Thursday, 31 December 2020

More HCT Women's College Shenanigans (3)


My latest offering is the the third and last in this trilogy of 'tributes' to the HCT's women's colleges. I do most sincerely hope that anybody considering taking up 'employment' (or incarceration) in The Evil Empire will read this former employee's glowing account of the years that he wasted there and make the necessary turnabout.

***

The main problem in criticising this particular HCT Women’s College is – where to begin?

Regarding the management, most dealings with this college’s leadership are characterized by fear and accusations that stem from an obvious lack of professional and academic experience. Almost without exception, our local college ‘leaders’ prefer to view suggestions as attacks, and therefore respond negatively and with a total lack of professional etiquette. This aggressive incompetence is typically a result of a marked lack of confidence in their own abilities (i.e., they know that they are useless, but have no idea what to do about it) and stretches its inept tentacles all the way up from the chairs to the deans to higher level authorities.

One example of this college’s general torpor and incompetence is the last-minute planning and rule-changing that would have been prevented if thought and effort had been made much earlier. As such, the college entirely fails to communicate a strong direction to its faculty and other staff, and perhaps even revels in its ability to contradict itself and leave the staff ever more bewildered. All of this indecision and confusion serves to create an unscholarly environment that simply exposes staff to additional criticism and the assignation of irrelevant work by the ‘superiors’.

Many faculty members here admit that the good lecturers end up leaving the college far too soon, sometimes within as little as a year or two of their arrival. Freshly recruited instructors soon start to suffer in the toxic environment here, which displays a notable aversion to necessary change and a total lack of understanding and respect for established ‘academic’ practice. HCT is, after all, a mere college, despite its cringe-worthy attempts to pass itself off as something approaching a proper institute of higher education.

Perhaps the worst feature of this particular women’s college in the HCT empire is the way that management tends to prioritize how teaching looks on paper rather than in actual practice. In most cases, faculty members are praised for awarding high grades and punished for failing students, and may even be threatened for enforcing the college’s own rules on absences and poor academic performance. Meanwhile, teachers and lecturers wait in fear of a negative word being said about them by disgruntled students, as even the smallest amount of negative feedback from a darling princess can result in dismissal.

In short, this HCT college only serves to achieve a sad and unedifying corruption of the notion of ‘education’. Whereas most institutes of higher education around the world are regarded as centers of change and innovation, this place prefers to instil blame and fear into its practitioners, and is therefore widely regarded as a complete fraud.

And that is exactly what this HCT women’s college really is.

Tuesday, 24 November 2020

HCT: From a JEWEL to a TURD in a DECADE!

Dear esteemed readers, please let me present a most heartfelt appeal to any god-damned fools out there who might be considering a stay in 'The Sandpit'. Take good note of the little story below and don't say that you were never warned!

***

I worked at HCT full-time for more than 10 years, and can honestly state that during that time it changed from being one of the best employers in the UAE to one of the worst – if not THE WORST!

 I went there in 2010 with high expectations, and enjoyed (initially) having many excellent colleagues with diverse backgrounds and nationalities. Without doubt, HCT used be a decent place to work between 2010 and 2014, and the management allowed, appreciated and even encouraged innovation. Above all, there were many (OK, several) highly talented students there in those early years, and it was usually a pleasure to teach them.

 But it was about halfway through my second contract when it started to become clear that the orientation of the management had changed. Contracts became entirely subjective, not even worth the ink they were printed with, as senior management displayed a shameless lack of respect for the rules, changing the conditions all the time without even informing us teachers. The prospects of demotion and dismissal became ever greater, with the very real possibility of losing your job at a moment’s notice. One of my colleagues was fired on the very day he was due to take leave – only three days after having his contract renewed! I also heard horror stories of faculty being given their dismissal papers in the middle of lengthy and serious health treatment.

 Whereas HCT had once been one of the best paying colleges in the UAE, that quickly changed. Several staff members (non-teaching/faculty) received NO salary raise for almost a decade, even though living in the UAE had become ridiculously expensive. Moreover, faculty used to have the education fees for their children paid in full, but that was suddenly cut by half in the middle of the last school year I was there. Even worse, when the dreaded Faculty Merit system was initially introduced, many holders of doctorates found themselves downgraded to instructors in the middle of their contracts. At the same time, our Health insurance was abruptly changed, thus depriving many staff of their essential medication, even for long-standing illnesses such as diabetes.

 Another example of HCT’s lack of moral fiber is the depressingly high level of back-stabbing that went on there. In the latter days of my stay at HCT I witnessed many acts of the worse kind at all levels: senior staff would often spy on each other’s emails, and certain teachers would feel no shame in ‘snitching’ on their colleagues to curry favour with their supervisor. All this treachery and betrayal only ever served to ensure that they continued to harm each other, instead of working for the benefit of the organization.

 Finally, anybody who is still considering working for HCT should be aware that the contract you sign contains several articles that clearly conflict with the UAE’s Federal Labor Law – in other words, your contract is ILLEGAL! However, many of my HCT colleagues never discovered these conflicting articles until they were arbitrarily sacked!

 Still thinking of signing up? FORGET IT!!

Thursday, 30 July 2020

More Women's College Shenanigans (2)

The next posting is the second in a trilogy of, erm ... three postings about the horrors of working at a women's college in the HCT system. You have been warned!

Report Number 2
Well, what could I possibly say after spending four years teaching the spoilt, moaning and unmotivated princesses of my particular HCT outpost? 

Well, apart from the rude and deceitful students that I’ve already mentioned, there is the so-called management. Quite simply, the managers that I have encountered here are the worst I have experienced in my 30 years of teaching. Firstly, in the years that I have spent here I have never seen them support the teaching staff – not once! – even when it’s crystal clear that the students are the problem. In my view there is a deep vein of ethnic jealousy here, as the locals resent being told how to behave on their own turf, even when they are clearly wrong and know it. Saving face is always more important than getting to the bottom of a problem.

Secondly, there is hardly ever any communication about anything even vaguely important, and when there is, it’s always left to the last possible moment, leaving us all with no time to make proper plans. In most cases we get to hear about matters either second hand or … not at all! Sometimes we have to rely on the students to fill us in on what’s happening, as they will have been informed by email, but not us. On one occasion we only found out a vital piece of news about the college from a newspaper; only the day before it was due to happen did our supreme managers deem to tell us!

This lack of concern – or just total incompetence – extends to many areas of college life. We get called into meetings with just a few minutes of notice. When we ask for some guidance or training on important matters, perhaps to do with exams or syllabus changes, it just doesn’t happen. No attempts are ever made to give thanks or appraisal for a job well done – but then again, how would the useless Emirati managers even know? Almost without exception, the only time that our great masters decide to get a move on is when it concerns bad news - issuing reprimands, warnings and dismissals. So no news is usually considered to be good news by the humble servants.

However, by far the most frustrating and worrying feature of working here, at this particular branch of the HCT empire, is the corruption. Whilst I have not actually seen it myself, there have been cases of certain teachers ‘helping’ students in exams. What I can claim to be true is that marks have been altered to boost exam grades, students have been permitted to re-take exams many more times than college policy permits, and teachers have been pressurised to pass failing students. If you object to all this, you will be escorted out of the college and denied any gratuity or owed monies.

To conclude, my experience at HCT has shown it to be an entirely unprofessional organisation. My college, in particular, should be closed down and its Emirati managers re-employed as shop-assistants or bus-drivers. As for its ‘graduates’, they are fit for nothing – nothing at all! In short, it's by far the worst educational institution that I have ever worked at. The saddest thing is that the whole system is in denial; the local managers, the ones who are steering this limping, chugging monster off the tracks, have not the slightest idea how to do their jobs, and equally they have no clue how much they are despised by us teachers for their inability to do those jobs. 

And that, despite being all very sad, is absolutely true.


Monday, 4 May 2020

More Women's College Shenanigans! (1)

Suede-O is happy to reveal that several recently departed inmates from the infamous Evil HCT Empire have sent in their end-of-term reports. And what great reading they make! I sincerely hope - nay, expect - that you will ALL agree!

Report Number 1.
So what would I have done if I had known what a sham HCT is? Well, I guess there are a few things. 

For instance, if I’d known how badly the teaching staff were overloaded with courses and pointless committees, were expected to work free overtime, and would never be consulted on a single matter concerning the teaching processes and outcomes, I guess I would have stayed at home. If I’d been told that my teaching and my students’ learning would suffer from large class sizes and a woefully inexperienced local managers, I would have said: “Hey! But I’m a highly-qualified faculty member with years of international experience! How can you guys be so amateur and incompetent?” If I’d been able to foresee how the senior management micro manage the college(s) and have a total lack of international experience at the highest levels, I would have rolled my eyes in dismay and mumbled a thousand curses under my breath. If I had been aware that way too many alumni had been hired, that they lack the correct attitude and have absolutely no experience in education or industry (or any working situation at all), I probably would have wet my pants laughing at how anybody could have expected to run a tertiary education system with such low caliber employees. Had I been told that the vast majority of female students here have embedded prima-donna attitudes, are accustomed to being clearly spoiled and extremely lazy, then I would have said to myself: it must be HCT!

Caveat emptor: I have not seen a single experienced international faculty member stay at this HCT branch for more than a couple of years; they soon get burned out attempting to give a high  quality education to ungrateful female students who cheat on a large scale and are always supported by their ‘cousins’ in the administration and management. Any self-respecting educator should STAY AWAY from this frustrating maze of lies and contradictions.

My advice to those idiots who call themselves ‘managers’ here, especially of the senior variety, is to learn how treat the faculty with the same respect that you lavish upon your precious darling students; you need to actually seek advice from the internationally experienced instructors that you constantly try to belittle and undermine. More importantly, put an end to the way that you bend over backwards to appease the cheating students, and stop employing your useless alumni, who have neither teaching nor professional experience, and display absolutely no interest in performing their jobs well.

Report Number 2 is ... coming SOON!

Thursday, 28 November 2019

HCT - "unethical and dysfunctional"

The two 'recommendations' reprinted below are recent arrivals from a couple of recently departed HCT faculty members. To those HCT inmates who are leaving the desert gulag soon, please send me your own personal stories of salvation and redemption!

***
I have worked in many educational institutes around the world, but without question, HCT is the most unethical and dysfunctional organization I have ever seen. I can swear in total honesty that I personally witnessed the following: 
  • contracts and written policy "directives" arbitrarily and constantly being changed without notice, resulting in employees losing jobs, being demoted or given reduced wages without warning 
  • faculty not being provided with enough sick leave for effective medical care (to the point where one individual was forced to return to work one week after cancer surgery with visible stitches) 
  • employees being essentially forced to take overtime, but then not being paid the promised resulting wages 
  • students being unable to graduate due to sudden policy changes that were enacted without notice, and then rescinded later 
  • continually shifting calendar dates, registrar requirements, physical spaces, HR policies, management positions, platforms, resources and staffing 
On a more general note, undertaking any type of research is impossible due to the high number of teaching hours and the many mind-numbing repetitive processes that faculty are expected to do. Even the simplest academic systems, which at other organizations are set and functional, become convoluted and incomprehensible at HCT. 
Sadly, the people who remain here happily are often those who originate from even more chaotic parts of the world, or who thrive on regimentation. This may sound like a surreal exaggeration to anybody who is considering taking an offer from HCT, but I assure you that this description is actually an understatement. My sincere advice after surviving the abysmal HCT trenches for several years is for you to read all reviews carefully and then decide whether this place could possibly work for you; but ONLY in the short term.
The key issue here is that the current senior management and associated government stakeholders appear to believe that the organization is actually functioning. That misconception is evident in most quarters. The unspoken and hidden tragedy, however, is that the students, local communities and nation as a whole are lacking the enriching stimulus of a first rate federal academic organization.
·        ***
HCT treats trained academics like janitors and worse. It is the most demoralizing company I have ever worked for. Academics are not valued. The entire "school" is a scam. There is no education taking place here. It is all smoke and mirrors: People who pretend to be professors pretending to teach people who pretend to be students. If you are truly an academic, have any self-worth or integrity, and if you care about your career in academia, then DO NOT accept a job at HCT. You will be lied to, abused, cheated and in the end no other institution will take you seriously because HCT is a joke. If there were a special Olympics for academia, HCT would not be rigorous enough to qualify. It's that bad. HCT does not honor its contracts, so do not expect your compensation to in any way reflect your contract. HCT will simply modify your contract whenever and as often as it likes. In five years, my contract has been modified over a dozen times. I am currently earning roughly half of what I earned when I started. HCT not only slashes your salary once you come on board, it also slashes benefits and allowance (housing, travel, schooling...). HCT promotes Emiratis and Jordanians based on nepotism and wasta (contacts) rather than merit or qualifications. All of the directors are Emirati, and most only hold a bachelors degree (from HCT!). It's sad. If you complain in any way, management threatens you and you become a target for harsh discriminatory retaliation. UAE is so expensive that it takes at least three years to break even once you move here. So you end up getting trapped.

Saturday, 31 August 2019

12 Reasons to STAY AWAY!


A recent departee from the HCT gulag has sent Suede an updated advertisement for the undoubted attractions of working for 'The Evil Empire'. Given the amount of warnings that have already been issued regarding this place, you might well question the wisdom of adding another to the list.
But I just couldn't resist banging another nail (or twelve) into that rotting coffin-lid!
*****
1. While HCT has been paying less and less (because of cost of living increases) for many years, more and more is required of its lecturers in terms of research, advising, meetings and needless paperwork. Most faculty members will be teaching four or five different classes from September 2019, with the multiple preparations that are involved. 
2. The Ticket Benefits for westerners have been reduced greatly, from 9750 AED to around 6,000AED. What this means in reality is that you will have to pay your own passage to the UAE, at least in part. 

3. The Education Benefits for families have been reduced per child from 60,000 to 45,000 AED. If you have two kids, then the maximum is 60,000 AED. This compares very poorly with the situation two years ago, when it was 120,000 AED. In short, you will have to pay a good share of your (depleted) salary to have your children educated at a decent school. 

4. Starting from this September, an assistant professor will teach a minimum of four classes. However, according to an email from the VC of A, the college can, if necessary, assign an additional class without any payment of overtime. Last year several faculty members were assigned TWO extra classes and, despite promises of full payment, were only paid for one of them!

5. Summer teaching is now mandatory and without any compensation whatsoever. The upper management has refused to pay overtime during the summer, despite the fact that it is not included in the contract. 

6. HCT has no ranking at all among well-known universities, even in the UAE. In fact, (quite unsurprisingly) it is not listed anywhere. As a result, you will seriously hurt your career prospects if you make the unfortunate decision to join them. 

7. They have, on numerous occasions, sacked several faculty members over disputes with female students, even when it was clear that the students were at fault. So don't expect any fair or equal treatment and consideration from the HCT management if there is a conflict, and avoid teaching in female campuses, unless you really have to. 

8. In summer, all faculty members are expected to work thirty hours per week, whereas other government universities are off for summer break. In fact, HCT is the only educational institution that forces its lecturers and teaching staff to work during the summer. 

9. Look at the picture above: HCT faculty do not have offices, not even shared ones! All HCT lecturers have to work in an open office environment, similar to the cube-style desks that exist in call-centres. This creates a very noisy environment with absolutely no privacy. Even worse, the students can enter the 'halls' and walk among the cubicles freely. 

10. At HCT you will always hear (or rather, read in tiresome emails) about the need to inspire and feel happiness. Indeed, I believe there is even a Director of Happiness at one unfortunate campus! Yet no one is happy with the upper management, who willfully ignore the needs of the college's greatest assets: its teaching staff. If you have ever read George Orwell's 1984, and gulped at his Ministry of Love & Peace, you will have a good idea of exactly what I mean; if you haven't read the book, do so now!

11. There is no feeling of belonging at HCT, and no sense of security. Any simple mistake can result in a warning letter; a perceived infraction can even lead to an immediate dismissal: it is quite simply a work environment that fosters fear and a culture of denial. In short, HCT's appalling management treats its highly educated and fully trained faculty members with utter contempt, as if they were slaves.
12. To conclude, this institution is doing very well in demoralizing teaching staff and putting them down. The upper management constantly lies to its lecturers and practices every technique of manipulation known to humankind. HCT's senior managers can modify the contract at will, which reflects negatively on the allowances paid. Faculty members have recently lost a lot of their allowances (travel, schooling tuition) due to changes that were imposed post-contract. Unfortunately, the deans, division chairs, and program coordinators have no control or say, and remain as meek as lambs for fear of displeasing their Emirati masters. As a matter of fact, administrators have more authority and influence than any faculty members at HCT, which really outlines just how twisted and corrupt this 'college' actually is.

If you have any respect for yourself, your chosen career and your years of experience, don’t join this place. Just don't!

Saturday, 29 December 2018

HCT - so BIG on Respect!

The brief offering below comes from a former HCT inmate, one who has finally seen the light and turned her back on the Empire of Evil and Hypocrisy. How many more are there out there, who will be doing the same very soon? 

Like many other teachers, I became one because I felt a calling to serve, a need to help create a new tomorrow. And when I signed up for HCT, I was informed that I would be working in a country that respects teachers.
Yet what did I find here? I discovered that if I clocked out even a single minute early, I would be docked pay. I discovered that when I come in early, I will not be paid a dirham extra. And I discovered that if I had to work a weekend, I would not be given time any time off in lieu.
Yes, the HCT is VERY big on respect for teachers!
I was also assured that the students here are very respectful. Well, if what I have experienced represents respect, I would loath to feel the treatment that they dish out to those they don’t like. Quite simply, if a girl has any reason to believe a teacher is ‘bad’ (i.e., gives homework), they just run and complain and always get their own way. In fact, on my very first day here, one of my darlings made it very clear that she would call her ‘relatives’ in Abu Dhabi and life would become quite uncomfortable for me.  
So yes, HCT’s students hold their teachers in VERY high regard!
Even worse, any teacher who makes the precious little darlings actually do some work gets instantly harassed by the administration. This typically takes the form of random extra tasks, difficulties in securing documents, and the worst allocation of rooms and classes. By the way, the local Emirati management is quite incompetent and corrupt, and any attempts to obtain redress will inevitably result in … more bullying!
A colleague of mine would like to add the following:

“If we complain, a few things possibly happen, none of which are helpful. We aren’t heard. We are told nothing will change. We are told we should be grateful we are paid well. None of these answers are ones that should be going on. We aren’t teachers for the money. I can’t say that enough. Money does not motivate us.

We just ask for respect and to do our job.”

Monday, 23 April 2018

HCT - "Worst company to work for"?

A couple of recent departures from HCT’s Dubai gulag have revealed the atrocious state of affairs there. The intelligence below was left on glassdoor.com, and stands as a harsh reminder of the folly of committing to work for the evil empire. As the image alongside suggests, it's entirely the fault of the so-called management, who are, in the broadest possible terms, as arrogant as they are incompetent. 

I wonder why that could be? Please leave your suggestion in the comments box below!

1. "Worst company to work for"


Current Employee - Faculty in Dubai (United Arab Emirates)
Doesn't Recommend
Negative Outlook
I have been working at HCT (More than 3 years)
Pros
Nothing. If you think of money, it's the lowest paying company in UAE government.
Cons
Everything: from lack of respect to humans, to the breaches of law on daily basis. They are basically governed by an unclear law, not the Labor Law of the UAE.
Advice to Management
Change all of you from top to bottom. And when someone flags breaches in your organization, please pay attention, otherwise you're a crook exactly like the people who committed the law violations.


2. "lengthy and inefficient hiring process - stay away from this company"


Former Employee - Full Time Faculty in Dubai (United Arab Emirates)
Doesn't Recommend
Negative Outlook
I worked at HCT full-time (More than a year)
Pros
Nothing. Salary was less than expected and I had to accept it to keep the visa. They are good only to keep your residency visa valid.
Cons
Everything. Lengthy and inefficient employment process that resulted with low offer, wrong details, hostile work environment and pain throughout the journey.
Advice to Management
Change all of you and get introduced to something called Human Rights.

3. "Caution"


Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
Doesn't Recommend
Negative Outlook
I worked at HCT full-time
Pros
There are not sufficient pros to attempt to make a positive image for the HCT. If one could say something positive about the establishment is would be their past. In the past (I worked there for nearly 15 years) it was a smooth effective system. If you are very new to education and the UAE, it may be OK for 1-2 years to collect cash and gain experience. Don't worry about breaking your contract, they will not hold their end. But - the problem with this - is they hold the key to your release with paperwork. Yes, government clearance letters you need to exit properly and legally ranging from clearing phones, electric bills, and so on. If these are not clear you could technically be held at the airport. If you risk that, just be sure to send any significant others a day or two before you. No need for all of you to be held - which could technically happen.

Cons
Have a look at Daves ESL job forms. Contracts are being broken, housing benefits downgraded in a very expensive rental market (rent will cost $20 000 usd minimum for a place even in the countryside), education allowances slashed, and to be very fair - people are bullied by upper management. Recently in Dubai a female teacher, after getting new contract details, died of a heart attack. No joke here.

There are other places. Also, this is not a hospitable environment. Do yourself a favour - stay clear.

Advice to Management
There is no advice that can be given - too arrogant to listen. Why pretend.


Saturday, 7 October 2017

Lawyers' Update

Suede is extremely proud and happy to present an update regarding the lawyers who are dealing with the cases of illegal dismissal of HCT staff and faculty. This was added as a comment to a posting several days ago, but I feel that it deserves a more prominent billing.

*******

An update from the lawyers. I stopped in this evening to discuss my case. I’ve been told a number of HCT employees (even some from ZU) have taken advantage of the free consultation and were able to return to HCT HR and get more money than they were previously offered. So, in short a Free Consult leads to More Money! That’s not bad at all, and these guys are happy to do it even if the consults don’t result in cases. All employees are advised to bring their contracts, though. So much for the claim that these lawyers just want to take advantage of HCT victims.

Another thing is that any employees who left under the following conditions IN THE PAST have a case that can be won:

1) Terminated without severance pay equal to their full monthly salary for three (staff) to six (faculty) months.
2) Employees who worked out their contracts and only got paid to their last work day in June. They should have received full salary through their contract date, which is why HCT is now changing contracts to start and finish in July.
3) Employees who resigned and gave the required notice period and were then charged a penalty because they did not resign at the end of a semester. 
4) Employees who declined to sign the new contract and were terminated.
5) Employees who were not offered a new contract and were not officially notified of their non renewal must be renewed or given severance.
6) Employees who were officially offered a job and had the offer withdrawn.

IF HCT TELLS YOU TO SIGN THE NEW CONTRACT OR RESIGN, OR THAT A REFUSAL IS EQUAL TO RESIGNATION, DONT RESIGN!

DON’T RESIGN! THEY HAVE TO TERMINATE YOU OR EXTEND YOUR CONTRACT AS IT IS. 

Another positive thing is that if an employee does not want to sign the new contract, they don’t have to, no matter what HR tells them. If they tell you to sign it or resign, don’t resign. If they terminate you, you must get the complete severance package. For example, a teacher who refuses to sign the new contract in June or May, or any other month, and is terminated, must receive the full six months of severance payments from the date they receive official notice of termination or non renewal of the contract. If an employee refuses to sign the new contract and HCT chooses to renew that person’s contract, it must be under the old contractual terms and not the new ones.

So, you may be asking yourselves just why HCT HR has a different story. Well, the answer is they don’t know about the law and don’t care. It’s not that they are right – they are ignorant, and wilfully so.

Keep that in mind when HR tells you anything; they could be completely wrong and not even know it.

Go get ‘em. Don’t lie down and take it up the …