Marcel Winatschek's Tokyopunk


10/03/2016

Dear Colleagues,

Last Wednesday, I had the pleasure of meeting with a group of around 100  leaders across QU to outline QU’s renewed vision, emerging strategy and evolving organizational structure.  As a follow up to that meeting, I would like to share with the broader university community some of the features of the transformation we will be embarking on as a university in the coming phase.

The achievements of the past decade have been remarkable. Our aim is to build on these achievements in order to position Qatar University as a recognized forerunner regionally and to take its quality standards and distinction areas to unprecedented levels of excellence.

Today, Qatar University is already a reputable institution and one of the top 6 universities in the Arab world. It recently became top of the world in international outlook. This ranking by Times Higher Education is testament to the success of our university’s internationalization and external collaboration agenda. Also as a result of the ambitious reforms, most QU colleges and programs are now accredited by renowned international accreditation agencies and bodies. Research has grown dramatically. Infrastructure has been advancing quickly. Student services supported and improved. The list is long and we all know that all these achievements are the result of your dedicated collective efforts.

Moving forward, driven by our confidence that an Arab national university can achieve world-class standing, we will continue to support the vital areas; namely education, research, and student success. Those sectors will be protected and enhanced in every possible way. In fact, I would suggest that one of the main objectives behind this transformation agenda is to offer supportive services that commensurate the levels of excellence in the university’s vital areas of research, education and student success.

The renewed vision, new strategic themes, and resulting organizational structure are the fruit of 6 months of diligent work and careful attention to challenges within the organization, as well as developments in the local, regional and international scenes at various levels. 2016 will be the year of mobilization towards change: change that takes us from the previous reform phase to the upcoming transformation phase, based on a clear vision that reflects the national leadership’s insight and the Board of Regents’ directives, under the chairmanship of his Excellency the Deputy Emir Sheikh Abdullah bin Hamad Al Thani.

Transformation will be based on four imperatives:

  1. We want to further sharpen the University’s focus on its areas of core business: education, student success and increasingly research are at the heart of our mission. Everything we do and every rial we spend must be evaluated against our pursuit of excellence in education and research.
  2. We want to become more sustainable: QU has always been an institution that spent money carefully and that invested with an eye on the benefit to the country. However, going forward, we will have to do more and better with less. We will have to become more cost-conscious in what we do; we will have to find and develop additional sources of funding; we will become more entrepreneurial in where we want to invest. What we are building up now, will be the basis for QU’s future success, and our strategies as well as our operations will reflect that.
  3. We want to be recognized as being distinctive: If we want to achieve what we say in our revised vision statement, we have to improve QU continuously, selectively, and visibly.
  4. We want to make a quantum leap forward - While remaining a national university with a broad offering, we will capture new programs, opportunities of leverage enabling technologies, the research areas and the service offerings that make us really stand out. We do not have the luxury to develop sequentially anymore—we must make a quantum leap forward in some areas in which we want to excel. This also means that we will de-prioritize certain areas.

The New Strategy:

In developing the new strategy, guidance was sought from the Board of Regents (the Institution’s  highest governing authority), and from internal and external stakeholders, to identify key challenges and directions based on strategic analyses and benchmarking.

Moving forward, strategic planning will be based on defined steps, in accordance with a timeline extending for 8 months. A lot has been completed already; the renewed vision, mission, and the strategic headlines have all been developed and approved. We also started  setting the change agenda. As usual, a broad segment of the university community will be involved in the planning phase, developing detailed plans within the four key performance areas: education, research, community engagement, and  support services. Once the university strategy is complete, organizational units will use it to develop their own strategies and action plans.

The New Vision:

The vision was revised and renewed in alignment with the new strategic themes. The new vision is: “to be regionally recognized for distinctive excellence in education and research, as an institution of choice for students and scholars and a catalyst for the sustainable socio-economic development of Qatar.”

The vision aims to strengthen our ability to bethe destination of choice, where students will acquire the skills and attitudes needed for the nation,  region and beyond, within an increasingly global context, and recognized as such in international league tables.  The vision also aims to make QU a destination of choice for young, ambitious scholars, and as a source for innovative thinking and research that challenges the status quo in business, the economy and society. The vision also empowers QU to become a catalyst through which Qatar is able to further diversify its economy and gain a first-mover advantage in new technologies and industries transforming into a center for excellence around which wider development takes place in Qatar and the Gulf region.

In all areas of transformation, we aim to maximize impact, advance knowledge, and drive innovation and entrepreneurship. Thus, the new strategy aims to achieve a quantum leap that is focused, sustainable and conducive of distinction in niche areas.

To achieve this, it was necessary to review and reconsider the operating model and the organizational structure using the strategic themes as a framework for this review.

The New Organizational Structure:

Refining of QU’s operating model and organizational design and structures was focused on improving governance; enhancing resources and administrative efficiencies; fostering collaboration, ownership, accountability, transparency and effective decision-making; achieving synergies in research and education; and strengthening the disciplinary and professional identities and distinctiveness of academic and research units.

The restructuring process utilized key inputs from the review of various academic, research and administrative units; strategic plans, organizational charts, job descriptions, staffing levels, progress and audit reports and others.

It also made use of the review of selected policies and procedures, services contracts, capital projects, and previous reports and studies. Various meetings with VPs, Directors, Managers and Section Heads were held as part of the 2016 operational planning and budgeting exercise, input from these meetings was also utilized. Additionally, review of organizational structures and strategic priorities of several institutions worldwide provided a source of benchmarking and best practice information.

But why was there a need to restructure to begin with? Some of the main reasons behind the decision to revise the organizational structure were the need for clear ownership, accountability and effective decision making around end-to-end processes that drive the execution of the strategic priorities. In light of a shifting international higher education scene, there was also a need to implant best-practice governance and rigorous internal controls.

Importantly, the revision of the organizational structure holds the potential to optimize resources, eliminate waste, reduce administrative cost and increase efficiencies, and respond to the growing need and direction to improve stewardship of public funds. Additionally, a need was identified to address the gap in critical functional areas such as risk, quality, compliance, policy development, funding, and others. All with the objective to enable the university to accommodate growth without adding substantially to the administrative costs.

Specific parameters were adopted in the design and development of the new organizational structure. The most important of which include focus on key areas: education, research, and student success. The restructuring shall be seamlessly structured around QU’s strategic headlines, decision making points, and around end-to-end processes that drive institutional priorities.  The structure also ensures that students remain at the center of everything we do to enable them to succeed, develop and achieve their full potential. Rigorous governance was also aimed at, with the objective of clarifying accountabilities, interfaces, and balances and enabling efficient processes that are fast, lean, and well-coordinated.

The new organizational structure can be accessed through the following link:

http://www.qu.edu.qa/ar/theuniversity/organization_chart.php

The quantum leap that we are preparing for is focused, sustainable and enables Qatar University to achieve recognized distinction in niche areas. We want to witness a day when a QU degree is adequate proof of distinctive excellence. Where QU graduates contribute remarkably and innovatively to transforming the institutions they serve and ultimately to the nation.

Throughout the transformation process, transparency, fairness and good communication will be our key priorities. We will continue to share with you detailed information and progress updates through various channels and exert every possible effort to ensure the university community embarks on this journey with enthusiasm, trust and conviction.