College to offer worldly wisdom

Keith Clark, the executive director of UWC, said a UAE campus had been under discussion for the past two years.

ABU DHABI // The Abu Dhabi Government is in talks to set up the fourteenth international campus of a world-renowned college in the capital.

United World College (UWC) is a pre-university school that offers a two-year diploma to students between 16 and 18 years of age. It uses scholarships and bursaries to attract applicants from 180 countries.

Education officials in Abu Dhabi said they plan to open a campus in the next four years to enable more Emirati students to gain an International Baccalaureate (IB) certificate while exposing them to a multicultural environment.

"With Abu Dhabi's journey towards being more integrated with world cultures, the campus will be a perfect gift for the pupils," said Dr Masood Badri, the director of research and performance management at the Abu Dhabi Education Council (Adec).

The IB diploma, considered one of the best secondary education qualifications in the world, covers science, maths, languages, humanities and the arts. At UWC campuses, the curriculum is not purely academic: students also learn international and intercultural understanding, compassion, the importance of voluntary work and respect for the environment.

Keith Clark, the executive director of UWC, said a UAE campus had been under discussion for the past two years.

"The partnership began with young Emiratis entering UWC, but [we are] potentially looking at a broader possibility of setting up a campus in Abu Dhabi," he said.

The UAE campus, which may be built on Delma Island west of the capital, will host both Emirati and non-Emirati students.

This year, to kick off the collaboration, Adec is sponsoring five Emirati pupils to complete their high school diploma at a current UWC campus.

"These pupils will be representing the UAE for the first time in these schools," Dr Badri said. "We are working towards building our very own UWC and the plan is to have it up and running in the next few years."

The Emirati students who have been selected for the two-year scholarship will be leaving next month.

Mustafa Abu Bakr will go to the US campus in New Mexico; Hamdan Mubarak Hatrash to the UK; Ahmed Mohammed to Costa Rica; Mohamed Amer to Italy; and Talal Bashir to Bosnia.

"It is an extraordinary school and all the people there are from different parts of the world," Mustafa said. "In our schools here, we are not exposed to so many cultures and this will be an opportunity to understand them."

"I will be starting a new life, living on my own," said Hamdan, who is looking forward to the arts and sports programmes at the college in south Wales. "I think it'll help me become more independent."

Paul Andrews, the manager of the private school division at Adec, who has been preparing the pupils, said they were chosen out of 15 applicants.

"The essential qualities of a UWC student are to be open-minded, curious and have a genuine interest in making a positive impact on society," he said. "These pupils have that, as well as the academic ability required. We plan to extend this and give out up to 12 scholarships from next year as part of the agreement."

Dr Bardi said the initiative would build the calibre of the country's university applicants. "This is our main concern and we know that the student output from these colleges is very high," he said. "Once they graduate, university offers will be on their doorstep."

 

aahmed@thenational.ae

Published: August 29, 2011 04:00 AM

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