Accessibility links

US Colleges Open Campuses in Middle East

From Carnegie Mellon to Georgetown, many major U.S. universities are trying to expand their campuses overseas. New York University is the latest to look for new ways to provide students with an international education.

New York University is expanding the time-tested idea of having a remote campus in the Middle East. Instead of just offering a highly specialized program as the Georgetown School of Foreign Service does in Qatar, they are creating an entirely new liberal arts college in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates.

Josh Taylor, vice chancellor of public relations for NYU Abu Dhabi, says "There are other American institutions that are offering terrific programs in the region. We're certainly not aware of any other American institution that has created a full four-year liberal arts college that is going to be housed in a research university."

NYU's campus opens at the same time Abu Dhabi is trying to diversify the city and increase investment in the arts and education. Abu Dhabi has financed the NYU project, which right now is located in the heart of downtown, with plans to expand into a new campus off-island in 2014.

This is not the only part of the NYU project being planned. The 150 students accepted for this fall will be the university's first class. To some students that would be a disadvantage when looking for universities, but surprisingly most students do not see it that way. American student Erin Meekhof is a member of the NYU class of 2014 in Abu Dhabi.

"We're all thrilled about it and we think that is one of the coolest parts of this whole experience is that we're going to be starting this, we're going to be starting traditions instead of just joining in," said Meekhof.

NYU's vice chancellor in Abu Dhabi, Josh Taylor, says these students come at the recommendations of their high school teachers, which is atypical to the college selection process.

"We identified about 900 of the top secondary schools around the world and worked closely with their college counselors to identify one to two of their top students who they thought would be appropriate for NYU Abu Dhabi," said Taylor. "Academically gifted, broad range of interests including an indication that they would be interested in being in a very international environment."

Meekhof could not see herself turning down this opportunity, even though she would be living more than 7,000 miles away from her home in Woodbridge, Virginia.

"When I found this, it went way past all the standards I had set for myself as my minimums for a college," said Meekhof.

Meekhof said Abu Dhabi had the same kind of big city feel as New York, with an added bonus of old buildings full of culture. But she adds that she will bring her own experiences of living in suburban America with her to this unique college experience.