AFG College with the University of Aberdeen opened its university campus in September 2017. The first UK university partnership campus outside of Qatar Foundation, Doha News speaks to the AFG College Principal, Brian Buckley about this unique academic partnership.
What makes the AFG/UoA partnership unique?
We are the first British university partnership campus in Qatar to offer a diverse range of university programmes. Our uniqueness is embedded within our joint vision of providing the Aberdeen University experience underpinned by over 525 years of educational excellence, through contextualised teaching and learning which values an inclusive, international and sustainable approach to our student experience.
We are a true partnership in every sense. Our students are students of the university. Our degrees are the degrees of the university and our academic and professional services are intrinsically linked to ensure that our students are fully supported throughout their student journey and beyond.
Can you give us a brief overview of what programmes you currently offer?
During our first year of operations we started with just two Aberdeen Business School undergraduate degrees in business management and accountancy and finance. Within a year we had launched a further two postgraduate degrees – The Master of Business Administration (MBA) and a Master of Science in International Business.
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With the support and guidance of the Ministry of Education and Higher Education, we have now extended our degree offerings beyond the business school and are now offering degree programmes from five of the University’s twelve academic schools.
Bachelor Degrees in:
- MA(Hons) Business Management
- MA(Hons) Accountancy & Finance
- BSc(Hons) Business Management & Information Systems
- MA(Hons) Business Management & International Relations
- MA(Hons) Business Management & Legal Studies
Postgraduate Degrees in:
- Master of Business Administration (MBA)
- MSc International Business Management
- LLM International Commercial Law
- MSc International Human Resource Management
- iPGDE/MEd (Education)
These degrees are offered through the School of Law, the School of Natural Sciences and Computing, the School of Social Sciences Politics and International Relations and the School of Education.
In 2022, we will further extend our degree offerings to include STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subjects which will support the Qatar government’s 2030 Vision of building a knowledge-based economy underpinned by home grown graduates equipped with sector specific skills who in turn, will play a fundamental role in diversifying the economy to aid future sustainable growth.
Why did the University of Aberdeen choose to open in Qatar?
Founded in 1495, Aberdeen University has a long history of internationalisation. Since its foundation, in 1495 the University has invited and encouraged academics and scholars from diverse cultural backgrounds which in turn, has enriched the teaching and learning environment of the university.
Qatar’s relationship with the UK spans many prosperous years. UK education has always been the first choice for many Qatari Nationals.
Some of the oldest schools in Qatar provide a UK based curricula. English is spoken widely throughout the Country and is considered the Country’s second language of choice.
Together, these historical foundations provided the university an opportunity to extend its educational reach by building on the successful relationship between the two countries. Moreover, the vison of our Chairperson, Dr Sheikha Aisha bint Faleh Al Thani appreciated the relationship between the two nations and moreover, the importance and value of a UK university experience.
The choice of Aberdeen in Qatar was borne out of a mutual respect and an aligned educational vision between the Al Faleh Group for Educational and Academic Services, a subsidiary of Al Faleh Educational Holding, and the University.
How do Qatar based students gain a Scottish experience?
Our students are undertaking the exact same degree as those students studying at the main campus in Scotland. Our teaching and learning environment, including course material, learning outcomes and methods of delivery are commensurate with that of the central Aberdeen campus. Our academic and professional student services teams work in partnership with their colleagues in Scotland, sharing best practice in all aspects of our student’s journey, from application and enrolment, through to graduation and beyond.
Ensuring that our students receive the Aberdeen experience is a joint effort which is very much based on the principles of the Scottish educational model, but with mutual recognition and understanding of the cultural and societal differences that exist between the UK and the region.
Prior to the global pandemic, there were regular visits from Aberdeen academics and professional services staff to the Qatar campus. Staff from Qatar also regularly visited the main campus in Scotland.
Moreover, Qatar students have the opportunity to study part of their degree in Aberdeen and we plan to extend this opportunity to students studying in Scotland who wish to experience our campus here in Qatar. Once the global pandemic subsides and it is deemed safe to travel, we will jointly facilitate further collaborative opportunities through student staff exchanges, which in turn will strengthen the partnership and further enhance our student experience.
Tell us about plans to expand and what future holds
The success of our partnership and the expansion of our degree programmes requires larger premises.
In September 2022 we will open a new state of the art university campus which will accommodate up to five thousand students. We will extend our educational reach, attracting regional and international students to study with us. We will foster a research informed teaching and learning environment, with a focus on inclusivity, widening access and internationalisation.
Our partnership journey has only just begun. Our future success will be underpinned by the success of our students and the vision of Qatar to become a knowledge based economy.
For more information, visit www.abdn.ac.uk/qatar