Contributed by Advance 360 Education
Dr. Francisco Marmolejo, President of Higher Education at Qatar Foundation (QF), oversees an ecosystem of eight prestigious universities' support & coordination activities. The Foundation offers more than 70 undergraduate & graduate programs to students from 60 countries at its Education City campus in Doha, Qatar, the largest campus of its kind globally. His work in higher education has taken him to more than 90 countries over the past three decades.
Before joining QF as Education Advisor in 2020, Dr. Marmolejo spent eight years working for the World Bank. During his tenure there, he held positions including Global Head of World Bank’s Solutions Group on Higher Education, Lead Higher Education Specialist for India & South Asia and Leader of the Higher Education Governance Benchmarking Project in the Middle East & North Africa region.
During his time at the University of Arizona (1995-2002), Dr. Marmolejo served as the Founding Executive Director of the Consortium for North American Higher Education Collaboration & Assistant Vice President & Affiliated Researcher at the Center for the Study of Higher Education. However, his experiences in higher education extend much further, having also been an America Council on Education Fellow at the University of Massachusetts, an Academic Vice President of the University of Americas in Mexico & an International Consultant at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation & Development.in Paris & a member of the International Association of International Educators Board of Directors, among other experiences.
In this episode of The EdUp Experience Podcast, Dr. Francisco Marmolejo joins EdUp to discuss what makes the Qatar Foundation such a unique & forward-thinking player in the education industry, the holistic nature of education at QF & how collaboration can help shape an even brighter future for education.
A Global Ecosystem Committed to Enhancing Educational Experiences
Dr. Marmolejo describes Qatar Foundation (QF) as “an umbrella of over 50 organizations in the education sector from kindergarten to doctoral education.” Founded more than 30 years ago by Sheikh Hazma, QF partners with several prestigious universities, including Carnegie Mellon, Texas A&M University, Georgetown University, Northwestern University, Virginia Commonwealth University & Cornell University, each of which has a campus at QF’s Education City in Doha. The Foundation’s mission is to bring top-tier academic institutions together for more effective collaboration & to help shape the future of education. A disruptor in its space, QF is committed to exploring unique ways to enhance the overall educational experience for students, in & out of the classroom, while still providing students with the benefits of traditional higher education.
Disruption Through Holistic Educational Experiences
The QF President of Higher Education suggests, “The most important part of the educational experience is not only to learn about a particular profession & develop its respective skills. It’s about providing students with a more holistic educational experience that provides them with the life skills to be successful well after college.”
Accordingly, QF has developed a unique program aimed at meeting that objective. The Universal Skills Passport (USP) creates meaningful learning opportunities for students beyond a traditional curriculum. For instance, the USP allows students to add micro-credentials to their professional portfolios, equipping them with more than simply a diploma. However, the USP is merely one aspect of the unique holistic education at QF. With the QF serving elementary school students through those pursuing higher education, the Foundation is able to build an entire educational pipeline that allows it to start exposing students to a holistic educational experience beginning in elementary school. Even more, a single campus serves all QF students, Education City. Located in Qatar, where only 250,000 out of 3 million residents are from Qatar, QF provides students with a holistic education in a truly global learning community.
Challenging Assumptions, Building the Future of Education
One of the defining characteristics of QF is its willingness, if not mission, to challenge assumptions about education, a notion that higher education as a whole has been resistant to over time. Dr. Marmolejo points out, “It’s okay to challenge our assumptions about education & ask ourselves questions like why are we do things a certain way and whether there potentially may be a different, more effective way.” Challenging the status quo in the realm of education and thinking outside the box can help shape the future of education.
The Advance 360 Education Perspective
The holistic approach QF takes with their partner institutions will set up their students to have a more well-rounded knowledge & the ability to contribute in different spaces in society than just their profession of choice. When people take the opportunity to learn skills or information beyond their profession, it adds more value to their communities. People with a more holistic education may be more likely to get involved with leadership roles & volunteering in their community which can increase their quality of life. This model also encourages those people who have had a holistic education to continue to challenge how higher education is facilitated.
We whole-heartedly agree with Dr. Marmolejo that it is important to challenge what we think we know in higher education. If we don’t explore new or different ways of thinking or approaching education, we risk becoming stagnant or falling behind as a people. Higher education is constantly evolving & institutions or organizations that don’t take the time to challenge how education is facilitated are surely to be left behind for those working to stay ahead of the curve & take an innovative approach. This has already been happening for many years, yet resistance continues. We appreciate the mission & work QF has done & expect the world will continue to benefit from their efforts. ____________________________________________________________________________________
Listen to the entire conversation with Dr. Marmolejo to hear more about the work of the Qatar Foundation:
Episode 221: The Universal Skills Passport
To learn more about the EdUp Experience, please visit edupexperience.com. To stay up-to-date on the latest podcasts, go to edupexperience.com and subscribe via your favorite podcast player.
Feel free to share this article and associated podcast episode with your colleagues in the higher education community.