Many American universities have established satellite campuses in Doha, Qatar. These colleges promote academic freedom, and they feature world-class facilities that are totally on par with their American counterparts. Qatar is fully funding these colleges in order to educate its citizens. The program has largely earned Doha the nickname of “Education City”.
Many prestigious American colleges have taken part in the program. Some of the universities include Northwestern, Cornell, Carnegie Mellon, Georgetown, Texas A&M and Virginia Commonwealth. All the universities are required to do is construct programs that are equivalent to the ones they offer in America and award degrees featuring their names.
Over the past 15 years, the extremely wealthy nation of Qatar has spent billions on the program. Every year, the six universities receive more than $320 million each to promote higher education in the country. As a result, Qatar is allowing its citizens to receive a top class education without leaving their home country.
While American colleges and universities have been running satellite campuses throughout the world, Education City represents perhaps the single most prominent example of this trend. It just goes to show the effect that rapid globalization is having on the academic world.
However, there is some concern. While Qatar is considerably more socially progressive than the rest of the Middle East, it is still a culturally conservative society that takes Islamic law very seriously. Allowing its citizens to obtain a Western-influenced education could potentially cause unrest.
Also, the universities are putting their own reputations on the line. If the Qatar programs fall short of American standards, their own names will suffer. Not to mention, many Americans aren’t exactly thrilled with the idea of American universities supporting education in the Middle East.
Still, representatives of the universities have defended their decision, saying that they are helping to promote common good in the region. They believe that they are taking proper steps to better the world as a whole.
As of the fall semester, about 2,000 students are enrolled in the American Qatar universities. These students pay roughly the same tuition rates as American students, though they do receive grants from the government. However, acceptance rates are somewhat higher than in America.
And the universities haven’t sold out on their beliefs in Qatar. For instance, Georgetown University, which is Catholic, has retained its official Jesuit status in Qatar. However, Georgetown professors have insisted that their Qatar college in not a church.
The colleges in Qatar have deep international roots. For instance, students attending the Georgetown campus hail from places like Oman, Mexico, Iraq, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Lebanon, just to name a few countries.
Altogether, the six universities have awarded more than 2,250 degrees in Qatar so far. The vast majority of the graduates have moved on to live very successful lives, with many going on to attend prominent graduate schools.
There are some differences between college life in Qatar and the United States. At Qatar colleges, alcohol is uncommon, and fraternities and sororities don’t exist. However, the students in Qatar certainly find other ways to have a good time. They join student clubs, and they play sports such as soccer, cricket and basketball. The schools also feature the same mascots as their American counterparts.
Indeed, school spirit and pride is still a big part of student life in Qatar. So while there might be some debate as to whether or not such American colleges should exist in a country like Qatar, the students are certainly having a good time and bettering themselves. Ultimately, Qatar should be respected for trying its best to prepare its young people for the future.