How the coronavirus pandemic affected Qatar’s college college students


Doha, Qatar – Graduation is often one of many happiest days of a scholar’s life. But ceremonies world wide have been cancelled, delayed or carried out nearly as a part of measures geared toward containing the worldwide coronavirus pandemic.

Mariam al-Dhubhani, a current graduate of Northwestern University in Qatar (NU-Q), stated that her commencement expertise earlier this month left her deflated.

“On May 4, instead of feeling joy, I felt so down. I didn’t celebrate nor feel celebrated,” she stated.

This 12 months marked the second time she got here near attending a commencement ceremony however discovered the circumstances weren’t beneficial. In 2015 because the battle escalated in Yemen, she fled the nation, leaving her college training incomplete.


Meanwhile, the category of 2020 faces the prospect of graduating into one of many deepest recessions for generations, as thousands and thousands of employees lose jobs world wide.

“It’s depressing to be graduating this year. We heard that no one is hiring right now unless you’re in the tech industry,” says Salma Hassan, a global economics main at Georgetown University in Qatar (GU-Q).

Adapting to the brand new regular

In March, because the coronavirus quickly unfold throughout the globe and governments imposed restrictions on motion, universities rapidly moved lessons on-line. Among different challenges, educators in Qatar juggled educational integrity and cultural sensitivities.

A key situation they confronted was logisitics for examinations. GU-Q had initially thought-about a proctoring software that data video of a scholar’s environment. But resulting from privateness considerations from some feminine college students and oldsters, it determined towards it, says Anjana Jacob, visiting assistant professor of philosophy at GU-Q.

“In a country like Qatar, you don’t want other male students seeing you in your environment. This may not be an issue in America, for instance. The cultural concerns are different,” she stated.

Instead, the overwhelming majority of programs at the moment are assessed with out stay quizzes or proctoring by means of “alternative assignments,” she added. For a selected course that was arduous to adapt, Jacob has as soon as proctored a stay examination by way of Zoom after acquiring consent from college students.

A student at VCUarts Qatar takes online classes via the Zoom platform. [File: Reem Selo/Al Jazeera]

A scholar at VCUarts Qatar takes on-line lessons by way of the Zoom platform [File: Reem Selo/Al Jazeera]

Another college in Qatar confronted the same scenario. Local feminine college students who cowl their hair in public usually desire to maintain their cameras off in counselling classes, says a psychologist at Texas A&M University at Qatar (TAMUQ), Steve Wilson. Their choice additionally applies to sitting exams.

“Many of our female students voiced their discomfort with their images being on the computer screen, fearing that other students can screenshot or that even proctors can be recording,” Wilson stated.

The administration listened to college students’ considerations and determined that proctors would have to have the ability to establish college students by seeing their faces firstly of the examination, however that college students might then move the digicam angle to indicate their palms or workspace.

Meanwhile, at Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar (WCM-Q), college students consented to indicate their faces whereas being remotely proctored sitting an examination, in line with Dr Thurayya Arayssi, senior affiliate dean for medical training at WCM-Q. 

“Everybody wants to progress and graduate on time”.

She says college students consented following conversations and surveys that helped them perceive that facial recognition is essential.

Motivation points

Quite a few college students advised Al Jazeera they discovered studying tougher since lessons had been moved on-line, regardless of college curriculums being extra versatile for the reason that pandemic.

Among the issues cited by college students had been points with web connections, time variations for college students who’re of their home nations, display fatigue and lacking the bodily interactions with professors and fellow college students.

“Sometimes you open the Zoom link and sleep because you cannot focus,” says Abdullah Kheiry, a scholar at College of the North Atlantic–Qatar. 

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“It’s easier to engage when you’re physically present somewhere,” Wilson defined.

He stated college students battle to focus whereas social distancing due to isolation, an inconsistent schedule, and inactivity, which might deliver emotional and bodily fatigue.  

“As your mood drops, you become more depressed and lethargic. Your ability to concentrate and your memory suffers,” Wilson stated.

Students is also extra distracted than below common circumstances, particularly if any of their relations are at an elevated threat, says Dr Arayssi.

“My family back in Yemen are not safe. It’s very draining to constantly worry about what’s happening there,” al-Dhubhani stated.