Qatar Education City’s key institutions

18 September 2009

The courses offered at the disparate institutions represented at the Doha site cover areas in which there are significant skills shortages, as well as subjects seen as vital to modernisation and cultural change.

Virginia Commonwealth University - The first university to open in Education City, specialising in art and design.

Weill Cornell Medical College - Patient care and biomedical research complement the college’s degree programme.

Texas A&M University at Qatar - The Doha campus offers courses in engineering and science.

Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar - Training in entrepreneurship is on offer at one of Education City’s most attractive buildings.

Georgetown University School of Foreign Service - Spiritual inquiry is central to the university’s programme.

Northwestern University in Qatar - Print and broadcast media are seen as drivers of change in the region.

Qatar Faculty of Islamic Studies - As the only homegrown institution at Education City, QFIS is in a unique position.


Virginia Commonwealth University

The US arts school was the first university to set up a branch at Qatar’s Education City site, in 1998, offering courses specifically designed to appeal to female students

When the winner of the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe horse race steps up to the podium to collect his prize in Paris in October, the jockey will be presented with a trophy designed by a student from Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar (VCU-Qatar).

VCU-Qatar was the first university to set up at Education City, accepting its inaugural class of 136 students in 1998. The trophy competition is just one example of several community projects VCU-Qatar undergraduates have been involved in since then.

Students have also designed uniforms for the Qatar military and the Qatar Symphony Orchestra, and the university was invited to design the logo for Doha’s 2016 Olympic bid in 2008.

VCU-Qatar offers bachelor of fine art degrees in fashion, graphic and interior design, with each course lasting four years. The cost to study at VCU is QR33,917 ($9,314) a semester, which does not include accommodation, books and materials. In the 10 years since VCU-Qatar opened its doors, more than 230 students have graduated from the university.

Female students

VCU-Qatar is a branch campus of the VCU School of Arts in Richmond, Virginia, US, which was established in 1838 and is ranked as the leading visual arts and design programme in the country.

The Qatar Foundation for Education, -Science & Community Development was -especially keen for VCU to open a campus in Doha as it wanted to offer a course that would appeal to female students.

Until 2007, male students were not allowed to apply to the university. All the 51 students who graduated from VCU-Qatar in the summer of 2009 were female, and of these, 34 were Qatari nationals.

In the 2009 academic year, 17 male students and 199 females will be enrolled on design courses at VCU-Qatar. This figure includes 62 new starters, 31 of whom will be Qataris, with four of the eight males in the new intake Qatari nationals.

The university has launched two new courses for the 2009 academic year: a bachelor of fine arts degree in painting and print—making, and a master of fine arts degree in design studies.

This is the first such master’s degree to be offered in the region. The master’s degree is a two-year programme for full-time students or a three-year, part-time programme. Five students have enrolled for this first master’s degree, and they will receive individual mentorship from VCU staff.

Teaching at VCU-Qatar is carried out by 37 full-time staff and nine adjunct faculty members. The university houses a 17,000-volume library and a 450-person state-of-the-art auditorium, which includes a video wall made up of 16 rear-projection screens.

Video cameras are embedded within the walls and ceiling so that events can be recorded and even broadcast in real time over the internet. VCU-Qatar’s facilities are currently being extended to provide accommodation for the new master’s programme.

The university’s philosophy is that design should be a catalyst to promote not only innovation but also harmony within society. In addition to the degree programmes, the university runs adult education classes. These include courses on watercolour painting, woodwork and furniture design, eco-friendly home furnishings and Islamic art, along with tuition on how to use Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator computer programmes.

The funds raised by these courses are donated to the university’s scholarship fund. The university also holds an annual fashion show and regularly stages exhibitions of students’ work in its on-site gallery.

Graduates from VCU-Qatar have gone on to work in the private sector or set up their own fashion businesses, while others are working at Al-Jazeera Kids Channel, Qatar’s National Olympic Committee and the country’s Islamic Museum.

Key Numbers

34 - Number of Qatari nationals who graduated from VCU-Qatar this year

230 - Total number of graduates in the 10 years since VCU-Qatar opened its doors in 1998

$9,314 Tuition fee per semester to study at the university

Weill Cornell Medical College

The Cornell University-affiliated college produced Qatar’s first four homegrown doctors in its 2008 graduation class after setting up in the country in 2001

The graduation of 15 medical students from the Weill Cornell Medical College Qatar (WCMCQ) in May 2008 was a historic occasion. Qatar’s National Vision 2030 calls for the creation of a skilled national workforce capable of providing high-quality health services, and last year’s graduates included the country’s first four home-grown doctors.

The campus at Education City was established under a joint venture of the US Cornell University, one of the elite Ivy League US institutions, and the Qatar Foundation for Education, -Science & Community Development in January 2001. The campus is a branch of the Weill Cornell Medical College in New York, founded in 1898. Weill Cornell is the first US medical college to offer its degree overseas. The college is part of Cornell University.

Like its counterpart in the US, the Qatar campus has a triple mission of education, patient care and research. It offers students a two-year pre-medical course followed by a four-year medical programme. Upon graduation, the students receive the Cornell University MD degree.

In August 2002, WCMCQ’s first lessons were taught in temporary facilities to 25 pre-medical students – students who want to study for a medicine degree but have to take a science-based bachelor degree first.

In the summer of 2003, the college moved to its permanent home at the Education City campus. The medical programme accepted its first intake of 16 students in September 2004, and the inaugural class graduated four years later. Of those, three have remained in Qatar, while the remainder have gone to the US to undertake hospital residencies or conduct research.

The pre-medical course reached full capacity for the first time in 2007, when 61 applications were accepted out of the 320 submitted.

In 2009, 17 students graduated from WCMCQ, 13 of whom were female and four male. Among these, 10 different nationalities were represented and just two were from Qatar.

Increasing the enrolment of Qatari nationals is a priority. In 2007, WCMCQ began offering a foundation course to bring students up to the level required to gain admission to the pre-medical programme.

In 2009, 19 Qatari students successfully completed the course. The college is experimenting with a three-year pre-medical programme to help more students gain access. In the 2009 intake, 13 students joined the foun-dation programme, while 60 have embarked upon the pre-medical programme. Tuition fees for this academic year are $37,750 for the pre-medical programme and $44,650 for the medical course.

Modern facilities

WCMCQ boasts state-of-the-art lecture halls and teaching laboratories. In June 2005, it opened a clinical skills centre where students can experience working in a hospital and learn patient care techniques in six simulated doctors’ offices. There is also an e-library where students can access more than 16,000 items including journals, books and databases. The college’s research labs were opened in 2006 and in time will be joined by a vivarium – an enclosed area for keeping and raising animals or plants for observation or research.

The main teaching hospital for the college will be the $2.3bn Sidra Medical & Research Centre, which is under construction at Education City and scheduled to open in 2012. WCMCQ and Sidra will be connected by an underground walkway.

Teaching at WCMCQ is undertaken by 34 medical faculty staff resident in Qatar, 131 Hamad Medical Corporation affiliated staff and 20 pre-medical staff. About 15-20 per cent of lectures are streamed over the internet from the main campus and visiting professors visit from the US for one or two-week stints. Physicians from Qatar Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Hospital will start giving lectures this academic year.

In June 2008, WCMCQ launched a biomedical research programme to study diseases prevalent in the region, with $45m in funding from the Qatar Foundation.

Key Numbers

$2.3bn - Cost of the teaching hospital being builtand due to open in 2012

16,000 - Number of items held in the university’s electronic library for access by students

$44,650 - Annual tuition fee for the medical course at WCMCQ this year

Texas A&M University

The US university affiliate is helping Qatar in its battle with a chronic skills shortage and reliance on foreign expertise in its energy sector

With the oil and gas industry accounting for 62 per cent of Qatar’s gross domestic product, the Qatar Foun-dation for Education, -Science & Community Development was keen to offer engineering degrees at Education City. This goal was fulfilled when Texas A&M University at Qatar accepted its first 29 students in 2003.

The US university affiliate offers four-year bachelor of science degrees in chemical, electrical, mechanical and petroleum engineering, and the teaching programmes are identical to those at the main campus in Galveston, Texas. The Galveston campus was founded in 1876 as the Agricultural & Mechanical College of Texas and was the state’s first public institution of higher education. It adopted the name Texas A&M when it gained university status in 1963.

Six years ago, the university’s Qatar campus was established with just seven faculty members and five permanent staff. By the end of the 2008-09 academic year, the headcount had grown to 70 faculty members and more than 170 professional staff.

About 20-30 per cent of lecturers are on rotation from the Texas campus, while the others are recruited using the same selection process as the main campus, with both institutions having to approve the appointment. More than 100 engineers have graduated from the Qatar campus, including 57 students in May.

This most recent graduate class comprised 13 chemical engineers, 15 electrical engineers, seven mechanical engineers and 22 petroleum engineers. Almost one-third of graduates were women, while 39 were Qataris. The remainder were nationals of 10 different countries.

A total of 125 new students have enrolled for the 2009-10 academic year, including 46 Qataris. About 60 per cent are male.

The university received 1,500 applications for places on its engineering courses this year. The retention rate for new starters is about 87 per cent. In all, about 400 students will be studying at the university this academic year, half of them Qatari. Texas A&M has the highest enrolment of Qatari nationals of any Education City university.

Any Qatari students who fail the entry tests but are nonetheless deemed academically strong are given a second opportunity to gain access. They are invited to attend for two semesters and if they reach minimum scores and complete at least 24 hours of classes, they can become full-time students. Seven Qatari students gained access in this manner in 2007.

The university moved from its temporary accommodation in the liberal arts and science building to its permanent home in the engineering building in the summer of 2007. The 55,000-square-metre engineering building contains three lecture halls, 10 classrooms, 30 teaching labs and 32 research labs.

The move allowed the university to expand its library from about 1,000 volumes in 2005 to more than 8,000 today. It also provides access to 46,000 online journals, 650 databases and indices, and 444,000 electronic books. Texas A&M also runs a technical communications centre where students can improve their written and oral communications skills.

The future

The university plans to offer two postgraduate courses, and in the near future will be working with the Qatar Foundation to develop the programme. The annual charge for studying at the campus is QR63,500 ($17,400) for non-sponsored students and QR127,000 for sponsored.

Qatar has long suffered from a chronic skills shortage and needs international partners due to a lack of home-grown technology and expertise. Foreign companies in Qatar have also found it difficult to meet government quotas to encourage overseas companies to employ locals.

For this reason, the majority of Texas A&M students are sponsored by Qatari companies or international firms with operations in the emirate. Of the 30 students who graduated in May 2008, 21 went to work with local companies including state energy firms Qatar Petroleum, Qatar Gas and RasGas, petrochemicals company Q-Chem and Qatar General Electricity & Water Corporation (Kahramaa), or were employed by multinational energy giants.

Key Numbers

87 per cent - Retention rate for students starting courses at the university

1,500 - Applications for engineering courses at Texas A&M Qatar for this academic year

$17,400 - Annual charge for studying at Qatar campus for students without sponsorship

Carnegie Mellon University

In a stunning building designed by Mexican architects Legorreta & Legorreta, the US university runs a part-time entrepreneurship programme in addition to its bachelor of science degrees

There is a general consensus that Carnegie Mellon -University occupies the most beautiful building in the whole Education City -complex. Few first-time visitors to the building fail to be impressed by the design. Its architecture, the work of Mexico’s Legorreta & Legorreta, contrasts starkly with the humble origins of the main campus in the steeltown of Pittsburgh in the US.

Carnegie Mellon University dates back to 1900 when Scottish immigrant, industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie set up a technical and arts school to educate the children of steel mill workers employed by his firm, Carnegie Steel Company.

In 1967, the Carnegie Institute of Technology, as it became known, merged with the -Mellon Institute, which specialised in basic and applied research, to form Carnegie Mellon University.

Carnegie Mellon University Qatar offers four-year bachelor of science degrees in three subjects: business administration, computer science and information systems. The university opened in 2004 with an intake of 41 students – nearly 60 per cent Qatari citizens and 73 per cent female.

In May 2009, 36 students graduated from the university, 28 of whom studied on the business administration course, seven on the computer science programme and one on the information systems course. Fourteen nationalities were represented in this second graduating class, with 25 female graduates and 11 male.

For the 2009-10 academic year, Carnegie Mellon received 1,095 applications from prospective students, compared with 657 one year earlier. About 37 per cent of the applicant pool were Qataris. Some 235 applicants were offered a place at the university and in August, 92 students enroled. The incoming class comprises 52 females and 40 males, and includes 31 Qatari nationals. A further 25 nationalities are represented.

Some 43 students have joined the business administration course, 29 are taking degrees in computer science, and 20 are -studying information systems. The university has about 60 faculty members, 75 per cent of whom are permanently based in Doha, while the remainder are visiting lecturers on annual or one-semester contracts. Some 90 per cent of faculty members hold a doctorate or equivalent degree, and the student/faculty ratio is seven to one.

The majority of the teaching staff are recruited from the university’s home campus in Pittsburgh. The fees to study at the Qatar campus are about $40,000 a year.

After graduation

Carnegie Mellon students have been offered employment or internships with local companies including telecoms operator Qtel and state energy firms RasGas and Qatar Petroleum, as well as US energy majors such as ExxonMobil Corporation and GE, and technology firm Microsoft, all of which have offices in Doha.

In addition to its core degree programmes, Carnegie Mellon offers a nine-month, part-time -corporate innovation and entrepreneurship course. This is run in conjunction with the Qatar Science & Technology Park, a centre for developing and commercialising technology backed by the Qatar Foundation for Education, -Science & Community Development. The course is intended to equip entrepreneurs with the skills necessary to run a successful start-up business.

Carnegie Mellon had to wait for its building to be constructed. Ground was broken at the site in May 2006, two years after the university welcomed its first students. For three years, the university was based in the Weill Cornell Medical College building, and another year was spent in the liberal arts and science building. But 6,400 tonnes of steel and 38,283 cubic metres of concrete later, Carnegie Mellon took possession of its own building in the summer of 2008.

The 42,000-square-metre building spans three floors and contains more than 130 offices and workstations, a library, six lecture halls, classrooms, seminar rooms and a robotics laboratory. From 2010, Northwestern University in Qatar will temporarily occupy the second floor of the building while its own premises are being built.

Key numbers

73 per cent - Proportion of female students attending in 2004, the university’s first year

1,095 - Number of applications from prospective students for 2009-10

42,000 sq m - Floor space of the university building -designed by Legorreta & Legorreta

Georgetown University School of Foreign Service

The presence of the potentially controversial Catholic university at the Education City site is evidence of Qatar’s determination to modernise

The first lecture at Georgetown University School of Foreign Service in Qatar was given in 2005 by a Jesuit priest for a course entitled ‘The Problem of God’. The presence of Georgetown University at Education City, more than any other university, epitomises the Qatar Foundation for Education, -Science & Community Development’s deter-mination to modernise the country by pushing the boun-daries of education and showing willingness to court controversy to achieve this.

Georgetown, the main campus university in Washington DC, describes itself as “rooted in the Catholic faith and Jesuit tradition, committed to spiritual inquiry, engaged in the public sphere, and invigorated by religious and cultural pluralism”.

The decision to invite a Catholic university to open a campus in a region where religion can often be an inflammatory topic was a bold move. But although George-town initially hesitated to accept the opportunity to establish a present in Qatar, it says its religious heritage has ultimately proven to be a non-issue as its aim is not to convert, but to offer students a chance to reflect upon religion.

Overseas study

Georgetown’s Qatar campus offers a four-year undergraduate programme, which leads to a bachelor of science degree in foreign services. Students have the opportunity to major in international politics, culture and politics. Study abroad is an important component of the course and third-year students can spend a semester or a year at either the home campus in Washington DC or at a university in one of almost 40 countries with which Georgetown has agreements.

The university graduated its first 21 students in 2009, which included eight Qataris. In the September 2009 intake, 48 students joined the university. The student population currently numbers about 150, including 40 Qataris and 29 other nationalities. Some 65 per cent of students are female. Postgraduate studies are not yet available, but the university hopes to launch a master’s programme soon.

The university is currently based in the liberal arts and sciences building as its purpose-built facilities are still under construction. It expects to move into its new premises in time for the start of the 2010 academic year. The temporary building houses a 35,000-volume library, which is open to the general public. It is already the largest publicly accessible library in Doha, but over the next three years its capacity is expected to reach 120,000 volumes.

Most of the teaching staff are visiting lecturers from the main campus. Georgetown has a total of 38 faculty members, 29 of whom are retained on three-year contracts. The university makes frequent use of videoconferencing to enable classes to be taught simultaneously in the US and Qatar. Without this facility, some courses could not be offered at the Qatar campus because of the relatively low number of students. The average class size is 12 and there are four students for each faculty member.

The tuition fees are the same for both campuses. In the 2009-10 academic year, tuition at the Qatar campus cost $38,616. This rises by about 6 per cent a year and does not cover books or housing.

Georgetown University traces its roots back to 1789, the year the US constitution came into effect, when the US’ first Catholic bishop decided to set up a centre for learning in the capital. For the past five years it has ranked among the US’ top 25 universities.

Its mission statement commits to educating men and women “to live generously in service to others”. Students in Qatar are therefore encouraged to undertake volunteer work. This has included teaching English to workers at Education City.

The Doha campus is also home to a research institute known as the Centre for International & Regional Studies (CIRS), which regularly publishes papers and hosts conferences. CIRS is currently conducting studies on the flow of migrant labour in the Gulf and preparing to publish the results of a previous research initiative into international relations between the Gulf countries.

Key Numbers

150 - Current student population of the Qatar campus, 40 of whom are Qataris

$38,616 - Tuition fees for the 2009-10 academic year at both Qatar and US campuses

120,000 - Number of volumes that will be held in the university’s library within three years

Northwestern University

Education City’s newest university focuses on print and broadcast journalism, and its students are expected to play a key role in transforming Qatari society

Northwestern University in Qatar is the most recent addition to Education City, having launched its bachelor of science degrees in journalism and communication just over a year ago.

The Qatar campus is a branch of Northwestern University, which was founded in 1851 and has campuses in Evanston and Chicago in the US. Its school of communication was started when a Scottish immigrant established an elocution course in 1878. The school of journalism was founded in 1921 with a gift from the Chicago Tribune newspaper.

A total of 125 students applied to join the Qatar campus in its first year and the university opened with 39 students and nine faculty members. This inaugural class, which was made up of nine males and 30 females, will graduate in 2012.

Qatari students

In the university’s second intake in August, 36 students enrolled, 19 of whom are on the communication programme and 17 on the journalism course. Of these, 15 are Qatari citizens and the remainder are from 15 different countries. Six new faculty members have also joined this summer, four of whom transferred from the Evanston campus.

The university’s journalism course prepares students for careers in print and broadcast news media. It also teaches journalism ethics and law, along with media marketing. The communication programme offers courses on new media industries and communication technologies. It includes cinema and television-focused courses, which look at screenwriting, editing, lighting, cinematography and directing, as well as the history of film and broadcasting. There is also a course that looks at computer-mediated communication, covering web design, interactive media and computer animation, as well as online communities.

Northwestern plans to offer a preparatory programme in the near future to help school leavers reach the required academic level. As part of their degree, -students are required to complete an 11-week internship in a Northwestern newsroom, or with a professional media company in the US or the Middle East.

The university is currently housed in the engineering building at Education City along with Texas A&M University. Next year, however, it will move in temporarily with Carnegie Mellon University. Construction of Northwestern’s own premises is expected to start in January 2010, with completion scheduled for 2013.

Graduates from the university are expected to play an important role in transforming Qatar into the mature, modern and engaged society the country’s leader hopes for, through their involvement in developing local film, television, radio and web-based media.

“A vibrant, healthy media scene will bring about greater transparency and accountability, and these are all hallmarks of successful, participative societies,” said Abdulla bin Ali al-Thani, vice-president for education at the Qatar Foundation for Education, -Science & Community Development, when the agreement with Northwestern University was signed in 2007. “They are not qualities for which our region is well known internationally, but they are essential to the implementation of the vision of releasing and developing human potential for the common good.”

The Qatari leadership demonstrated its ambitions to develop an effective media sector when Doha-based news broadcaster Al-Jazeera was set up in 1996 with a $150m grant from Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani.

The Qatar Foundation has also undertaken its own broadcasting initiatives, funding the Doha Debates, which have aired on the UK’s international television channel BBC World News since 2004, and are filmed at Education City. The Qatar Foundation is also behind the Al-Jazeera Children’s Channel and Baraem TV.

The arrival of the Northwestern University campus will equip Qatar with a key instrument of change: a steady stream of US-educated graduates eager to further the country’s social development and prepared to push for greater openness and public debate.

Key numbers

15 - Qatari citizens on communication or journalism courses at Northwestern

39 - Number of students attending as the university opened

125 - Number of applicants to Northwestern University in Qatar for its first year

Qatar Faculty of Islamic Studies

The higher education facility is distinct from the other campuses at Education City as the only homegrown institution, offering courses in both Arabic and English

The Qatar Faculty of Islamic Studies (QFIS) is distinct from the other higher-education establishments at Education City in that it is not a satellite of a US university and all programmes are offered in both Arabic and English.

QFIS began offering its general diploma in Islamic studies in 2007. The following year, it launched its master of arts programmes in public policy in Islam and Islamic studies, with specialisation in contemporary fiqh (Islamic law, a broader concept than sharia law), along with a diploma and master of science in Islamic finance. The courses are all two years long.

In May this year, the first four students graduated from QFIS, although none was Qatari. “QFIS is different from the other institutions at Education City in that most of us already have degrees and careers and we come in the afternoon to take the courses,” says Joud Shafiq, the sole female to graduate from QFIS this summer.

Shafiq studied for a diploma in Islamic studies and is now teaching a course in Islamic culture at another university in Qatar. Jordanian by birth, Shafiq lived in Canada for 18 years before moving to Qatar four years ago with her husband, who works at Doha-based international news broadcaster Al-Jazeera. The students at QFIS have diverse educational backgrounds. Some have doctorates in subjects including genetic engineering and mechanical engineering, while others are alumni from the Education City universities.

QFIS received more than 700 applications for the 2009-10 academic year from prospective students of 44 different nationalities. QFIS has three full-time professors, two visiting professors and seven associate and assistant professors. The professors have doctorates from universities in the UK, the US, India, Egypt, Canada and Morocco.

“The programme is wonderful,” says Shafiq. “They really hand-pick the faculty and you could not really get access to these people otherwise. The classes are small, sometimes just two people, so you really get their attention and quality interaction with the teacher.”

QFIS soon hopes  to launch two new master of arts programmes in religion and contemporary thought, and contemporary muslim studies, as well as a master of science in Islamic urban planning and architecture.

QFIS offered 25 scholarships to international students for the 2009-10 academic year. A total of 10 scholarships are offered by Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, five of which are for a masters degree in Islamic finance, and five for a general diploma in Islamic studies.

Ten scholarships are offered by Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser al-Missned, consort of the emir, five for a masters degree in public policy in Islam and five for a masters degree in Islamic studies, with a specialisation in religion and contemporary thought.

Finally, the Sheikh Youssef al-Qaradawi scholarships offer funding for five students to study for a masters degree in Islamic studies, with a specialisation in contemporary fiqh. Funding covers tuition fees, housing, recreation, phone, internet, a health plan and -transport.

International links

QFIS is seeking membership of the League of Islamic Universities, a grouping of 100 universities in Arab and Muslim countries.

When QFIS opened in 2007 it was co-located with the Qatar Academy at Education City, but the faculty has since moved into the liberal arts and sciences building. This is also a temporary home while its own purpose-built premises are constructed.

QFIS describes itself as an international centre for Islamic thinking and dialogue, and says its aim is to inspire thought and action based on the plurality and tolerance of Islamic law and civilisation in order to enable muslims to face contemporary challenges.

“They also teach in a way that is more connected with life – it is not just theory,” says Shafiq. “I had read a lot in this area when I was in Canada, but it is really different when you sit down with someone who is really into it. I found it very enriching.”

Key numbers

25 - Scholarships offered in the 2009-10 academic year to international students

44 - Number of different nationalities ofstudents applying for 2009-10

700 - Applications received from prospectivestudents for the current academic year

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