Education

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NYU President John Sexton

American Universities Open Satellite Campuses in Middle East

May 08, 2008 09:00 AM
by findingDulcinea Staff
by Rachel Balik
New York University is being criticized for its decision to open a degree-granting campus in Abu Dhabi, even as Weill Cornell Medical School graduates its first class in Qatar.

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The American college education system “is becoming an important export as more universities take their programs overseas,” according to The New York Times. More American universities are considering generous offers from the United Arab Emirates to build satellite campuses abroad, but not without criticism from faculty.

New York University president John Sexton recently accepted a $50 million gift in exchange for beginning plans on an NYU campus in Abu Dhabi that will grant full NYU degrees. Sexton hopes the new campus will “vault the university into the top echelons of global academia,” but not all administrators share Sexton’s outlook. “I still think the downside is lower than the upside is high,” said University of Pennsylvania president Amy Gutmann. “The risk is that we couldn’t deliver the same quality education that we do here, and that it would mean diluting our faculty strength at home.”

While NYU is the first American undergraduate university to open a branch abroad, Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar graduates its first class on May 8, 2008. Cornell’s president David Skorton views the success of the satellite school as one of the university’s greatest achievements.

However, some believe that United Arab Emirates’ generous donations to schools could compromise their academic integrity and principles. For example, the Paris-Sorbonne, which has a degree-granting campus in Abu Dhabi, “is quite open about having sold itself to the highest bidder.” Abu Dhabi was the only state that offered to cover all its expenses.

Headline Links: American university outposts in the Middle East

Background: Sorbonne establishes Abu Dhabi campus, Yale declines to do so

Opinion and Analysis: Do cultural differences compromise education?

Related Topic: Satellite museums in Abu Dhabi

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