BOV Agrees To Continue Negotiations for New Campus in Dubai

Posted: October 15, 2003 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Jeremy Lasich

In a special meeting held yesterday by the Board of Visitors’ (BOV) Faculty and Academic Standards Committee, Provost Peter Stearns got the green light to continue negotiations for the possible establishment of George Mason’s first international campus–located in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE). The committee unanimously agreed that the option should be further explored, but requested an update at its Nov. 20 meeting before approving the final product.

The campus would be developed in collaboration with ETA-NET, a UAE-based multinational corporation, and it would offer undergraduate and graduate degrees to admitted students from the UAE and other countries in the region. The goal is to open the campus, which would be located in Knowledge Village–part of the Dubai Technology and Media Free Zone–in fall 2004.

The proposed responsibilities for George Mason include the quality and standards of the academic programs offered at Dubai, the curricula, academic process, teaching methodology, examinations and evaluations, quality assurance, and continuous monitoring of institutional effectiveness. In addition to funding the majority of the project, ETA-NET would provide classrooms and audio-visual facilities, computer equipment and software, libraries, and faculty members per George Mason’s requirements.

Several BOV members raised concerns about the new campus, including not enough due diligence on ETA-NET, an exit strategy if the project is not successful in the first few years, profit distribution, damage to George Mason’s reputation if the campus fails, and the cost factor, including time spent on the proposal by faculty members and senior management. Stearns adequately addressed most of the issues and said others could not be answered until the negotiations progressed.

If the campus is approved, Stearns says there will be several benefits to the university, including an opportunity to contribute seriously to the educational structure and professional training apparatus in a vital, increasingly significant part of the world; an enhancement of international perspectives and experiences for George Mason faculty members and the university’s curriculum in a variety of fields; and new study abroad opportunities for Mason’s American students.

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