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ERIC Number: EJ838640
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009-Mar-27
Pages: 1
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0009-5982
A New Model for American Colleges Abroad: Quiet Partner
Mills, Andrew
Chronicle of Higher Education, v55 n29 pA26 Mar 2009
For the past two years, a steady stream of visitors from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has made the roughly 7,000-mile trek from Cambridge to Abu Dhabi to help build what aspires to be the first graduate-level research university devoted entirely to fostering renewable, clean, and sustainable sources of energy. Set to open this fall with a few dozen students and faculty members, the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology aims to eventually enroll 800 master's and Ph.D. students. The institute will also anchor a large clean-energy community, known as Masdar City, being built around it. The project is backed by Mubadala, an investment fund controlled by Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi and next in line to be president of the United Arab Emirates. The fund says it has set aside $15-billion in seed capital to build the city, including the Masdar Institute. The project is so audacious that some wonder whether it can succeed in today's troubled economic climate. But MIT's work here represents a relatively low-risk investment and offers what may become a more common model for American institutions looking to extend their influence abroad: the behind-the-scenes consultant. For $40-million, MIT agreed to a five-year commitment in which it would help build the Masdar Institute from scratch. MIT administrators and faculty members have been working with local administrators to set up the institute's administrative and governance structure, recruit and train faculty members, and design the course work. MIT has also agreed to help Masdar seek out research contracts with industry and governments. The MIT arrangement will allow it to avoid some of the pitfalls that other American universities have faced when attempting to establish outposts abroad. Many have struggled to transfer the same standards of admissions and instruction and hire the same caliber faculty members that they command at home. At Masdar, MIT's name won't be on any of the buildings. Its professors will not be expected to teach there. And the degrees will be issued by Masdar alone. In fact, MIT must be consulted every time Masdar wants to mention the relationship between the two institutions in its promotional materials. If the Masdar Institute fails, MIT can exit when its contract expires. But if Masdar succeeds, MIT will be forever linked to one of the world's most innovative research institutes, not to mention to the deep pockets of Abu Dhabi's ruling family.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: United Arab Emirates (Abu Dhabi); United States