NYU to take global view in recruiting top students

The university is understood to be planning to ask about 500 institutions to nominate their best students to apply for admission.

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ABU DHABI // New York University will recruit students for its proposed Abu Dhabi campus from hundreds of the world's top secondary schools, according to reports. The university is understood to be planning to ask about 500 institutions to nominate their top students to apply for admission. University officials declined to comment because the recruiting strategy had not yet been finalised.

The university's student blog site, NYULocal, however, reported that the branch campus would recruit about 100 students from around the world for its first year. The university has said it will recruit from the US, Middle East, Asia and Europe, among other locales. Bob Turner of the Abu Dhabi Education Council's education department said NYU's policy of recruiting students globally was "about the process of building intellectual capital" in the city.

Bringing in top-flight students from overseas will generate a world-class institution that would ultimately be of greater benefit to young Emiratis. "Many students go elsewhere for higher education," he said. "When they see the opportunities in Abu Dhabi, they will see the opportunity to stay here as a natural pathway." The university's downtown facility, where it will launch degree courses in fall 2010 before moving to a permanent campus on Saadiyat Island, is under construction. It eventually will serve as many as 4,000 students.

Those accepted may receive financial aid. "No potential student should refrain from applying out of concern that he or she will not be able to afford the cost of attending," the university said in a statement on its website. "Students with the requisite talent will receive financial aid that will ensure that they will be able to attend." Abu Dhabi is financing the NYU project and the Paris-Sorbonne University facility, which is based in a temporary campus and will move to Reem Island this year.

NYU Abu Dhabi has said it would have full academic freedom and access to all source materials necessary for research. The university has also published with the Executive Affairs Authority of Abu Dhabi a "statement of labour values" to ensure fair treatment of workers building its campus. The statement requires that wages be paid and that workers should have at least one day off per week. Construction crews cannot work more than five straight hours without a break, and their breaks must total at least one hour.

Workers must be "treated with dignity and respect" and verbal abuse is banned. In a letter to NYU's student newspaper, Washington Square News, Dr Hilary Ballon, the deputy vice chancellor of NYU Abu Dhabi, said the statement was "but one example" of the university's philosophy. "We have also discussed this topic at length with our partners and we will be working closely with them to ensure the highest possible quality of labour standards for those who will be working on the NYU Abu Dhabi campus," she said.

dbardsley@thenational.ae