EAST LANSING Mich.
The next time Michigan State University expands its operations, it will be going a bit farther afield than Grand Rapids.
About 7,000 miles farther.
The university is moving forward with plans to set up degree and research programs in Dubai, United Arab Emirates programs that would allow students to earn MSU degrees without ever setting foot in East Lansing or, for that matter, on the North American continent.
“For at least the last decade, MSU been looking for an opportunity to expand and enhance its presence in the Middle East,” said John Hudzik, MSU vice president of global engagement and strategic projects.
“It’s a world region that is so incredibly important for all of us, and we thought it would be our job as an institution to try to be a positive influence in a region so important.”
A year ago, Hudzik said, he was approached by representatives from TECOM Investments, which owns Dubai International Academic City, a development that houses a cluster of international universities only a few minutes from Dubai’s business district.
Setting up operations there came to seem like the right opportunity, he said, in part because of Dubai’s relatively open cultural climate and flourishing economy.
“It’s already well on its way to becoming the next Singapore or the next Hong Kong,” he said.
“That gives us access to the banking industry, to construction, to telecommunications, to transportation, to everything.”
MSU President Lou Anna Simon said the deal with TECOM was built on a “genuine sense of commonality of values.”
“They may be expressed differently, but still the same fundamental values, as we look at the world in the 21st century, what we want to do to contribute to a better global society.”
Ayoub Kazim, executive director of Dubai International Academic City, said he and his colleagues were “proud to partner with Michigan State University on a project that offers a new educational and cultural dimension to students in our region.”
Such connections, he said, “can significantly contribute to boosting larger social attraction between the regions and promote great understanding of each other’s cultures.”
Hudzik said startup costs for the Dubai operations will be covered by a $2.5 million line of credit extended to MSU by TECOM and the programs there will be self-sustaining.
“There’s no drain on main campus resources,” he said.
And, though there are still some details to be worked out, MSU could begin teaching classes in Dubai by fall 2008.
Plans call for about 650 students by the fourth year of operations, though MSU officials are still determining which degree programs will be offered.
Hudzik emphasized that “the degree we offer in Dubai will be the same as the degree here.”
The Dubai programs will be taught by regular MSU faculty the university will have to make some new hires, but officials haven’t determined how many and will have the same curricula and degree requirements as other MSU degrees.
“This is really our first effort to establish a broad presence abroad that is MSU,” Hudzik said. “It’s not somebody else that we’re affiliated with.”
As for whether Sparty will make his way overseas as well, that’s perhaps less certain.
“When you think about intercultural relations, some of the symbols may not exactly play right,” Hudzik said, “but green and white are good colors.”
© Copyright 2005 by DiverseEducation.com