American University to set up in capital

Abu Dhabi campus will offer courses ranging from foundation programmes to vocational training and postgraduate degrees.

SHARJAH. 19th November. 2009. American University , Sharjah. Stephen Lock   /   The National   FOR STOCK.  *** Local Caption ***  SL-american-004.jpg
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ABU DHABI // The American University of Sharjah (AUS) is planning to expand to the capital next year. The move will make it the second American university in the capital, following the launch of New York University's Abu Dhabi campus last year.

Courses on offer will range from vocational training in subjects such as project management and professional development to postgraduate studies for those continuing on higher education. The courses will complement those already offered at the Sharjah campus, which include 13 postgraduate programmes as well as 26 majors and 42 minors at the undergraduate level. The location of the new campus has yet to be decided.

The campus will also offer preparatory classes for high school students hoping to enter further education. Currently, around 20 per cent of students attending AUS need foundation tuition for up to a year before they are ready to enter a bachelor's programme. Ali Shuhaimy, the vice chancellor for enrolment management at AUS, said such courses gave the students a "head start". "When students come to the university they end up needing preparatory work to get to the level we need, in a range of subjects from English to maths and personal development skills," he said.

The practice is common at universities across the country. About 94 per cent of students who join UAE University, Zayed University and the Higher Colleges of Technology require some preparatory work before starting a higher education course. The Ministry of Education wants schools to cover the material usually included in foundation programmes to save the universities time and money. Foundation programmes currently take up one- third of the teaching budgets of the three federal institutions.

Abu Dhabi was an important catchment area for AUS, said Mr Shuhaimy, with residents of the emirate already comprising 20 per cent of its 5,167 students. Should the new programmes prove popular, further regional expansion will be considered. AUS, which was established in 1997, topped the latest YouGov brand index charts for universities around the country, followed by Zayed University and the American University of Dubai.

Jean Yves de Cara, the executive director of the Paris-Sorbonne Abu Dhabi, said that the opening of more foreign universities in the capital was a good thing for students, as it encouraged the raising of standards. "I think that when there are several universities of the same quality it makes the place more attractive," he said.  "We are all trying to turn this emirate into an attractive region for education and research."