Tel Aviv University, Israel, has established a special division, TAU International, to house its growing range of English-taught programmes: currently full degrees in Liberal Arts and Electrical and Electronics Engineering, summer programmes including Yiddish, Arabic and Hebrew, and a diverse range of master’s degrees. “Tel Aviv University is embedded in a global hub of entrepreneurship and innovation. The university strives to combine a rigorous academic curriculum with opportunities to interact with students from all over the world,” advises Alison Rubin. Undergraduates tend to be American, but MA courses draw heavily from Europe and the Far East. Rubin says fees are “far lower than in most American institutions”, and she expects education changes in Europe to lead to an enrolment boost.
Similar markets are noted by Ainav Derkson at Ben-Gurion University (BGU) in Israel, although she observes Asia, Africa and South America increasing.
The institution draws expertise from its surroundings. “Located in the Negev desert, BGU is uniquely situated to confront the global challenges of sustainable living developing alternative energies, combatting desertification and managing scarce water resources,” a spokesperson says. A host of non-degree and degree programmes are offered in English, including Middle Eastern Studies and Israel Studies. “This is a university with a conscience, where high standards of research go side by side with community involvement.”
Haifa is Israel’s third largest city, but first for cultural diversity and mutual tolerance, attests The University of Haifa’s Sandra Ziv. The International School reflects this diversity and students “are exposed to a unique mix of cultures, participate in a challenging academic environment, and have the opportunity to experience a type of Israel which is never seen in the media”. This is reflected in courses such as Peace & Conflict Studies, a subject critically relevant to the local geopolitics, and the new concentration in Arabic, which provides language courses and an Islamic culture course, she explains.
Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) Herzliya was Israel’s first major private HE institution and currently hosts students from 84 countries. IDC provides BA courses in Business, Communications, Government and Psychology taught entirely in English. “The lecturers are from the best schools in the world such as Columbia, Harvard, and Sciences Po Paris,” enthuses Ella Drory. Overseas students are looked after by a dedicated staff she adds, “There is a whole department dedicated to social activities that include weekly Shabbat dinners, trips across Israel, parties and many activities with Israeli students.”
Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar (VCUQatar) was established in 1998 as the first campus at the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development’s Education City, and offers design and art history degrees. “VCUQatar strives to provide an engaged, learner-centred environment that fosters enquiry, discovery and innovation in a global setting,” advises Meike Kaan. Degrees are the same as those offered in Richmond, USA, she explains, and adds 40 nationalities are on campus, typically from the Gulf, but increasingly from China, India and Europe.
VCUQatar students have the unique opportunity to cross-register for classes at other prestigious universities in Education City, attests Kaan. The Student Centre houses various sports and entertainment facilities.
At the University of Wollongong Dubai (UOWD) students can obtain an Australian degree for less than study in Australia, relates Chirag Parekh, and numerous disciplines and pathways are available. “UOWD offers students a multicultural study environment as our students represent more than 120 countries,” Parekh adds. Thirty per cent of students are international, with key markets including China, Iran and Kazakhstan, with European applications rising.
The American University of Sharjah (AUS), UAE, has a reputation built on high-quality education and “the stress we place on excellence in every aspect of the overall university experience”, advises Ali N. Shuhaimy. “Aside from providing a stately campus, state-of-the-art facilities and a comprehensive list of degree options, AUS offers students the opportunity of learning in a vibrant, multicultural setting.” He notes mutually beneficial links with the local business community, which “provide our students with top internship opportunities and our alumni with suitable full-time careers”.
At Middle East University, Lebanon, “We offer a full-year Arabic Study programme,” advises Rachel Lemons, while students can also study undergraduate programmes including Business, Graphic Design, Computer Science and Education. The university offers an amazing green oasis overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, enthuses Lemon. “Students enjoy the personal attention of their professors, as the university maintains a great student: teacher ratio.” Key markets here include USA, Jordan, Egypt, Brazil and the Philippines.
Middle East recruitment
All of the institutions approached for this article reported increasing international enrolments and intentions to extend this trend. “We plan to increase our marketing and recruiting in both Europe and Asia,” confirms Alison Rubin at Tel Aviv University. Also in Israel, Ben-Gurion University is always interested in recruiting more overseas learners, says Ainav Derkson. “In order to do so, we participate in a variety of education fairs…In addition we run Internet marketing campaigns and place advertisements in relevant industry magazines and websites.”
At the University of Wollongong Dubai, Chirag Parekh advises, “We are keen on recruiting international students to maintain the multicultural study experience that UOWD offers,” and Parekh explains they work with education agents among other methods. Ali N Shuhaimy of the American University of Sharjah, UAE, comments, “Despite the vast range of nationalities on campus we are constantly looking to increase our student intake from outside the region Europe, USA and Asia.” He notes school visits, road shows, conferences, a heavy media presence and social media methods utilised.