Texas A&M University at Qatar
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Branch of Texas A&M University
|Endowment||$5.6 billion (Systemwide)|
|President||Michael K. Young|
|Provost||Dr. Karan Watson|
|Dean||Dr. César O. Malavé|
|Students||542 (Fall 2015)|
|Undergraduates||493 (Fall 2015)|
|Postgraduates||49 (Fall 2015)|
|0 (Fall 2015)|
|Location||Education City, Al Rayyan, Qatar
|Campus||Multi-versity Education City, 2,400 acres (9.7 km2)|
|Colors||Maroon and white
Texas A&M University at Qatar is a branch of Texas A&M University located in Education City, Al Rayyan, Qatar. The University offers undergraduate degrees in chemical, electrical, mechanical, and petroleum engineering. A graduate program for chemical engineering (Master's degree) commenced in 2011. The curriculum that is offered at Texas A&M University at Qatar is identical to the one offered at the main campus in College Station. Dr. César O. Malavé serves as the Dean and COO of the campus while Dr. Eyad Masad serves as Vice Dean and Dr. Kenneth R. Hall serves as Associate Dean of Research and Graduate Studies.
Texas A&M University's campus in Qatar was established in 2003. The campus was set up through an agreement between Texas A&M and the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science, and Community Development, a private institution under the laws of the State of Qatar. The Qatar Foundation was started by then-emir Shiekh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani and his wife and mother of the current emir Sheikha Moza bint Nasser. The campus was opened as part of Qatar’s "massive venture to import elite higher education from the United States to Doha using the oil and natural gas riches of the tiny Persian Gulf nation". Since 2003, there have been 635 graduates.
The original agreement was for undergraduate programs in chemical, electrical, mechanical, and petroleum engineering. In 2010, an additional agreement established a graduate studies program in engineering. In 2011, a third agreement established a research program. The two initial agreements ended in June 2013 and in January 2014 a renewal agreement was signed for a period of ten years.
According to the agreement between Qatar and TAMU, the curriculum at the Doha campus will "duplicate as closely as possible" the curriculum at TAMU’s main campus. Questions have arisen over whether schools such as TAMUQ in Education City are truly able to grant students the same freedom of thought, expression and association as is available to students at the U.S. campuses due to Qatar’s much stricter laws that inhibit these freedoms. This causes doubt over whether TAMUQ can really uphold the same academic curriculum and academic standards as Texas A&M, College Station.
Management and operations
The 2014 agreement states that TAMU and TAMUQ are responsible for selecting and supervising all faculty and staff, admitting, enrolling and instructing students, developing plans to ensure the university satisfies the terms of the agreement, and designing and implementing the school’s academic curriculum and programs.
The Qatar Foundation and TAMU established a Joint Advisory Board to oversee TAMUQ. Three members are appointed by each TAMU and the Qatar Foundation, and three members are jointly appointed by both sides. The board provides advice to the Dean of TAMUQ, reviews the budget, and conducts ongoing review and evaluation of the success of TAMUQ.
According to the agreement between the Qatar Foundation and TAMU, students will abide by a code of conduct developed by TAMU for TAMUQ that takes into consideration the rules of the College Station campus and the cultural, religious and social customs of Qatar. Qatar adheres to Salafism, a fundamentalist sect of Islam also practiced in Saudi Arabia and that is widely regarded as being responsible for Muslim extremism worldwide.
Texas A&M in receives more than $76.2 million each year to operate its campus in Qatar. The Qatar Foundation purchases and owns all property, pays salaries, and reimburses expenses to Texas A&M for its campus in Doha. In addition, TAMU earns a management fee which is inclusive of all of its costs and fees for establishing, managing, and operating TAMUQ. In the budgets approved for FY2014 and proposed for FY2015-2018, TAMU’s management fee is $8.2 million.
Tuition at the university is $28,900 for undergraduates. In the agreement between the two parties, it is stated that "the tuition and fees for students at TAMUQ shall be no less than the highest rates applicable to out of state students at TAMU’s main campus". The Qatar Foundation is responsible for collecting all tuition paid by students.
According to the agreement, the Qatar Foundation is responsible for all financial aid awarded to international, non-U.S. citizen undergraduate students at TAMUQ. For graduate students, the Qatar Foundation will provide limited financial assistance to Qatari students who are not otherwise funded but is not required to provide assistance to non-Qatari students, although it may do so on a case by case basis.
The endowment of the program is owned by the Qatar Foundation and managed on behalf of the program unless a donor specifies that it should be otherwise managed. Property or equipment purchased by the Qatar Foundation or acquired through a gift to the Qatar Foundation are property of the Foundation. Anything acquired through a gift to TAMU or TAMUQ will be property of TAMU.
Texas A&M at Qatar also allows students the opportunity to participate in sports such as basketball and soccer. In the 2008 and 2009 seasons, the men's basketball team completed a historic run where they went undefeated for 46 straight games.
Texas A&M University at Qatar follows the same admissions standards in place at the home campus in College Station, Texas.
Texas A&M University has a research collaboration with Habib University in Pakistan.
TAMU agreed that the undergraduate population of its campus in Doha would be 70% Qatari citizens. About 40% of TAMUQ’s students are women, a much higher percentage than in most engineering programs.
As with many other universities with campuses abroad, Texas A&M Qatar has drawn some criticism over whether it does actually uphold the same standards for its Qatari campus as it does for its U.S. campus. Some have said that the pool of applicants for TAMUQ is smaller which leads to a higher acceptance rate and a lower quality of students. Speculation has also been that TAMUQ is the campus that is the furthest in its standards from its U.S. campus. This has led to criticism that the Qatari campus marginalizes Texas A&M’s credibility, particularly the engineering degrees earned by College Station graduates. However, there is no definitive evidence that the standards are actually lower and TAMUQ has often received praise for its Qatari campus and awards for the research performed there.
The most vocal group in protest of TAMU’s Qatar campus is the Texas A&M Aggie Conservatives, which has called for the immediate closure of the campus. In an interview with Gulf News Journal, the former chairman of the group, Justin Pulliam said that "it should concern Texans that at a state university, Qatari citizens receive admissions preference over American and Texan students, and only a small minority of the enrollment is available to U.S. citizens." This statement was in reference to the admissions policy enacted by Texas A&M Qatar per their agreement with the Qatar Foundation that 70% of the students are Qatari citizens. Despite this criticism, the campus in Qatar is not against the Texas State Education code. The campus has also been criticized for being a public institution financially controlled by a foreign entity that leaves it unaccountable to Texans.
Recently, results of a survey given to TAMUQ faculty and staff became public due to a Texas Public Information Act filing by the Texas A&M Aggie Conservatives. Faculty comments and criticism of the Qatar campus demonstrated low morale among the faculty and a lack of leadership and direction. Comments from the faculty survey said that academic departments were unsupportive of faculty members, the administration does not trust and value the faculty, other faculty members’ primary focus is research funding rather than the needs of the students, and that the leadership of campus is ineffective and lacks a clear vision.
Because of Qatar’s human rights record, TAMUQ, like other U.S. universities who put their reputations on the line with universities in Qatar, has received criticism for its acceptance of millions of dollars from Qatar. Especially as the university earns money off of the campus through its management fee, some question whether this makes TAMUQ complicit in Qatar’s array of political decisions that are antithetical to U.S. foreign policy.
In the winter 2013, TAMU publicized their plans to open a $200 million "peace campus" in Nazareth, Israel. Student at the school’s Doha campus protested the move with Qatari students claiming it was "an insult to [their] people". Shortly after, in May 2014, TAMU received $31.7 million from the Qatar National Research Fund. TAMU did not open the campus in Nazareth, instead opting for a much more modest $6 million marine research center in Haifa.
In fall 2015, The Washington Post asked Texas A&M for a copy of its contract with the Qatar Foundation. TAMU originally declined and referred the request to the Texas attorney general’s office. The Qatar Foundation’s attorneys at the law firm Covington & Burling told the attorney general’s office that releasing the records "would cause substantial competitive harm". The attorney general’s office eventually concluded that the contract must be disclosed.
In May 2015, a laboratory worker was killed in an accident in the Engineering Building. The victim was Hassan Kamal Hussein, an Egyptian expat who worked in the lab. The campus and its students, in partnership with Qatar Charity, held fundraisers to help support Hussein’s family in the wake of the accident. Since then an engineer who tried to fix the faulty equipment, and the equipment’s manufacturer have been sued over the incident.
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