Arts & Letters Daily (http://www.aldaily.com/) links to an interesting two-part article on NYU's plans to establish a world-class university campus in Abu Dhabi. Do you think it will work? Will American university values of academic freedom be respected? Would you attend NYU in Abu Dhabi (in exchange for free tuition)? Do you think NYU is just in it for the money? Is Abu Dhabi just trying to buy a university on the American model, instead of growing their own? Will it impact that society in positive ways, or just cater to a small prestige-seeking elite?
Hell yes I am applying to NYU Abu Dhabi. How many opportunities from NYU do you get for scholarships and large financial aid packages?? Anyways, there is this American preconception that everyone in the Middle East is some conservative wack job, when there are very liberal people in the Middle East. Just look at the president of the UAE. My father was in the UAE before all of the glamour and attention started. He is one of the most liberal ( even by US standards) people you will meet. Although people have traditional values, it doesn't mean that they are conservative necessarily.
One the of problems I have about Abu Dhabi is that it is one of the more conservative Emirates in the UAE. The most liberal emirate is Dubai, and that is the emirate that is mostly glorified. How will jewish and israeli students be viewed by the citizens of Abu Dhabi? Only time will tell. I think NYU should have had a campus in Dubai rather than Abu Dhabi.
I actually lived in the UAE for about 6 years during the time it (well, mostly Dubai) got attention for being the millionaire's playground. My father still has business there but after expanding to the US, I moved here. I still have cousins and aunts/uncle's living there though.
To be honest, the UAE really cares about garnering as much foreign interest and investment as it can. NYUAD is a great opportunity for the UAE in the sense that now the sheikh's are focusing on bringing the reputation of Abu Dhabi up while maintaining the golden glory of Dubai. Abu Dhabi is the capital of the UAE and it's beautiful of a city as well, so I do think that NYUAD will work. Although basically no foreigner in the UAE can get citizenship (I have dual citizenship ) and all are considered expatriates, you have to understand that the UAE survives OFF of any of the attention it can get from the foreign world. This means that the American values of academic freedom will be respected as the government is very loose and lax with their regulations. They don't want to be seen as conservative and very strict as their neighbors, but really as the Vegas of the Middle East. This way the emirate can be seen as more of an appealing place for interest, investment, money, and living. In the end, it's very easy for Americans to get along there, believe it or not.
My cousin teaches at a university in Dubai and most of her cohorts are Americans who came for job opportunities. Though you can say that UAE citizens maintain a sense of elitist behavior, there are just too few nationals to really see any inequality between the two groups. I think it's forbidden for foreigners to get citizenship in the UAE because you have to be born there to get any legal status. Don't get me wrong though, there IS still discrimination (especially against South Asians and the like) but you can still live with that.
In essense, I think NYU is in it for the money and for the fact that the UAE is booming at quite a fast pace (even though the recession hit home, the UAE is still growing). NYU can expect to advertise their campus there as being in the center of a nation filled with economic growth. And yes, this will have a positive impact as more and more universities in America are looking to the Middle East to build campuses. Cornell has a medical school in 'Education City' in Qatar, and now NYU will have a campus in Abu Dhabi. I think it's just one more step to bridge the two worlds.
I would love to attend nyu abu dhabi - I have barely been out of America and I think it would an incredible experience. However, there is no free tuition for abu dhabi students - tuition and finanical aid are the same as nyu new york, where finianial aid is notoriously terrible due in large part to a relatively small endowement. I am also concerned that the classes there would be poor with mostly adjunct professors. I am interested to hear other people's opinions.
I love the idea and wish I could've applied for it last year. It's pretty much a win win for both. NYU gets a blank check to even further its reputation while Abu Dhabi gets a great American university and good publicity.
I appreciate the replies from posters who are familiar with the region.
Do you think the notion of liberal arts education will take root? The programs set up by American (and, I think, some European) universities were professional programs. If I recall, Medicine from Cornell; Journalism from Northwestern; Foreign Service from Georgetown; Engineering from Texas A&M, and possibly others. Are not most Middle Eastern students who study abroad drawn to engineering, medicine, and other applied fields?
From my American perspective, one of the greatest resources of the US is our higher education system. In a global context, should we "outsource" in this manner? To promote intercultural understanding isn't there greater value in students from Abu Dhabi and elsewhere coming to the US to attend universities here?
Most developing counties, e.g., South Korea, sent students abroad for education and then they returned to their own country to build up their own institutions of higher education. One could argue that Abu Dhabi, Qatar, and similar projects follow the strategy of "purchasing" a ready-made university "lock, stock, and barrel" rather than growing their own.
I think you're right zapfino that the Middle East is in fact employing the same idea as East Asian countries did in history. Japan executed the same exact plan of sending students abroad to the US, UK, France, Germany, and the Netherlands in order to acquire technological and military knowledge. In the case of the Middle East, I believe this notion is simply for economic interest.
I don't believe that the UAE and other 'smaller' nations are catching the interest of the West in order to educate its own citizens into being 'better' and more 'advanced' like South Korea and Japan did, but rather I think they're using foreign investment as a shortcut to economic success. Qatar and the UAE lending lands to the US and European nations will heighten interest in the two nations, and with these educational institutions in place, I'm pretty sure it becomes a venue for more investment. These nations aren't looking, as of right now at least, to educate it's own citizens, but to generate wealth and establish a stable economy through foreign capital and then work on domestic issues i.e education, infrastructure, etc. Which at least makes sense. Comparing the Middle East to East Asia is definitely viable, but the Middle Eastern nations are not sending students abroad, but are welcoming foreign students in order to stimulate an economic interest. They hope to garner interest from these students, impress upon them a likable opinion, and hope to invite more investment.
I believe we should outsource in this manner even if the liberal arts education may or may not be upheld. This way, not only are two different worlds being bridged through a cultural understanding, but a deeper, more political arena may be affected by this. For example, if more and more American and European students come to the UAE and Qatar to study and more Western businesses invest there, it develops a highly amiable relationship between the West and the Arab world. Not only that, but jump-starting economies in the Middle East is just a progressive thing to do. As for the fact that most Arab people may just be interested in either business, engineering, and medicine- it's true, we are. But if we think about it, offering this type of education in these nations is only a signal for what Western nations plan in the economic field. They plan to do business with the Arabs, they plan to start engineering projects in any oil-rich area, and for medicine- well, that is something that must be offered.
It's interesting how you compared the Middle East to East Asia. I never thought of it that way, but what Japan and South Korea have done is strikingly similar to what some of the Middle Eastern nations are doing now.
Actually, Medill requires its students to take nearly three-quarters of their coursework outside of journalism, at least at the Evanston campus. Out of the 45 courses required for graduation, 31 to 33 are in the liberal arts. So it's less "preprofessional" than you might think. Now, I wonder if NU has the same requirements for those at the Abu Dhabi campus.
Ya-Alim, my point was that Qatar and Abu Dhabi seem to be following a different model than Japan or S. Korea. Those East Asian countries developed a self-sustaining, indigenous system of higher education (albeit borrowing from the American model). They did this by sending students abroad to obtain doctorates, etc. At least among the South Koreans, many students still aspire to study in the US. I don’t see the same approach to developing a higher education system in Qatar or Abu Dhabi. Rather, they seem to be approaching it from the standpoint of “purchasing” a ready-made system, rather than developing their own system.
It’s the difference between importing what you need and developing the capacity to produce what you need. In the long-run, producing what you need is the more sustainable approach.
A better East Asian example might be Singapore. Singapore developed it’s own very strong higher education and it still continues to send students abroad to Australia and elsewhere. For all its oil wealth, the UAE has never succeeded in developing its own capacity in the same way. Hong Kong might be another example. Both Singapore and Hong Kong lack the resources of the UAE, yet have some similarities as centers of trade and finance. So while there’s clearly a different economic development strategy between these East Asian “city-states” and the UAE, what cultural factors account for the different approach to higher education.
Sam Lee, while NU’s Medill School may require coursework outside journalism at the home campus, I don’t know whether NU or some other university was providing such coursework in the Qatari “Education City” project. As I recall, only specialized departments or schools from the participating universities were involved. In the case of Georgetown’s SFS, it would be interesting if it offered a full-degree program in Qatar as the home campus has gen ed requirements in philosophy and theology, though I think they allow the substitution of an Asian history course for the theology course.