x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

NYU president to teach Emiratis

Emirati students have been selected for a specialised academic course taught by the president of NYU.

John Sexton, the president of New York University, speaking at Emirates Palace earlier this year during a conference on school leadership.
John Sexton, the president of New York University, speaking at Emirates Palace earlier this year during a conference on school leadership.

Abu Dhabi // Top Emirati students have been selected to take part in a specialised academic course taught by John Sexton, the president of New York University (NYU). The group of 17 male and female students will be the first to take part in the Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed University Scholars Programme, launched to provide excelling students with "special academic and leadership opportunities".

The scholarship was developed in conjunction with the NYU Abu Dhabi Institute to "jump-start" academic activities while the US university builds its campus in the capital. The students were selected from the three major universities in the Emirates: UAE University, Zayed University and Higher Colleges of Technology. Students will still attend classes at their universities while taking part in the two-term course, and will be given a chance to improve their English-language skills.

"NYU is very excited about this," said Diane Yu, the scholarship's executive director. "The students seem to be delighted and their universities said they were pleased." The course would help create future leaders, she said, adding that the students would meet US and Gulf leaders who would talk to them about their careers and experience. The students will be given the chance to apply for master's and doctoral degrees at NYU, and those admitted will have their postgraduate studies costs fully covered by the programme.

The course, which will be titled Religion and Government, is expected to be similar to a "popular" module Dr Sexton teaches in New York. NYU and Abu Dhabi Government officials announced an agreement last October to open a campus in the capital. It will be the first major US university to open a branch abroad and is expected to receive students in 2010. Peggy Sharpe, the assistant chief academic officer at UAE University, said the course would be a mutual learning experience for the students and NYU officials.

"If NYU is going to open a new campus, it's important to know the three national institutes in the UAE and the kind of students so they can be good neighbours," Dr Sharpe said. "We can work together to improve the quality of education in the UAE." The students, who come from science and humanities departments, will be assigned intensive reading lists. Dr Sharpe said they would learn how to argue their opinions in English.

The students will be given a chance to travel to New York and Washington DC, where they will visit the Supreme Court and NYU's Washington Square Campus. The number of students and modules is expected to increase next year, according to scholarship officials. Sheikha Mariam bint Mohammed bin Zayed, the co-chair of the Scholars Programme Steering Committee, said the selected students "already have academic records to be very proud of".

"Participating in this programme over the coming year will provide them with even greater access to opportunities to enhance their leadership skills and academic capabilities," she said. @Email:mhabboush@thenational.ae