Paris Sorbonne University aims to double student intake in Abu Dhabi

The new executive director of Paris Sorbonne University in Abu Dhabi hopes to double student intake to 1,500 by 2016.

New executive director of Paris Sobourbe University in Abu Dhabi, Prof Dr. Eric Fouache.
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ABU DHABI // Just a month into the job, the new head of Paris Sorbonne University in Abu Dhabi is already looking four years ahead.

Prof Eric Fouache was brought in to replace Prof Jean-Yves de Cara as executive director by the Sorbonne's newly elected president, Prof Barthélémy Jobert.

By 2016, when the French university's 10-year deal with the Abu Dhabi government is up for renewal, he needs to more than double student numbers, from the current 700 to 1,500. That deadline is already pressing. "In 2016 we have to be evaluated, though we do this every year and even month to month," said Prof Fouache.

"If we respect the timetable it's quite quick so my main challenge is to reach that target of 1,500."

He described the university's success in recruiting Emiratis, who make up a third of the total, as "something we are very proud of".

But he believed the Reem Island university, which opened in 2006, must reach out better to the community and be more open.

"In the past we were maybe not open enough but we will be more so." That will mean public events, conferences and debates. "I want Emiratis to know us and be able to better connect with us."

Eissa Al Raeesi, an Emirati who has worked at the university since 2007 as head of student affairs, agreed. "We need more cooperation between [university] departments and campaigns for students from overseas, especially those in the GCC and further afield."

Recently the university has visited countries such as Russia, Spain and Kazakhstan in its bid to widen recruitment, though its focus remained firmly on the UAE.

"We focus primarily on the UAE and its schools," he said, though he admitted that to reach target numbers, the UAE alone was not enough.

More courses should help. In 2013 a bachelor's in maths will the first of several science-based courses planned for the next two years.