Qatar Foundation is to add one of Europe's top business schools to its mega-campus on the outskirts of Doha. Starting next year, the new Qatar branch of Hautes Etudes Commerciales (HEC) Paris will offer master's degree in business administration, as well as coursework in executive education and research programmes.
To inaugurate the programme, executives from Qatar and other countries in the region recently completed a two-week course on risk management, leadership and innovation. Mohamed Fathy Saoud, the president of Qatar Foundation, which funds the campus, said: "We are pleased with the inauguration of this partnership, by offering one of the most prestigious programmes of HEC Paris, for senior management in the industry and business community of Qatar and the region. HEC becomes our first French partner in the foundation's Education City."
Education City hosts the Qatar campuses of Weill Cornell Medical College, Virginia Commonwealth University, Texas A&M University, Georgetown University, Northwestern University and Carnegie Mellon University, all institutions based in the United States. HEC Paris signals an important shift.
Robert Baxter, the media adviser for Qatar Foundation, said: "That European influence is quite important. Many have said Education City is too American. This is a step towards our original concept to be an international educational community, a coalition of excellence from around the world." HEC Paris, established in 1819, is one of the oldest business schools in the world, known for its excellence. It has been rated as France's best for decades and has risen to international prominence in recent years.
The Financial Times newspaper in the UK has named HEC Paris the number one business school in Europe for the past four years, and last year it placed HEC Paris's Trium Global Executive MBA programme, part of an alliance with New York University's Stern School of Business and the London School of Economics, as the world's second best executive MBA course. Prominent HEC Paris alumni include Dominique Strauss-Khan and Pascal Lamy, current directors general of the International Monetary Fund and the World Trade Organisation, respectively.
For Education City, now 12 years old, the deal with a renowned graduate-level institution is a sign of growth. "We've matured to the stage that we're offering graduate programmes," Mr Baxter said. Education City's Weill Cornell Medical College offers medical school, and VCU-Qatar offers a master's degree in fine arts in design. HEC Paris will thus offer Education City's first graduate degree course not in medicine or the humanitites. It will also be the campus's first continuing education programme.
Mr Baxter said a full-time MBA programme remained a possibility, but the new school would be mainly for part-time students, including working executives, who can take an evening course in areas such as marketing, management, or finance. Alternatively, they can go for a three or four-year Executive MBA programme. "We've got to cater to those who are already pursuing their careers," Mr Baxter said. "This is a very good way to bring people already in their midcareer into line with modern thinking on business and familiarise them with other business contexts."
The deal is sponsored by Total, the French oil and gas company, which aims to use HEC Paris in Qatar to develop its Gulf region managers and executives. Qatar Petroleum also contributed to the design of the programme in an effort to promote Qatarisation. Bernard Ramanantsoa, the dean of HEC Paris, said: "Offering this executive-level programme in Doha demonstrates HEC's commitment to bringing our expertise to the service of firms in Qatar."