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New York University to Open Campus in Abu Dhabi

New York City's largest private university, New York University, is opening a campus in Abu Dhabi, one of the seven gulf Emirates. Victoria Cavaliere reports from VOA's New York Bureau that Abu Dhabi's government will fund both the building and operation of the school. NYU officials say the emirate is supporting the campus because it shares the school's belief in the value of a liberal arts education.

NYU Abu Dhabi will be the first comprehensive liberal arts campus established overseas by a private U.S. research university.

The school's programs will be overseen by New York-based faculty, and NYU hopes to enroll some 2,000 students from the Middle East, South Asia, Central Asia and Europe.

Dr. Mariet Westermann has been named Vice Chancellor of the new campus. Dr. Westermann, director of the university's Institute of Fine Arts, says NYU and Abu Dhabi hold the same understanding about the value of expanding higher education across borders.

"Abu Dhabi's real commitment is to the development of the emirate as a capital of culture, as a capital of ideas. It is a remarkable recognition of the leadership of Abu Dhabi, that it takes universities to do that, and that is what brought them to us and us to them," Westermann said.

Dr. Westermann says although Abu Dhabi's government is paying for the project, its oversight will stop there. Acceptance to the school will be based solely on academic potential and without regard to sex, religion or race.

"The leadership understands that in societies such as the United States, universities need to be able to set their own academic policies. Abu Dhabi has come to us because they like the quality product that NYU turns out in New York today. And they understand that to maintain those standards, that we will fully guarantee, we need to have that academic control, and so we fully have it," Westermann said.

NYU says it sends more students to study abroad than any other U.S. university. Dr. Westermann says the goal is to create a global network of NYU schools and programs, to allow faculty and students to flow between programs in Europe, China, Argentina, Ghana and beginning in 2010, Abu Dhabi.

NYU will be the second foreign university to create a satellite campus in the emirate. Paris-Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi was established in May 2006.