October 2015 –
There is war raging in parts of the Middle East and that has impacted everyone in the region. Those involved in international education face an anxious group of current students and a concerned, if not skeptical group of future students. We thought we’d ask how a few of the universities in the region are coping with the situation. Here’s what they say.
From Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates:
The American University of Sharjah (AUS) enjoys all of the safety and stability that the UAE has to offer. In contrast to many countries around the world, including the USA, the UAE has experienced very minimal terrorist activity, violent incidents, or property crime. The country is known for its political stability, careful visa screening policies, and strict security measures. Dusk arrives between 6 and 7 pm throughout the year, and women especially enjoy freedom to walk safely around the city centers after nightfall. In addition, the UAE maintains one of the most diverse populations in the world, and is tolerant and welcoming to people from various world cultures and religions.
The standalone AUS Campus located within the University City complex is similarly safe and secure, with an on-site Health Clinic (including Ambulance), major teaching hospital located just around the corner, campus-wide security officers on staff at all hours, a special division of the police stationed at the two access gates to campus, and a Police College located just next door. We send our students to study abroad, often to the USA, and I always find it rather ironic when I have to calm the fears of local parents who worry about sending their students to a place where there are so many campus shootings, etc.!
From Beirut, Lebanon:
AUB life has been safe and thriving, thus no recent announcements in the last 15 months have needed to be made except for health precautions when the university was closed for the dust storm. When the University needs to communicate an important announcement regarding safety to the AUB community, this information appears on the AUB homepage and is also sent via SMS so that messages are instantly received on users’ (students, faculty & staff) mobile phones.
Most international students, especially visiting international students, take advantage of the weekend trips and events organized by the Office of International Programs (OIP). OIP follows a safety and security protocol for these trips, and it’s been pleasing to learn (and experience!) how much they are enjoyed and taken advantage of by all international students. Furthermore, students are given a number of campus resources to reach out to for informed travel, including suggestions of where not to go. Ultimately all decisions regarding travel to, from, and within Lebanon are personal ones. Students, families, and schools are encouraged to discuss the security situation in the country and arrive at informed conclusions that satisfy their personal comfort level.
At AUB, we are committed to campus and neighborhood safety, and to be as effective as possible in a crisis situation. AUB cannot however guarantee political certainty so ultimately whether or not a student decides to attend AUB comes down to personal choice. AUB receives on average 50 visiting and exchange students per semester and about 22% of its student population is international.
From Dubai, United Arab Emirates:
The economic progress and broad-scale success of Dubai have captured the imagination of the world. Dubai’s booming prosperity and its safe environment attract thousands of visitors every year. At The American University in Dubai (AUD) students live and study on a campus where over 100 nationalities are represented. Every academic year AUD receives over 100 study abroad students who travel comfortably in the region and get fully immersed into its cultural diversity and thus get a unique international exposure. In addition, AUD is located in a very vibrant area of Dubai – Media City, in proximity to Nakheel metro station.
The American University in Dubai ensures that the utmost security and safety measures are taken on its campus at all times. AUD’s Security Office is reachable 24/7 through the Security Supervisor, or the Security Emergency Number; the security guards are present round-the-clock on campus for the sake of the students’ welfare. Students must always be collaborative and present their student AUD ID at the security gates or whenever asked by the security guards inside the campus. AUD security guards have the right to expel from campus or deny entry to students who refuse to present their AUD IDs. All visitors wishing to enter our campus are allowed access either by prior invitation from a member of the AUD community, in which our security team verifies immediately with the concerned AUD member before entry of visitor; or if the visitor wishes to visit our Admissions team, they are allowed access to that department directly, which in all cases they are asked to leave their national ID at the security gates, and are given a visitor’s badge to wear during their stay on campus.
For any emergencies out of our institutions’ control, the security team at AUD involved the Supervisor immediately and contacts Dubai Authorities and Dubai Police for further guidance if needed.
As you can see from each of these accounts, the universities in the region are moving forward with their educational mission and taking precautions to keep their students and international visitors well cared for. As Americans see in the news, tragedy and random violence occurs worldwide and is a concern for us all. The war that rages on in some parts of the Middle East does cast a shadow over daily life in the entire region as well as the world, and at the same time life goes on.
We highlight three universities that openly welcome study abroad students and are committed to bringing a rewarding and worthwhile educational opportunity to future students. Each hopes you will consider spending some time on their campus and experience the best of what they have to offer. Check out what students have to say about their experience by reading the reviews:
At risk of being cliché, we leave you with the widely referenced quote about travel: “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”
– Mark Twain, Innocents Abroad