x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Masdar chief: we aim for more Emiratis

Fewer than 10 per cent of yesterday's graduates were UAE nationals.

ABU DHABI // Only six of yesterday's 72 graduates were Emirati - a healthy number that demonstrates a "great opportunity for UAE nationals", Dr al Jaber said.

"The renewable industry itself is nascent," the Masdar chief pointed out. "For us to be able to attract such talented UAE nationals and for them to be able to meet MIT standards, undergo their courses and meet graduating requirements - well, now it's our baseline."

Masdar intends to learn from the experience, he said, and build on the numbers for next year.

"We're going to look back and assess our gaps - and we do have gaps - we're going to capitalise on the event today, and the graduates, and do our utmost to attract more UAE nationals, especally through the Foundation programme for UAE graduates."

He was adamant that the intake must focus on quality rather than quantity. "A percentage is not a real measure. It's the type of students we attract, and their quality.

"Our main goal now is the next batch and to increase the intake of nationals, enhance our foundation programme, provide all the facilities and the tools to equip these UAE nationals to meet the standards of the university."

Dr Sulaiman al Hattlan, chief executive of the Arab Strategy Forum, was untroubled by the low number of Emirati graduates. "It's a start," he said. "I'm in favour of having international students coming to the region. The idea isn't just to get an academic degree and leave your institution but to intereact with other students.

"The international students will influence students from the region to really go beyond academic experiences and explore other ideas and cultures throughout the years they spend here."