Original Source: www.zawya.com, 28th August 2012
University College London Qatar (UCL Qatar) has welcomed its first student intake of 32 students from 13 nationalities at its new Doha campus and announced the commencement of its degree programmes. The students enrolled across three Master's programmes (MA Archaeology of the Arab and Islamic World, MA Museum and Gallery Practice, MSc Conservation Studies). The students come from Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Syria, USA, United Kingdom, Germany, Greece, Italy, Serbia, China, Pakistan and Panama with Qatar as the most represented nationality amongst the student body.
UCL Qatar's recruitment has shown positive numbers with a wide representation from a range of nationalities, signalling an important step for Qatar and for the Hamad bin Khalifa University campus at Education City. Six members of staff from the Qatar Museums Authority are among those to have gained admission. The courses are the first of their kind in Qatar, as UCL hopes to create a new generation of students who are interested in cultural heritage studies, thus serving Qatar's Vision 2030.
Students are following a four day induction programme before academic sessions commence on 2 September. As part of their studies, students will undertake work placements at museums, archaeological sites and cultural heritage organizations in Qatar and the wide region, exposing them to the practical aspects of working within the cultural heritage sector.
Professor Thilo Rehren, Director of UCL Qatar, commented: "We are absolutely thrilled to enrol our first 32 students today. This is well above the target we had set ourselves, and testament to the hard work of our staff and faculty over the last year. All three Masters' programmes have recruited very well."
"Our students, who will be with us for one or two years depending on their programme of study, hail from 13 different countries, from the Americas through Europe and Asia, and across the Arab World. We are particularly pleased that the by far largest group, however, comes from Qatar itself - nearly 30% of all our students are Qatari nationals. This further underlines the thirst of young Qataris to learn and develop the skills they need on the way to a knowledge-based society."
"At the same time, the wide diversity of students ensures that they all receive an international education on a par with what UCL is offering in London. The international students will get to know Qatar and Qatari culture in great detail, and create long-lasting ties and friendships for the future. Qatar's vision for the country to be a centre of excellence in Higher Education and in Cultural Heritage has already inspired a whole generation of young people. UCL Qatar is proud to contribute to the implementation of this vision, and helping to shape a new generation of museum professionals, conservators and archaeologists in the Gulf, and beyond."
Brett Kershaw, UCL Qatar's Marketing Officer added "This is a wonderful start for us. To be able to welcome such a diverse, fantastic group of students for our first intake is more than we could have hoped for. Not only are we pleased with our remarkably gifted group of Qatari students, but we are fortunate to have students coming to Qatar from far afield, from many different backgrounds. Our students will benefit from outstanding facilities and an exceptional team of academic staff who really are leaders in their fields. We look forward to continuing to attract the strongest and brightest students from Qatar and abroad to our programmes."
Brett Kershaw continued: "Our colleagues at UCL Qatar extend our warm thanks to Qatar Foundation, Qatar Museums Authority and our colleagues at UCL in London for unfailing support, encouragement and guidance along the way in order to reach and achieve our shared vision."
Ghaida Al-Sawalha, a student on the MA Museum and Gallery Practice degree programme who has relocated to Qatar from Jordan for her studies said, "As a museum professional, this course will be perfect preparation for me in terms of further developing all of the skills and attributes required to successfully run a new museum. To be accepted into one of the world's leading universities is an honour for anyone. To be in a learning environment that acknowledges, challenges and shapes the contemporary cultural heritage issues of the Arab world is a further incentive. "
Erik Demarche, an MSc Conservation Studies student who has relocated to Qatar from Denver, Colorado said "I was drawn to study in Qatar due to its emergence as a cultural heritage centre at the cutting edge of learning and education. UCL Qatar's MSc Conservation Studies programme offers the opportunity to specialize in a range of different materials. I'll gain practical skills through local and regional work placements, and my studies will have a specific emphasis on this region. I am excited to start."
UCL Qatar is a three-way partnership between University College London, Qatar Foundation and Qatar Museums Authority . It aims to consolidate Qatar's position as the leading centre of excellence in the region for higher education, and more broadly to expose a new generation of students and future leaders to the cultural heritage sector.
In addition to its degree courses, UCL is engaging the local population via its outreach programme, which includes taster sessions with school children, and public lectures covering a wide range of topics focused on archaeology, conservation and museology.