Two years on from its establishment, Murdoch University's base in Dubai has built a strong profile in the United Arab Emirates and has grand plans for the future.
Murdoch Dubai Academic Dean Professor John Grainger, who visited Perth this week, said the Dubai campus planned to double its intake of students, increase the number of courses available and expand its facilities in Dubai.
The plans aim to build on the rapid success of Murdoch Dubai, which opened in 2008 with 30 students on media and business programs.
Professor Grainger said: “There are currently 35 students in media and 55 studying commerce at undergraduate level, plus a further 50 foundation and 90 MBA students.
“We have a growing reputation and we have substantial plans for the future. We anticipate that over the next year, we will have between 280 and 300 new students to add to our existing student body, including 160 to 180 on our MBA program.”
The MBA has been a huge success for Murdoch Dubai – partly because of the way in which the course uses a trimester system allowing students to spread their work over three study periods in a year.
New programs on offer at Murdoch Dubai include Business Information Systems, and a Master of Education will be launched in January, taking advantage of the University’s links with Australian schools in the UAE.
There are also plans to offer studies in environmental management and sustainability – a hot topic in a country which has the highest carbon footprint in the world and consumes more water per person than any other nation.
Murdoch Dubai currently operates out of Dubai International Academic City, a zone dedicated to higher education. It is home to 20 universities and 10,000 students from around the world, including India, Pakistan, Russia, Belgium, the UK and Ireland.
Staff numbers are also growing, with a further 10-12 academic staff due to be appointed shortly. Staff enjoy the opportunity to work in a multicultural community – there are 28 different nationalities in the MBA class alone.
Professor Grainger said that although life in Dubai was very different to life in Perth, Murdoch offered a little bit of Western Australia to its students.
“All the course materials come from Perth, our staff are all approved by Murdoch in Perth and our students are honorary Western Australians while they are with us,” he said.
Murdoch Senior Deputy Vice Chancellor Gary Martin said that he hoped that Murdoch Dubai would also cater for Murdoch students studying in Perth to have an educational and cultural experience in the UAE.
“We have put in place a Discovery Exchange Program which allows Perth-based students to study for a semester or trimester in Dubai and we are hopeful that students will take up this opportunity,” Professor Martin said.
“The same program also enables Dubai-based students to spend a semester or trimester here in Perth.”
Professor Martin said that the Murdoch Dubai initiative had been successful in building a profile of Murdoch University in the Middle East and that the success had been achieved through effective communication between Murdoch staff at all levels in Dubai and Perth.