Since the inaugural International Conference on Islamic Economics in 1976, there has been an increase in the number of institutions providing courses and programs in Islamic economics and associated fields including Islamic finance, management and accounting worldwide.
While the growing demand for qualified human resources is driving interest in the programs, it is important to remember that the philosophy of Islamic economics education as a ‘Ummatic project’ is ‘civilizational’ in nature, with the goal of making Islam and its worldview the central point of reference in all aspects of economic decision-making.
More staff is required to expand Islamic finance as education, research and training become more important. The shape and degree of instruction for distinct academic fields are primarily determined by the type of information and skills the market demands.
Education must keep up with the time. To satisfy the growing demand, education programs in Islamic finance were hastily devised. Because of the hurry, inappropriate curriculum frameworks and course designs emerged, and most of the research tends to be confirmatory. The scarcity of qualified instructors exacerbated the problem, forcing concessions on the quality of education. The gap between theory and practice was widening.
In many circumstances, teaching faculties lack the necessary expertise, scholarship and devotion. One explanation for this is because either the institutions offering Islamic finance programs are relatively new, or the courses have just been created in response to market demand.
Review of 2021
Southeast Asia continues to lead in Islamic finance research and teaching. As of 2019, 972 Islamic finance education providers and 379 Islamic finance degree providers are available. Indonesia, Malaysia, the UK, the UAE and Pakistan are the top countries with the most Islamic finance education providers in 2019.
Indonesia has the most Islamic finance education providers in the world. The Indonesian government’s Komite Nasional Economi dan Keuangan Syariah (KNEKS) has partnered with the School of Business and Management ITB to launch the Centre for Islamic Economy and Finance in May 2020 as part of a strategy to develop the human capital required by the country’s Islamic finance industry.
The center is divided into two sections: Islamic finance studies for human capital development and Islamic business studies for the growth of the Halal products and services industry.
In all, 214 universities and other educational institutions in Indonesia published Islamic finance research articles. The articles were supplied by the State Islamic University Syarif Hidayatullah Jakarta and Airlangga University, which accounted for 13% of the total. The Indonesian government’s goal to further promote the country’s already robust Islamic finance industry as part of its five-year economic masterplan is one of the main reasons for the vast number of educational institutions generating research papers.
Around 100 educational institutions in Malaysia published Islamic finance research papers, such as the International Islamic University Malaysia, Universiti Utara Malaysia and the International Centre for Education in Islamic Finance providing around 45% of them. Malaysia’s status as a leader in Islamic finance product development has made it a popular research topic for students.
The educational sector adapted to the ‘new normal’ faster than any other sectors. It was possible due to the advantages brought by technology and the existing infrastructure. In Islamic finance education, we experienced two new teaching modes of education in 2020. The first is the online mode which left a mark on 2020, and the second is a hybrid model.
Islamic finance online education brought several challenges as well as opportunities for students and lecturers. The plus side was that even though it was challenging, they got familiar with new technologies and learned to teach and learn from a distance.
However, all students and lecturers find traditional education to be more interactive, motivational and efficient. Therefore, the hybrid model of teaching was introduced later for the first time in the history of Islamic finance education.
Hybrid learning is an educational model where some students attend class in-person, while others join the class virtually from home. Meanwhile, blended learning combines in-person teaching with asynchronous learning methods, where students work on online exercises and watch instructional videos during their own time.
Lecturers find the hybrid mode more challenging compared with fully-fledged traditional or fully-fledged online education. The reason is that this mode requires a balanced approach toward both online and in-class students. In general, 2021 appeared to be the year of novelties in teaching methods. As Islamic finance educators and students, we were successful in adapting to both online and hybrid modes.
Preview of 2022
More and better skilled people will be required if the Islamic finance sector is to continue to expand and thrive. However, a key issue for the business has been a scarcity of job prospects for Islamic finance graduates.
Although Islamic financial organizations still prefer to recruit applicants with traditional banking expertise, their lack of familiarity with the special regulations that regulate Islamic finance typically needs further training.
As a result, several Islamic finance education providers have formed strategic agreements with Islamic financial institutions to provide job possibilities for graduates and training for current staff.
Instructors too may not always have suitable and sufficient understanding of what they teach when it comes to instructions. The PhD work — the quality of the dissertations and the contributions of the professors — leaves a lot to be desired.
In the coming years, the following challenges must be solved.
1. Lack of identification and unique explanation of program structures
2. Variation in program terminology
3. Program specialization options in both undergraduate and graduate programs
4. In crucial areas of Islamic economics, program domains are not specified
5. There are several differences in the Islamic economics core courses and mandatory electives, and
6. In order to promote worldwide recognized mobility, there is a lack of comparability for program recognition and certification among educational institution providers.
Dr Kamola Bayram is an assistant professor at KTO Karatay University, Turkey as well as a project consultant and advisor for project management at the International Council of Islamic Finance Educators. She can be contacted at [email protected]