Toward Virtual Universities in the Sultanate of Oman: Reality, Challenges and Perspectives

  • MN Al-Suqri


The advances in information and communications technologies (ICT) have made possible the development of virtual universities. On a global scale, virtual universities have been heralded as a way of reducing educational and socio-economic disparities between countries, as students can in theory access high quality education from around the world at relatively low cost. The objective of this paper is to consider the case for a virtual university in the Sultanate of Oman by examining the arguments for and against virtual universities, especially in the developing country context, and to assess the viability and potential benefits of this type of initiative for the Sultanate of Oman, taking into account the country’s levels of socioeconomic and technological development. The paper is based on secondary analysis of literature published internationally over the past fifteen years or so relating to virtual universities, particularly in the context of developing countries, as well as recent statistics and information pertaining to socio-economic and technological development in the Sultanate of Oman. The paper revealed that existing research evidence indicates that the implementation of a virtual university as a means of upgrading and diversifying the skills and knowledge of a population can effectively contribute to the economic development process. E-learning is already being successfully used in Oman’s small but well-developed higher education sector. The paper recommended that the Sultanate of Oman should continue expansion and upgrading of its ICT infrastructure; consideration should be given to establishing a network of Tele-centers to  increase population access to the Internet; and to implementing public marketing and awareness-raising campaigns to promote participation in the OVU.

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eISSN: 1596-5422