Now Under New Management!

Monday, June 27, 2016

"HCT is a disaster and a very dark and sad institution"

Suede is very happy to present the latest correspondence from an extremely disgruntled former HCT employee. Any further comment from me would be superfluous, so just read and ... Enjoy!

Dear Suede 
 
Would you please post my story on your website. I had an awful experience, which fortunately ended in May 2016, at the Abu Dhabi HCT for Women.  

I was recruited to teach on the MBA program, only to arrive and find out that ... there was no MBA program! It had been suspended in 2015! So I had no role, no office, no desk, and no courses to teach. What I did face, though, was confusion and pure hate from other staff.    
 
From my perspective, HCT is a disaster, and a  very dark and sad institution.      

HCT is originally a vocational school – two years certification for the UAE high school system's weakest graduates who are not academic and have limited abilities.  Its administration, structure and educational learning model is based on some past Australian institutional example from the 1970s.  It seems that it worked well in the UAE for a period of time and produced graduates that the labor market accepted. However, after three decades, HCT grew to 17 different campuses all over the UAE and currently grants bachelor and master degrees among other certifications which totally different than what it is originally designed for. 
Due to these vast changes beyond its mandate, HCT is currently a seriously disfunctional institution for both vocational or higher educational colleges (BA, MA, .etc). Its graduates are very weak and the UAE labor market is generally avoiding hiring them. In the last two years, the central accreditation committee (CAC) of the Ministry of Higher education, who is in charge of evaluating all higher educational institutions in the UAE, hassuspended all the HCT master degrees’ programs and gave HCT a one-year final warning to fix all the major institutional problems that were pointed out by the committee for all the bachelor degrees’ programs, or it will be also suspended by the end of 2016/2017 academic year. 
Several serious violations have been reported and pointed out to be fixed by the CAC, such as the faculty's minimum qualifications should be Ph.D., not bachelor or master degrees, which is currently the majority among the current faculty.  Furthermore, the CAC demanded a complete review of all courses’ curriculum as they did not see any changes since 1980s.  Also, the CAC requested a reduction in the number of weekly teaching loads which is currently 20+ hours of contact teaching, and must be in the specific research and teaching specialization of the faculty member.  Currently, there are no specific specializations in each field of study, and there is no academic research by the faculty to speak about. 

Actually, HCT is known in the UAE as the lowest and weakest level of educational institution in the country. The students are the weakest high school graduates or rejects from other higher educational institutions, and the faculty are mostly under qualified and mainly at the end of their career - so they are desperate to have a job at any price and play alone. In short, everyone pretends: the faculty pretend to teach, the students pretend to learn, and some dubious curve is utilized to up students’ grades and pass almost everyone. That is exactly what happened in 2015 by the deliberate intervention of the upper management, and faculty are currently required and directed by the upper management to do so as part of their duties.  
The HCT is very sad place and I would not recommend it to any one with good qualifications, specially with a decent Ph.D.  There is no academic freedom or academic environment at all. You will be at a disadvantage and everyone without a doctorate will hate you and conspire against you to make you look bad and fail. I personally know of several Ph.D. qualified faculty who are actively searching for other employment opportunities in the UAE, or will just resign soon and go home.  In my opinion, you would be better off flipping burgers at MacDonald’s restaurants than teaching very lazy students, totally dependent on cheating and with low morale, and totally stupid management.  

Run away and stay away …. this is my advice to everyone applying to work at HCT.   

HCT SUCKS.    

Saturday, June 11, 2016

HCT USE NO EMPLOYMENT CONTRACTS!

The message below was sent to me earlier this week, and reveals that HCT regularly and continually flout the UAE laws regarding the issuing of employment contracts. This news will, of course, be nothing novel to many current HCT staff, but will be a complete surprise to new recruits.

My thanks go out to the 'deep throat' at Central Services who has taken the brave decision to publish this information. I am releasing it below almost exactly as it was written.

Enjoy!

HCT USE NO EMPLOYMENT CONTRACTS

It tends to surprise people when I tell them that the Higher Colleges of Technology do not use employment contracts. It is perhaps the largest government educational institution in the UAE and one of the oldest.  I was told by a longer term employee that they used to use employment contracts. However, I have worked for HCT for more than 7 years, and I have never seen an employment contract; and I have heard the same story from other employees.

For the last decade or so they have been using something titled an Employment Offer Letter, which is usually offered for signature several months before the new employment period begins. It is usually one or two pages long, has a few elements that might be in a regular contract, and then makes a reference to the HCT policies and practices on the HCT website as though they are an extension of the employment offer. I have been told by two other government bodies and a legal expert in the UAE that the HCT Employment Offer Letter is not equal to an employment contract underUAE law.

There is one problem with those HCT policies and practices, of course.  A prospective new employee has no idea what the HCT policies and practices say at all, since they are not included with the employment offer and he/she will never have access to it until starting work and getting set up with portal access by the IT department. Even then, finding them in the HCT portal is from difficult to impossible. Another problem is that there are frequent changes to the policies and practices reported by HR in global emails. This is fine, but since HCT considers them to be an extension of their employment agreements, the employee agreement in effect is not static but can change in any way at any time.

While this situation is probably not legal in other countries, it seems to be an acceptable practice in the UAE for the public sector.  Yet if an organization in the private sector does this and the labor department finds out about it, the result is court and penalties.  The only overt governmental body that HCT HR has as oversight is the spineless and compromising Federal Authority of Human Resources, which does very little or anything, even when problems are officially brought to their attention. The reputation this body has is that of an agency that lacks the power to give it any teeth, but from experience dealing with them I think they just don't have the will to bite.

My opinion is that the labor department should have authority over all UAE employers including the government and semi-independent entities such as HCT.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Re: Lower Colleges of Hypocrisy

The message below from an HCT student was first sent as a comment to my previous posting about the college's reluctance to respect its own written contracts. However, I have decided to offer it star billing of its own, as it proves that HCT is about as popular as camel shit with its own Emirati students - and not just Western staff and faculty!

*******

Greetings, Mr Oasis, 
I hope that you are doing well.

First of all, I would like to inform you that I have the exact same opinion as you do regarding the hypocrisy and nonprofessional assertiveness of the administration. 

I'm speaking of my experience as one of the direct entry students in a Women Higher Colleges of Technology student, and I'm not ashamed to say that the Higher Colleges of Technology is nothing but a sugar-coated pile of absolute garbage.

We all need to stand up to these pathetic and wretched individuals, which the warped HCT management system produces with such apparent regularity. If these bullies are allowed to continue their campaigns of vendetta and intimidation, they ultimately wreck people's minds and make their lives utterly miserable. 

I was forced by my parents to admit in this college, although I had very high grades in High School and was qualified for full paid scholarships in better colleges than this hell hole asylum. Little they did know how the HCT was a place full of corruption and malevolence. 

This vile sad excuse for a college has no respect for hard work, education or work. If you say one thing, you are out. None of the students or facility have rights. This place is toxic, and if it was not for respecting my parents desires, I would have never set foot upon this horrible, horrible place. In addition to that, guess what happened to me when I decided to fight for the rights I deserve? I got dispelled.

So I'm not ashamed to raise my middle finger out loud and say FUCK HCT, they shouldn't even be called "Higher" Colleges of Technology, more like Lower Colleges of Hypocrisy.

I rest my case. 
Again, Fuck HCT.

Wow, that is some 'recommendation' from a former student!

If there are any other current or former HCT students who would like to add their words, please do so below.

i look forward to hearing from you soon!

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

HCT show contempt for their own contracts!

The text below was sent to me just after Christmas, so forgive me the delay in publishing it.  What is patently clear though is that an HCT contract is quite worthless, as they have no intention of honoring their (written) word.

*******

I was recently granted a contract from HCT Ras al Khaimah. It had taken four months to finally receive an offer and a signed contract. So I quit my teaching job in the US, sold my belongings and made my final preparations.

However, just five days before I was scheduled to travel, I got a phone call from HR informing me that my contract had been canceled without any reason. I wrote to the chair of the business school in RAK for an explanation, but she simply ignored my request for information.

In fact, when HR called me, it was a bizarre conversation. I asked them: 

Is there something wrong with the background check?  No
Is there something wrong with my credentials?  No
Did I say something wrong?   No

So, there was no explanation given, and no reason offered; in short, they showed no respect for the concept of a signed contract or agreement.  

I would strongly recommend that everyone avoid HCT like the plague, no matter how much money they offer you. Based on my experience, they can revoke your contract at any time, for any reason or for no reason.

Anyone with a PhD from a decent university beware.  If you trust HCT or their signed contracts, you may find yourself without a job or immediate employment prospects.  The HCT administration has no honor, no decency and no concept of the meaning of an employment contract.

*******

A terrible experience, I am sure you will agree, and a stern warning to all those who might be considering making the desperate step towards working for HCT.

In fact, what I have been informed by a mole in HR at HCT is that they are so desperate for bodies that they are actively over-recruiting, as they know that there will be many no-shows.

Well guys, there will probably be a few more non-arrivals now that this information is in the public domain!


Friday, December 11, 2015

To Russia, with Love

i would like to extend a personal message of welcome to all this blog's readers in Russia, as there seems to be a good number of them these days, according to my site stats - almost 500 this week alone!

I have no idea why HCT should be such an attraction in Putin's 'democratic dictatorship', but I guess that potential employees are checking out the nitty gritty on this splendid example of educational Alice in Wonderland. Is it worth the proverbial candle (in the wind) to make the jump from the sub-zero wastes of Murmansk to the humid heat of The Gulf?

Read on and find out, Tovarisch!

Monday, April 20, 2015

KHALIFA BIN ZAYED AIR COLLEGE and Valerie McGrath

Alas, another interesting chapter in this notorious, trouble-ridden institution has been revealed; and a year or so down the line, the picture has progressed from bizarre to downright diabolical.

HCT sends in their “best” supervisor to clean up the mess left by her disgraced predecessor. Or could it be, drops her at KBZ, the dumping place for no longer wanted HCT employees, having left the company in a somewhat “strange” manner? Mrs. Hyde is clearly in the business of protecting her own position, and also wishes to escape the fate of her predecessor. She swiftly moves to get on the good side of her faculty, by doing the following:

·         Relieving teachers from teaching to perform administrative duties: Being denied the resources of the main campus, she opts to utilize teachers to perform duties that would otherwise be performed by administrative staff at HCT. In return, these teachers are given LOW or NO work hours, vastly in contrast to the 20-hour work week the contract between HCT and the military entails.

·         Assigning incompetent, weak ones to team leader duties: These are often “system rejects” who luckily got picked up in the HCT system, and will no doubt rush to her defense.

·         The weekly schedule sports huge discrepancies in hours, regardless of HCT’s clearly stipulated 20-hour weekly workload.  Mini-bosses sprout like weeds, and every brainwave is entertained, to the chagrin of the teachers who are stuck with the high teaching loads. They are now randomly summoned to meetings, workshops, and even more meetings, by these power-hungry minions, at the cost of their lesson preparation time.  

·         Incompetent and lazy teachersMore than half of the teaching faculty has not been hired by her; therefore the quality of instruction is questionable. Some, being non-renewed teachers from other campuses (i.e., dead weight picked up in the system), have reputations for trouble making to match. Her strategy to appease them, and protect her own position, is to put these half-wits in charge of the competent teachers (who are actually teaching), and a failure-proof recipe for disaster and job dissatisfaction ensues.

·         Failing to get the lack of proper dress code under control: some of the female staff is an embarrassment to the profession.  Properly dressed faculty is frequently admonished along with the culprits in polite, but clearly ineffective, emails.

·         With the looming threat of Emiratization, the new supervisor is in the precarious position of being disposable, and very likely to be replaced, as has happened recently to other hot-shots within the HCT. Absolute power corrupts, and without the watchful eye of an immediate superior, she is in the business of protecting her position. She plays the popularity card, doesn’t address serious issues as she has to keep the favor of her teachers, especially those with “trouble-making” potential. She buckles under the pressure of teachers who feel their 20-hour weekly teaching load is negotiable, relieves them, and loads their hours onto the desperate others, who would not dare to complain as they are either on probation, or awaiting contract renewal. Dishing out positions to any faculty members who might pose a problem to her, she cuts a sad and pathetic figure of desperation.

·         Allowing teachers to earn “overtime” at HCT Proper, although they had worked less than 20 hours weekly at KBZAC. Faculty load tracking sheets should reflect this clearly, although they might be “adjusted”.

·         Flagrant favoritism: Supports those who never speak up about her shortcomings, or the numerous shortcomings in her management style. Those who do speak up have their jobs sabotaged and get blocked in the system. The Iron Lady does not hesitate to use her contacts within the system to block and sabotage current jobs, or those aspiring to work at HCT. Rumor has it that applications will go as far as an actual contract being issued, until she is contacted.


It all gets too bizarre to contemplate. As is with any situation of unadulterated unfairness and unethical behaviour, the rest of the teaching faculty is disgruntled but has no forum to address their concerns. They go through the motions, but are deeply unhappy and disillusioned with their new quick fix boss. Time alone will tell how this will play out.


UPDATE: Some alarming allegations have been made against the ‘meek and friendly’ Valerie McGrath. Her cronies are certainly not rushing to her defense, in spite of her so-called high popularity.  But then again, in the Middle East you shut up if you want to hold on to your job, and don’t underestimate the power of that ill-earned overtime dough, a.k.a. ‘hush money’. 

Several reliable sources have informed us that the supervisor’s reaction to the bogus overtime claims was as follows: “the schedule is not posted on the HCT portal, so HCT has no way to check the schedules and find out the true hours.” 

Therefore, by approving bogus overtime claims, she is draining the resources of a company rumored to be millions in the red. If she is also indeed blocking applications in the system, this means that the corruption is wider, as her contacts in HR are playing along. She has ruined the livelihood of many a good teacher, and managed to hold on to the non-threatening weaker ones. This implies that the fiber of teaching faculty in the company is taking a blow.

However, she is not the only supervisor who has been known to use personal vendettas to block applications in the system; the likes of Jon Orthmann, Adam Bogg, even Maria Mcguire, (since sent packing, Alhamdillilah), have all been trigger-happy before. Clearly this woman is unscrupulous, unethical, dishonest, and abuses her power as supervisor. She may be getting away with her ill practices for now, but karma is a bitch when you are, and as the old adage goes, what goes around, surely comes around.

Friday, January 30, 2015

A Winner by Miles!

Well, the latest candidate to be added to the HCT Hall of Shame is the fine 'gentleman' pictured alongside ... Mr Rob Miles, the Head of English at HCT Sharjah!

According to my most recent intelligence report, he is an eager and willing clone of the infamous Dr ‘Evil’ Fareed. Rumor has it that he is also a very close friend of another favorite of this blog, 'Tiny' Tim Smith.

Apparently, morale hit rock bottom last semester, due to his absurd micromanaging practices, and there have been few, if any, improvements in the new year. One of his unfortunate victims has referred to him as a ‘backstabbing idiot’ – which is probably about par for most HCT Chairs and Supervisors!

Examples of his total lack of proper management skills include sending emails in capital letters (what?!?), patrolling the faculty area like a zombie security guard (get away!), sucking up to senior management (I’m SO surprised!), and generally making faculty lives a misery.

Even worse, the implementation of the IPads and Ebooks, designed to enhance the students’ learning, failed miserably as Micromanager Miles made all the decisions and did not heed the advice of the faculty, who warned him of the IPads’ limitations. As a result there was a 75% failure rate last year. 

So, welcome to these pages, Rob Miles!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

As clear as the noonday sun

I am more than happy to present for my readers' approbation another 'recommendation' from HCT faculty in Abu Dhabi. This particular writer has since collected his/her gratuity and wisely moved on, but he/she seems keen that others do not make the same mistake of believing the HCT Bullshit Machine that inhabits the HR and Recruitment Department!

Well, what can I possibly say about the three years of my life that I have wasted working for HCT in Abu Dhabi? I suppose I should start with the positives, so this section will be very short. And my conclusion might raise a few objections too.

My colleagues were, in the main part, the best thing about my time there. They were generally professional, nearly always helpful, and cared about their students. My department was not filled with divas and prima donnas, and only featured a couple of ‘nasties’ and boot-lickers. Moreover, the students could be really great at times, although in general they were not greatly different from most typical Gulf Arab students. However, the negatives far outweighed the positives.

Many of my colleagues appeared to live in genuine fear of the upper management, as it was impossible to know what to expect from them. The senior managers used the fear of being fired as a whip to keep control, and this was backed up by seemingly random sackings. Our department head was generally regarded as a careerist bootlicker, a yes-person, and was treated (and quietly ignored) accordingly. In my department every single teacher was expected to teach way beyond the contracted 20 hours per week, and with so many different sections to teach, it was impossible to maintain the quality.

And regarding the subject of quality, I have to say that I noticed a deterioration in the calibre of the new teachers that arrived during my tenure. This was clearly related to the salary package, which actually underwent a noticeable decline, mostly in terms of reduced housing benefits and school fees allowances. No good teacher with a family would really want to work there now, as there are so many better offers available elsewhere. Now, any sane educator would ask themselves just why such a well-resourced and at one time well-respected college would take such an obviously willing dive southwards in terms of its salary offer. Wouldn’t HCT be keen to retain and recruit the best possible teachers for its students?

And then the answer hit me – like the Arab Spring! The powers that be in the UAE do NOT want top-notch westerners teaching its citizens anymore, as that sort of stuff only leads to the creation of false expectations amongst the people. Democracy? Forget it, Emirati – just stay in your overpaid job and do as you’re told. Enlightenment? That just causes problems, so let’s make sure you’re taught by docile Indians and Philipinos, who will be grateful to work for 10,000 dirhams a month. Yes, that was the reason behind it all the negative changes!

It’s all as clear as the noonday sun now. How sad that I wasted three whole years of my life at HCT in Abu Dhabi before I managed to see it for myself!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Look Back in Wonder


The following message dropped into my inbox a couple of weeks back. After a little light editing, I have decided to release it to the wider public, and for the benefit of the global education fraternity.

I would like to write a brief story about my awful experience at HCT.  

In June 2012 I was given little more than two weeks' notice to close down my working life, sell everything I had accumulated over many years, and leave the country. This was because HCT, in their ultimate wisdom, had decided to eliminate my position.  

OK, let's fast forward two years now.  I apply for the same position, and HCT initially start dragging their feet; then they tell me that I have three weeks to get there. Let's keep in mind here that I had applied in June 2013, that they had interviewed me eight months later, and then did not even offer me the position until the third week of March. Yet they wanted me there in April!  

OK, if that was not bad enough,  the salary stated in the letter of offer did not match the salary that was stated in the email!  Ok, please allow me to repeat; the salary mentioned in the offer letter and the email were different!  The email salary was 20% higher than the one in the letter of offer, and guess which one they stated was the correct one?  Yep, it was the lower offer!

When I questioned this with the HR person, SR, she stated that the higher rate was for someone with a PhD. This was of course a lie, and we both knew it. The offer was in fact LESS than I had been making before I'd had to leave, it included no housing, and you could not rent an apartment for what they were giving as housing allowance.  It was MUCH worse, in other words.

Although I sometimes kick myself for not having taken the job, most all of my former colleagues are gone, no doubt having been replaced by lower salaried teachers. In fact, my former director assured me that he would be gone by the end of this semester, as he was being replaced by an Emirati (who may or may not have an education degree).

In closing, reading your blog has kept me strong in my decision to not return to the UAE.  I met many lovely people there, expats and locals that have made my life better, but thank you for your words of encouragement about not working for this organization.