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EDUCATION REPORT - Studying at an American University, Just Not in the US

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This is the VOA Special English Education Report.

This week in our series on American higher education, we discuss programs that are available in the Middle East.

We talked last week about Michigan State University which opened a campus in August in the United Arab Emirates. MSU Dubai offers undergraduate degrees in areas including business, engineering, education and telecommunications. It also offers some graduate programs.

This October, Michigan State plans to open a pre-college program -- the MSU Dubai Academy. The aim is to help foreign students prepare to attend an American school.

A lecture hall at Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar
A lecture hall at Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar

Other American universities with campuses in the Middle East include Carnegie Mellon, Cornell, Georgetown, Northwestern, Texas A&M and Virginia Commonwealth. They have campuses in Qatar. New York University plans to open a campus in Abu Dhabi in two thousand ten.

But the worldwide economic downturn is affecting the plans of some schools. For example, earlier this year Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania suspended its plans to open a campus in Abu Dhabi.

And George Mason University in Virginia is closing its campus in Ras Al Khaimah, another of the United Arab Emirates. One reason is the recession. But the campus Web site says that several issues made it impossible for the university to offer the same quality education as in the United States.

University Provost Peter Stearns tells us that the effort failed largely because of a dispute with their local partner in the campus. The disagreement involved the operating budget and academic control.

The George Mason campus opened in two thousand six. But student numbers have been disappointing. Peter Stearns says the campus had between two hundred fifty and three hundred students this year. He says more than fifty of them hope to attend the home campus in Fairfax, Virginia, in September.

And he says George Mason will remain involved in education in the Middle East as an adviser to the American University in Dubai.

The Harvard Medical School Dubai Center was launched in two thousand four. It offers professional development and postgraduate training but no degree programs. Harvard says it has no plans for a campus, but wants to help Dubai develop its Academic Medical Center.

And that's the VOA Special English Education Report, written by Nancy Steinbach. Earlier reports in our Foreign Student Series are at www.unsv.com. I'm Steve Ember.

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