The American system of higher education has long been the envy of foreign onlookers — that’s why the governments of many countries are inviting U.S. universities to open satellite campuses in their centers for higher learning, in hopes of adopting some of the U.S.’s best home-grown practices.
But it’s not just the foreign countries who benefit from the deal. In what the New York Times called an “educational gold rush,” U.S. universities are rushing to claim their turf in cities across the Middle East, East Asia and India.
Where these two aligning interests come together is at education hubs, such as Doha, Qatar’s Education City. When most people think of the Persian Gulf states, things like oil tycoons, casinos and over-the-top hotels come to mind. However, the government of Qatar has taken enormous strides to present the capital city as a regional center for education and research, as the home of the 14-acre hub of universities located on the city’s outskirts.
At Doha’s Education City, students from all around the Arab world can receive medical degrees from Cornell, computer science degrees from Carnegie Mellon, or journalism degrees from Northwestern, without the culture shock of moving, or the post-9/11 fight for a visa facing many Arabs who hope to study or work in the U.S.
Education City, an initiative of the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development, is home to some nine institutions of higher education, as well as primary and secondary schools. The campus is the brainchild of Mozah bint Nasser Al Missned, who had the idea to bring branches of several leading universities to a unified campus in Qatar, the first of which opened in 1998.
With regional advancement in mind, Education City was developed to teach students the skills considered critically important by the Gulf Cooperation Council, as well as a place where university researchers can build relationships with public and private sector colleagues.
The campus includes schools from six U.S. universities — Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar School of the Arts, Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar, Texas A&M University at Qatar, Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar, Georgetown University School of Foreign Service in Qatar, and Northwestern University in Qatar — École des Hautes Études Commerciales de Paris (HEC), the University College of London Qatar and Qatar’s Faculty of Islamic Studies.
But what’s in it for the U.S. universities? The opportunity to get ahead on the burgeoning trend of campus internationalization.
“Sometimes people ask: Why is Northwestern University in Qatar and not in China or India, for example,” Northwestern University in Qatar Dean Everette E. Dennis said in an interview upon the graduation of the school’s first class in May of this year. “Part of the answer is: Because Qatar’s leaders asked us to come. There was an invitation extended, and a determination was made that this had value for the University.”
The rise in opening overseas branches reflects a shift from sending students to semesters abroad or swapping faculty on research exchanges. Just as Dennis described Northwestern’s decision to open in Qatar because of the government’s invitation, so was New York University lured into opening its satellite campus in Abu Dhabi by a $50 million gift from investor Omar Saif Ghobash, according to the Times.
Collaborative urban research hubs are not unique to the Middle East. New York City approved plans in December 2011 to build a graduate campus for technology on Roosevelt Island, Cornell NYC Tech. The campus will be a partnership between Cornell University, which has its main campus in Ithaca, N.Y., and Haifa, Israel’s Technion Institute.
“We believe this new land grant can help dreamers and entrepreneurs from around the world come to New York and help us become the world’s leading city for technological innovation,” New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said when the campus was announced.
The city gave the university $100 million and a grant of city-owned land to help spur the $2 billion project, which will eventually facilitate 2,500 students. Beginning in Spring 2013, graduate engineering classes will be taught in a temporary location until the Roosevelt Island campus is complete.
How do you think cities can best facilitate education? Let us know what cities have to gain when they become education hubs in the comments.
Images courtesy of Flickr, Clint Tseng
Via Mashable: http://www.mashable.com