A flourishing collaboration in educational development


The partnership between Imam Abdulrahman bin Faisal University and the University of Turku has spanned over five years. Throughout this time, the collaboration, aimed at improving teaching and learning practices for the academic community, has evolved and led to notable advancements in pedagogical approaches and educational outcomes. 

Imam Abdulrahman bin Faisal University (IAU) in Saudi Arabia is committed to enhancing the skills and competencies of its teaching staff to improve the students' learning experience. The University of Turku is renowned for its pedagogical expertise and innovative approaches to education, making it an ideal partner for IAU's initiatives aimed at enhancing teaching and learning methodologies.

For the University of Turku, the partnership has offered an in-depth insight to Saudi Arabian educational culture strengthening, for example, the University’s capabilities for teaching in diverse settings. Both institutions are focused on creating innovative and inspiring learning environments which enable teachers and students to thrive in a rapidly evolving educational landscape.

"The collaboration between Imam Abdulrahman bin Faisal University and the University of Turku stands as a testament to our shared commitment to excellence in higher education. By joining forces, we have not only advanced our own teaching and learning practices but have also contributed to the broader landscape of higher education. This partnership underscores our dedication to fostering innovation and embracing best practices, serving as a model for institutions worldwide striving for academic excellence," says Dr. Mohammed Saleh Alkathiri, Dean of Academic Development at the IAU 

Advancing innovative teaching practices and professional development

Throughout their partnership, both universities have worked diligently to implement various initiatives aimed at infusing innovative methodologies into university curriculum. The partnership has included a range of activities, such as training sessions, open forum discussions, consultations, and cultural meetings. Concrete steps have been taken to implement innovative practices, such as project-based learning, across faculties at IAU.

Since 2021, the focus of the collaboration has been on IAU’s program Professional Fellowship in University Teaching & Learning (PFUTL) for Faculty Members. The PFUTL program is designed to provide faculty members in Saudi Arabia with advanced training and development opportunities in teaching and learning practices. Through the professional fellowship, faculty members gain access to development activities aimed at enhancing their pedagogical skills, fostering innovation in teaching methods, and promoting student engagement. QS Reimagine Education acknowledged the PFUTL as one of the most innovative initiatives in higher education across the Middle East in 2023.

The University of Turku has been involved in implementing the fellowship program in various ways, including the review of applicants' files and the organisation of both online workshops and on-site training sessions. In May 2023, the University organised a training session for the PFUTL participants. The session focused on cultivating employability skills among students to succeed in the professional world. The emphasis was placed on identifying the essential competencies required in the workplace and exploring methods to support their development throughout students' academic journey.

Pilvi Lempiäinen, Planning Officer at the University of Turku and one of the trainers, is pleased with the training sessions, highlighting the participants' enthusiasm for learning and exchanging ideas.

“The training sessions were very fruitful and the participants’ eagerness to learn and share ideas was visible throughout the workshops. It was great to see that during the sessions we were able to expand the view on employability skills; the Graduate Capital Model we presented, encompasses wide variety of competences and the framework evoked lively discussion on how to best support students for the future. The challenges seemed to be very similar to what we encounter here,” explains Lempiäinen.

In November 2023, the collaboration between the universities continued with an online session that introduced PFUTL participants to the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in education. Similarly, in February 2024, two separate sessions were dedicated to addressing the challenges and best practices associated in online learning and exploring AI's role in student assessment. The latter is part of a new collaboration initiative in which the University of Turku provides expert support for the implementation and development of the Certificate of Student Assessment Program.

Shared commitment fosters robust collaboration

The partnership between IAU and the University of Turku is a prime example of successful collaboration and shared commitment to educational advancement. The collaboration has been regarded as fruitful and mutually beneficial by those who have participated in its planning and implementation. Both universities are pleased with the progress that has been made and with the professionalism and expertise of all those involved.

"As we reflect on the achievements of our partnership with the University of Turku, we are energised by the significant progress we have made together in advancing educational excellence. Moving forward, we are committed to further leveraging our collaboration to pioneer innovative approaches to teaching and learning. Together, our shared vision for the future includes broadening avenues for faculty growth, fostering deeper academic partnerships, and continuing to enhance the educational experience for all. Together, we are poised to shape the future of higher education and enrich our communities for prosperity," says Dr. Ghazi A. Alotaibi, Vice President for Academic Affairs at the IAU.

Ari Koski, Key Account Manager at the University of Turku, highlights the mutually advantageous aspect of the collaboration.

“The partnership with IAU has provided valuable perspectives and insights for our University. Through sharing our knowledge and expertise, we have gained valuable knowledge and experiences in different learning environments and settings. In Finland, teaching and learning methods are evolving in response to factors such as demographic shifts, increasing number of International students and technological advancements. International experiences from different cultures are highly beneficial in addressing these challenges,” Koski elaborates.

Created 12.04.2024 | Updated 12.04.2024