Rochester Institute of Technology is planting roots in the Middle East with a planned campus in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, scheduled to open next fall. RIT President Bill Destler recently signed a memorandum of understanding with officials from Dubai, one of the seven Emirates and a major port on the Persian Gulf.
Dubai, recently dubbed “Sudden City” by the media, is feverishly transforming into an international hub of commerce in the Middle East. Dubai leaders are also focusing on strengthening higher education in the region.
“Dubai is the perfect fit for RIT given the university’s strategic plan to enhance global opportunities for our students,” says Destler. “This will also strengthen RIT’s relationships and reputation with multinational companies by being close to them wherever they are in the world and by providing those companies with a capable workforce already exposed to living, learning and working in a multicultural environment.”
RIT Dubai, the name of the new campus, will be a part of Dubai Silicon Oasis, a 7.2-square-kilometer complex that will include a high-tech park, housing, retail, banks, conference centers and more. Dubai Silicon Oasis is being called the “world’s premier high-technology park for microelectronics and semiconductor research, development and production” by Dubai officials. RIT Dubai will be in the heart of the multibillion dollar complex created by the Dubai government. Dubai will invest in building a full-fledged campus; including academic center, living quarters for students and faculty and recreational facility. RIT will provide academic content, leadership and management of the university.
“RIT is on the ground floor of one of the premier projects in Dubai,” states Jim Watters, senior vice president, Finance and Administration. “This is exciting because we will eventually be granting RIT degrees and have RIT alumni in this region of the world. Dubai has become a cosmopolitan destination. This will provide RIT with networking and lifetime contacts on a global scale.”
Planning is underway with initial offerings focusing on part-time graduate students in fields such as electrical engineering, computer engineering, mechanical engineering, finance and service management. By 2009, graduate offerings will extend to full-time graduate students and include applied networking, telecommunications, facility management, and manufacturing management and leadership. In 2010, RIT Dubai will begin offering undergraduate programs to full-time students.
The partnership will create unique study and co-op abroad opportunities for RIT students. RIT expects the establishment of RIT Dubai to create significant opportunities for faculty exchange as well. RIT Dubai will also strengthen RIT’s relationship and reputation with multi-national corporations, which have established a strong presence in the Emirates and in Dubai.
The ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed Al-Maktoum, has established a $10 billion foundation to support human development in the Arab world. A major focus of this foundation is to provide scholarships to enhance higher education in the region. A magnet high school for science and technology is also expected to open in the Dubai Silicon Oasis next year.
According to Jim Miller, senior vice president, Enrollment Management and Career Services: “Dubai adds an important on-the-ground presence that complements exciting campuses in Croatia and Kosovo, as well as program-based delivery in the Dominican Republic. These international initiatives build on and complement the over 60 existing partnerships and agreements RIT has established with foreign universities, international organizations and governments agencies spanning five continents.”
Miller adds: “Currently, RIT enrolls approximately 1,500 foreign students representing 95 countries in undergraduate and graduate programs in Rochester. Over 900 additional international students are pursuing RIT degrees at existing international locations.”
RIT leaders give credit to Professor Mustafa Abushagur, director of microsystems engineering, for initially starting and leading the dialogue with Dubai leaders over the last two years.
“This is a great opportunity for RIT to become a major provider of high quality educational programs in the global market,” explains Abushagur. “Dubai is one of the most dynamic cities in the world with an ambition to become the center of education in the region. RIT Dubai will provide our students with an opportunity to experience being in an international setting among students from all over the world.”
Statement by RIT President Bill Destler at Dec. 5 news conference announcing the planned establishment of RIT Dubai available at: www.thetigerbeat.com/rss/podcasts/destler_statement_12-05-07.m4a
Transcript of statement available at: www.thetigerbeat.com/rss/podcasts/destler_statement_12-05-07.rtfPhoto of the Dubai Silicon Oasis available at: www.rit.edu/news/lib/views/public/images/picsadmin/DSO%20Headquarters.JPG
About RIT: Rochester Institute of Technology is internationally recognized for academic leadership in computing, engineering, imaging technology, and fine and applied arts, in addition to unparalleled support services for students with hearing loss. Nearly 16,000 full- and part-time students are enrolled in RIT’s 240 career-oriented and professional programs, and its cooperative education program is one of the oldest and largest in the nation.