcasts of lectures to students, who will be distributed inside and outside classrooms.