x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Dubai School of Government reduces Harvard link and takes new direction

The Ivy League college's 'Dubai Initiative' ended in December last year.

DUBAI // A fellowship to be set up by the Dubai School of Government (DSG) will allow selected public servants to study at Harvard for a week.

The fellowship will replace a DSG-funded programme at the Ivy League university called the Dubai Initiative, which supported eight to 15 resident fellows and non-resident associates to do research on the Middle East for a year.

The switch in programmes emphasises DSG's new focus on local governance and reduces its relationship with the US university.

"The Dubai Initiative officially concluded its work on December 31," said Ashraf Hegazy, who had served as executive director of the programme, speaking by phone from the US. The programme had been set to expire then, but discussions about how to redefine the relationship continued through late last year.

Any future research partnerships between the two schools will be considered on a case-by-case basis, though none had been planned as of last month. Senior government employees would participate in activities at DSG while working full-time. Some would go on to a week-long Executive Education course at the Harvard Kennedy School of public policy. It is not clear yet how many government officials will be selected as fellows or attend the Kennedy School. DSG did not respond to requests for comment.

The DSG has downsized in recent years as its budget fell by half, and eight of 11 PhDs - including all three deans - left over the past 15 months. The school's website lists two professors and no deans. Some staff said cutbacks and the uncertainty they caused, or problems with management, had been reasons for leaving.

The connection with Harvard helped enhance DSG's reputation, one professor said last year after resigning. Several faculty members received an affiliation with Harvard and were able to do research there.

Harvard also provided support to the institute when it was setting up, Mr Hegazy said, including helping develop the curriculum, recruit faculty and design the master's programme in public administration.

chuang@thenational.ae