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Sun 9 Sep 2007 04:00 AM

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Start spreading the (education) news...

Each week Arabian Business turns the spotlight on a leading company.

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According to reports in the US press, New York University (NYU) is to open a fully-fledged campus branch in Abu Dhabi, to be paid for by the Abu Dhabi government. The campus will accommodate up to 2000 students, and grant full NYU degrees to its best and brightest.

Best and brightest at what, exactly?

A full undergraduate college, NYUAD (our acronym) is likely to offer divisions in the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences. Students will take general education courses in their first two years, with all instruction in English. Mariët Westermann, currently director of NYU's Institute of Fine Arts, will head the campus if you believe The New York Times. A senior faculty member told the newspaper: "She's a brilliant scholar, an impressive, polished person, and she's a woman, which makes a lasting statement."

This is all a bit out of the blue, isn't it?

Negotiations have stretched over more than a year, according to a source close to the deal. It will be formally announced next month, and until then both parties are keeping quiet on any further details.

And what are those brainboxes from the Big Apple hoping to achieve?

NYU has been busy globalising for some time now. In April 2006, the law school announced that it was creating a dual degree programme with the National University of Singapore. NYU already has study-abroad sites as far-flung as London; Accra, Ghana; and Shanghai, and the new campus will use Abu Dhabi as its hub in the Middle East, with hopes of attracting students both from Arab countries and from the Muslim countries of South and East Asia.

From where will NYUAD get its teaching staff?

Many details are still to be worked out, but the expectation is that while most faculty members will be hired from elsewhere, financial incentives will help to lure dozens of NYU professors - and not just those interested in the Middle East - to the Abu Dhabi campus even if only for a semester, or a January |mini-course.

Did anyone I might know study there?

NYU counts 27 Nobel Prize winners, nine National Medal of Science recipients, 12 Pulitzer Prize winners, 19 Academy Award winners (more than any other American university), and several Emmy, Grammy, and Tony Award winners among its past and present graduates and faculty.

That said, you probably know it best as the workplace of Professor Ross Gellar, from popular US sitcom Friends.

That's more my level. So it's a done deal?

"The two issues for which there are no clear and easy answers are whether we can get faculty comparable to the quality of NYU faculty, and whether we can get students comparable to NYU undergraduates," said the NYU source, which suggests that only time will tell as to whether ‘the city that never sleeps' has found a permanent home in the UAE's capital.

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