New college campus on track for next year

Space urgently required by university, which reached capacity and now needs funding for fit-outs.

New grounds for learning at RAK Women's College.
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RAS AL KHAIMAH // Students at Ras Al Khaimah Women's College will have a new Dh100 million campus in use next year.

The new block will add 53 classrooms and laboratories to the existing 75 and is due to be ready for the start of the academic year in September.

The existing campus, built 18 years ago, will remain in use, along with the temporary classrooms that surround it.

"We're at capacity now and we must expand," said Dr Bob Moulton, the director of the college.

The campus was funded by Emirates Real Estate Corporation on the orders of Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid, the Vice President.

The college, part of the Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT), now needs to secure funds to furnish and equip the new block.

"We will need around Dh30 million to Dh40 million to fit the campus out," said Jiju Philip, the facilities co-ordinator. "Every classroom will have smartboards and an AV [audio-visual] projector."

But Mr Philip said the project, which began in June last year, was well on track.

Designed by Dewan architects, the 1,500-capacity campus will offer students many more facilities, including a sports centre, a larger library, a cafe and a 600-seat lecture theatre that will be shared with the men's campus.

"Even the classes and offices will be bigger," said Mr Philip.

The women's college offers four degrees, in IT, teaching, business and creative media.

It is more than twice the size of the RAK Men's College, which has 600 students.

"We really need the space now so we'll keep some of the programmes at the old campus and have some at the new," said Dr Moulton.

It is not the only women's institution needing expansion. Zayed University's Dubai campus is also at capacity but must first find the funding to expand.

It has the land to build the long overdue men's campus but not the money, and with 3,300 women and 400 men it may have no choice next year but to cut admissions.

Amal Al Qassimi, the supervisor of student services at RAK HCT, says the increase in numbers reflects women's growing demands for education in the emirate.

"The girls are aware of the growing need to get qualified and the importance of that in getting a good career," Mrs Al Qassimi said.

"There is increasing pressure on them to get jobs to help support their families and for this, they need to get educated." In the 15 years she has been working in women's colleges in the UAE, much has changed, she said. When she started, not all girls' families wanted them to go to college.

"In the past a career wasn't culturally accepted but now many families need the financial support," Mrs Al Qassimi said. "Also, more of the mothers are educated now and they relate an education with careers."

The need for an extra campus, she said, demonstrated RAK HCT's continuing importance.

"It's an important community to serve," Mrs Al Qassimi said.

"With the new facilities, like [those for] sports and leisure activities, the girls will have a much better quality of life on campus when they're in their free periods."

This article has been corrected since original publication. The amount required to fit out the campus is Dh30 million to Dh40 million, not Dh30,000 to Dh40,000 as The National was originally told.