September 2, 2022 marks the University of Jordan’s (UJ) sixtieth anniversary. Since its establishment, UJ has been advancing steadily and its “name becoming bigger,” as its anthem, composed by the famous national poet Haidar Mahmoud, reads.
Advancing? Its “name becoming bigger”?
For it is ranked first, at the national level, by the vast majority of global university rankings. It is first nationally, according to the QS ranking, and has been awarded a 5-star rating by QS. According to QS also, its overall ranking is getting close to entering the list of the best 500 internationally, and many of its individual specialisations have made it to the best 150, 200, 300, and 400 globally. According to QS, moreover, it is ranked 10th at the Arab level.
It is also the first among national universities to enter the more challenging and difficult Shanghai ranking.
And these are no small achievements.
It is also advancing steadily and its “name becoming bigger” because for six decades it has been providing the Jordanian state and society with quality graduates who have played a leadership role and contributed greatly to the modernisation and advancement of the Jordanian society, in addition to several societies in the region and beyond.
Its graduates possess high competencies, and prestigious international universities, because of its name and reputation, are always seeking to cooperate with it on a variety of vital projects and schemes. And these same universities open their doors wide open for the UJ graduates to pursue advanced degrees in their highly competitive programmes.
Much more can be said about UJ’s feat and achievements.
The point to stress here, however, is that UJ has done all of this, and more, with humble financial and material resources.
When I visited the University of Copenhagen (abbreviated KU) in 2004, which had the same number of students as the number at UJ then, I asked its officials about its annual budget. The answer came: about 1 billion euros.
What do you think the UJ budget was then? 90 million JDs, roughly one-tenth of KU’s budget.
Today, the UJ budget is still as humble as it was then.
This is why when we say that UJ is a real success story, we say this, in part, because it does a lot with little.
We have just said that UJ is the 10th at the Arab level, according to QS. Which do you think the rest of the nine universities are? They are the AUB and the major universities in the Arabian Gulf countries. What are their budgets in comparison to UJ’s.
Clearly much bigger.
With a small, humble budget UJ is passing the test with flying colours. And the UJ story is like the story of the country at large, relying on human resources and intellectual capital for the achievements made so far, despite pressing financial and material shortages.
UJ is competing at the forefront nationally, regionally, and internationally because of the outstanding intellectual capital it has, represented by its faculty members, its administrative staff, its students, as well as the wise management of its upper administrations over the years which have exerted heroic efforts to make ends meet.
Why is one focusing on finance so much here?
First, because education, scientific research, and quality performance are expensive.
The UJ budget is humble, and UJ is suffering from a deficit due to the high costs of education, of investing in the education of potential faculty members through full scholarships given to high achievers who are sent to obtain their higher degrees from abroad, of scientific research, of generating and spreading of knowledge, of community service, and other expenses.
It is no secret, in fact, that most public Jordanian universities are short of the necessary funds to cover what has just been stated above, and to main and upgrade the campus facilities which have been subject to the wear and tear of time.
Second, because funding shortages may affect the UJ performance negatively, if solutions are not found.
On UJ’s sixtieth anniversary, we pride ourselves on what UJ is achieving now, and has achieved since its establishment in 1962. And we rejoice in such remarkable achievements.
At the same time, UJ needs us to stand firmly behind it and offer adequate support. The support is needed from the state, society, and the UJ graduates who are no less than a quarter of a million.
UJ is intent on moving forward on the path of success, but it will achieve more success if it is sufficiently supported: with action, and not with words.