His Majesty King Abdullah on Sunday underlined the need to improve the quality of higher education to align educational outputs with labour market needs through a working plan and a “clear and practical” strategy. During a meeting with the presidents of public universities, the King stressed his support for achieving more independence for universities, encouraging scientific research and improving its outputs, according to a Royal Court statement. “Reforming the higher education sector in the Kingdom has been and is still a top priority,” the King added during the meeting, which was also attended by Prime Minister Marouf Bakhit, Royal Court Chief Khaled Karaki, King’s Media Adviser Amjad Adaileh and Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research Wajih Owais, the statement said. The coming stage is critical in the history of the country, the King told the meeting, as Jordan pursues its goals in various fields. He stressed the importance of “moving forward in the reform process to meet the aspirations of the Jordanian people”. The King said that economic and social reforms should be in line and in pace with political reforms within a comprehensive framework to achieve freedom, justice and equal opportunity. The university presidents outlined the challenges facing their institutions, mainly regarding their role in creating job opportunities for graduates, the declining quality of higher education, the need to upgrade teaching methods and enhance universities’ independence and the problem of indebtedness. They also highlighted the importance of developing study plans and programmes and improving the living conditions of faculty members to prevent brain drain.