Sam Dalla, the Rector of the Higher Institute of Business Administration (HIBA) talks to Syria Times:

  Getting Business Administration Right

Private institutes of higher education have been mushrooming  all over Syria since 2001. The first to operate was the Higher Institute of Business Administration- better known as HIBA. In a remarkably short period of time, this young institute has built a very prestigious reputation for itself all throughout Syria. This was mainly due to the  dedication of the staff and the quality, caliber and seriousness of the students. This could not have been achieved, however, if it were not HIBA 's solid curriculum, designed  in association with  several European Universities.

Sam Dalla , a dignified , proud, and wise man of letters has been a  rector of HIBA since 2009. He obtained  his doctorate at degree of  honor on “ judicial audition” from France. He served as a rector for the faculty of law at Aleppo University for four years and five years as a rector for the Institute of National Administration, INA in Damascus.

Dalla appreciated the value of education, and tries to inspire motivation among his students, telling them that dreams- no matter how seemingly difficult- are always within reach; they just need a strong will, a good education, and a high moral fiber. The following is  an exclusive interview with the Syria Times  about what HIBA has achieved  since 2001, even before he was its rector, and where it  stands today after four  years of operation since  he became HIBA 's rector in 2009.

HIBA has made a name for itself, boasting of first class graduates with a solid education a high moral fiber, along with talent and character. What about HIBA 's  "success story"

 HIBA was founded in 2001, as part of the Syria- EU Cooperation Agreement.  In Parallel, the Institute of National Administration, better known as INA  was established for qualifying  cadres  for higher positions. Our Ultimate  goal is to provide a continuous supply of qualified managerial people for both the public and private sectors.  We dealt with several prominent European Universities, among which was Dauphine  University- Paris. Moreover, HIBA has been given privileges and a special status by the Syrian government. It reports directly to the  Ministry of Higher Education with a status of University, not just an institute. It offers  programs that include  Business Administration( BA), Master in Business Administration  (MBA) and Executive Master in Business Administration, ( EMBA ).

Can HIBA compete  with the increasing number of private universities? Is HIBA able to Challenge  Damascus University?

Each of HIBA and Damascus University belong to different educational sectors. HIBA is specialized in business administration for profitable sectors. It is, therefore, a market oriented rather than academic or research oriented. This fact is reflected in its program design. We have  representatives from both the  private and public sectors on our  Board of Directors, mapping out the needs  of each sector. This means that there is no completion, rather an integration with Damascus university, since our inclination is different and the market is in continuous need  of graduates.

What about Saam Dalla nested contribution  at HIBA?

 It is mainly " skills" and the " transfer of experience" at an academic and administrative levels. HIBA played a key role in settling  experience, through project formulation and implementation. Such Experience transfer came from European Universities. The experience was " transferred" then settled in HIBA. And the idea behind  partnership with certain  European universities  was to share  common responsibility, as means for greater motivation.

We opened our doors up for  prestigious universities, including  the British Oakland Bristol  university, as one of the  best in the world  in offering Doctorate in Business Administration DBA  and for MBA's in Real Estate  Development and  Islamic Banks .

How  can HIBA deal with the current crisis in Syria ?

The solid  cooperation  HIBA had with European Universities  slowed down or even was halted  in the second year of the  crisis  during the academic year 2011-2012 , as  the Syria-EU academic cooperation was closely linked to a political  decision, especially from the French partners  who were very rigid over the arrival of  European professors , despite the Syrian side assurances  to secure their safety  and timely  payment transfer  . However, there is still an MBA  cooperation project  between HIBA and Spain ‘s  Barcelona  university.

We tried to compensate  for the income increase  in HIBA’s revenues which affects our budget capital .  An MBA for  private and public sectors directors was opened . Also opened  was another  Master in providing best management  for the telecommunication sector in collaboration with the ministry of  communications  and  large number  of cadres have been qualified as a fruit of an instant response from the side of ministry especially  from Minister Imad Sabouni.

At the  University level, number of enrolled  students  increased, despite the crisis,  and HIBA which maintains self  financial reliance  could manage to keep  quality control of its educational curricula and services .

Besides HIBA administration embarked  on exerting efforts  for having heavy presence  in the labor market  through conducting efficient courses for employees at the private sector ‘s banks, insurance  companies and tourism promotion centers ,  while  several courses were  carried out for  the General Commission for Investment, Damascus University and the Industrial Zones  personnel's.

 HIBA 's enrolment fees are  relatively high, compared  to the Syrian public sector universities , especially in MBA and EMBA fees ?

HIBA is a self-generating income  Institution, and does not receive any financial support from the  State general Budget.

Nevertheless, HIBA continues to attract , and this fact proves that  education is  particularly most honored in our  society. HIBA charges  600,000 Syrian pounds  for  the MBA and the EMBA. This sum is considered  cheap when  compared to fees paid in counterpart institutes  in Arab and European countries like Jordan, Lebanon, France or Britain . For example  HIBA 's same EMBA granted by the Saint Joseph University in Beirut .


Interviewed by:

Tomader Fateh