The Beginning of Higher Education in Bahrain
Post-school education in Bahrain began with the inception of an Institute for Male Teachers (1966) and an Institute for Female Teachers (1967), in order to prepare the teaching staff for Bahrain’s schools, which witnessed great growth. As in 1968, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman and Abu Dhabi established a technical college named “Gulf Technical College” to teach engineering and administrative disciplines to the people of these four countries.
In 1976, the School of Nursing, which used to enroll those wishing to regularly study nursing disciplines, became the “College of Health Sciences” and was affiliated with the Ministry of Health, and it became the first college in the Gulf Cooperation Council to offer this type of education.
In 1978, teachers’ institutes switched to offering broader programs under the sponsorships of UNESCO, which participated in the development of academic programs to establish the “University College of Sciences, Arts and Education”, and they began to offer bachelor’s degrees and higher diplomas, especially in educational sciences. Also, the Department of Physical Education at the College of Education was the first department of its kind in the region.
In turn, the Gulf Technical College grew, making it necessary to upgrade its programs and offer a bachelor’s degree. The College made a qualitative leap in the programs in terms of numbers and specializations, as it included an engineering department and a business administration department, and starting from 1981 its name became “Gulf Technology College”.
Moreover, there was a continuous need in Bahrain to establish a university, especially after the academic experiences grew, and it became clear that it was ready to move to another new experience, leading to the promulgation of the Emiri Decree No. (12) on 24 May 1986 on establishing the University of Bahrain (UoB) by merging the Gulf Technology College and the University College of Sciences, Arts and Education.
The University started with four colleges: Sciences and Arts, Business Administration, Engineering, and Education, and in the year 1991, “Science and Arts” was divided into two independent colleges, and the number of students joining the University began to increase with a corresponding increase in the confidence of the labor market with all its sectors in the University’s graduates.
New Century Developments
In 2002, the Department of Law at the College of Business Administration was developed into the “College of Law”, especially after the major renaissance in the legal and rights aspects that the Kingdom of Bahrain had witnessed. After the year (2003), specializations and departments were developed in the College of Science to establish a new college “College of Information Technology”, due to the need for a subspecialty in information technology, as the need for such specialization was essential.
The official directions to achieve Bahrainization in the labor market require the provision of technicians and local professionals in various professions in order to be able to compete successfully. This led to the establishment of the College of Applied Education in the year 2005, to provide the local market with qualified technical and practical cadres in many divisions that the country urgently needs.
As a result of the development of education in the Kingdom of Bahrain, a new model for teachers’ qualifications was necessary, as teachers are the cornerstone of education development. Therefore, the College of Education became “Bahrain Teachers College” in 2008, based on the Singaporean National Institute for Teacher Education, and the Physical Education Department merged into the College of Health Sciences, which joined UoB in the year 2011, to add another dimension to the University with its long experience in the field of higher education.
Growth and Expansion
In these years, UoB witnessed a steady growth at all levels, in terms of the number of professors sponsored by the University to obtain higher degrees from all continents, in addition to forming supporting deanships after the first ten years from the University’s establishment, creating the Deanship of Admission and Registration, the Deanship of Student Affairs, and the Deanship of Postgraduate Studies and Scientific Research. Also, in its beginnings, UoB was confined to one headquarters in Isa Town, while today it has three campuses: Sakhir (the main campus), Isa Town (engineering) and Salmaniya (health and sports sciences).
And despite the emergence of many national, private and foreign universities, UoB continues to attract approximately 70% of high school graduates each year, as the number of registered students is nearly thirty thousand, and its programs are trusted by the Education and Training Quality Authority, and international accreditations such as engineering, information technology, science and business administration programs, and work is underway to achieve other programs’ accreditations.
Since the inception of UoB, female students at the University have constituted more than 65% of the student body, which includes a variety of nationalities coming from the Gulf Cooperation Council and Arab countries in addition to Bahrainis, as well as students from several continents. The same goes for academics, as non-Bahraini academics constitute about 25% of the professors, allowing students to interact with different types of schools of thought and multiple cultures in an open environment that welcomes this diversity and interaction.
With the passage of years, the experience of university academics increased, and their giving doubled, as the research production 30 years ago (1992) amounted to 166 research papers per year, while the research published by UoB in scientific journals in 2020 reached 465 papers.
Some of UoB’s unique features are the integrated infrastructure, including 300 classrooms, 30 multi-purpose halls, six libraries, a number of food courts and cafeterias, prayer rooms, and student rest halls. Also, the Deanship of Student Affairs offers a diverse package of annual and seasonal sports, cultural, artistic and entertainment activities and events, offers free lockers and free transportation for all students, takes care of students with disabilities, and prepares students to become leaders. Furthermore, the University has a Business Incubator that offers well-measured programs to motivate the University’s students and staff to learn what entrepreneurship means, develop ambitions and provide numerous aspects of support for students to start their projects and navigate through this vast world.
UoB is proud to offers 103 academic programs today, including diploma, bachelor’s, higher diploma, master’s, and doctorate programs, taught by professors who have obtained higher degrees from the most prestigious universities in the world, and supported by a professional administrative team whose mission is to make the practical and life experience of students and professors at UoB exceptional.
Proud of our Alumni
It’s worth noting that the public and private sector institutions in the Kingdom of Bahrain have UoB graduates as their first choice from graduates of local and foreign universities for employment. Since its establishment, the University has graduated nearly seventy thousand students, who have contributed effectively in all sectors, and a large number of them that have held high-ranking positions in their occupations.