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Summertime study given full marks at Dubai university

Two-thirds of students sign up for extra classes that allow them to complete their degrees and start working sooner.

DUBAI //When Murdoch University's Dubai campus launched an extra summer term recently, two-thirds of its 1,200 students, undergraduate and postgraduate, signed up.

And there would have been more, said Daniel Adkins, the academic director, if the term had been announced before other students had made their plans for summer.

Rashed Ebrahim, 22, from Bahrain, can now condense his three-year degree in commerce management to just two and a half years, allowing him to start the job he already has lined up sooner.

"I just want to start working," said the Murdoch student. "The cost has nothing to do with it. If I wasn't doing this, I'd just be back home doing nothing and my parents getting fed up with me."

For others, Mr Adkins said, the cost was crucial.

"Many students coming here are sponsored by their parents so if they can complete their three-year degree in two, it saves them a whole lot of living expenses and allows them to move more quickly into the job market," he said.

Results since the start of the summer term one month ago have been promising, he added: attendance is high and grades impressive.

"This also means there is continuity - so when they return in September, they don't have to refresh so much. It keeps the momentum going," he said.

For the teaching staff who stayed behind - many of them part-time or "adjunct" academics, who would otherwise not get paid during the three or four holiday months - the extra classes are not a problem, as they would be looking for work during the summer anyway.

Mr Adkins believes the summer term will give Murdoch, an offshoot of an Australian university which opened in 2008, a competitive edge when it comes to attracting students.

Fellow Australian body the University of Wollongong in Dubai began its summer courses in 1994 and enrolments have grown enormously. This summer, the university has more than 1,550 students on campus.

Peter Hawke, the head of student recruitment, admits it has its challenges: "It obviously requires additional planning and timetabling and many lecturers want to take holidays in the summer, so there can sometimes be challenges in finding lecturers for all areas."

mswan@thenational.ae

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