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University in the UAE
Some university branch campuses are thriving in the UAE, expanding course offerings to meet rising demand, while others are closing and laying off staff. Kipp investigates.
July 28, 2010 5:27 by kippreport
Earlier this month, the Dubai branch of Michigan State University announced it would close shop after a brief two-year run. The news prompted politically conservative American commentator, Debbie Schlussel, to post a story on her website, sarcastically titled “Dubai-Bye: US University’s Dubai Campus a Failure, Closes.”
“Today, the school announced the campus was a big failure, and it is closing,” Schlussel said. “So sad, too bad,” she lamented.
Less generous observers are branding MSU’s brief Dubai experiment a “failure,” but at the same time competing university branches in Dubai are flourishing. Michigan’s dismal showing contrasts starkly with the track records of branch campuses of other Western universities in Dubai — many of which are expanding course offerings to meet rising demand.
As Michigan struggled to attract a few hundred students — the school numbered a student body of just 85, far less than the 400 students expected — competitor branches attracted so much interest that they are now constructing new facilities to accommodate student bodies nearly fifty times that number.
Scotland’s Heriot-Watt University is set to begin construction on a new campus facility, as the school looks to expanded course offerings, including new PhD programs. The expansions are expected to accommodate a student body three times the size of its current enrollment — up to 4,500 students. Other success stories include the Dubai branch of Australia’s University of Wollongong, which last semester enrolled an estimated 2,500 students, the school’s largest student body to date. And London’s Middlesex University branch continues to thrive, announcing it would award its 1,000th degree in 2010.
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