x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

University of Oxford delegation in capital

One of the world's oldest and most prestigious universities has sent a delegation to the capital.

ABU DHABI // One of the world's oldest and most prestigious universities has sent a delegation to the capital with a view to developing links with the emirate. The arrival this week of a group from the University of Oxford followed a visit to Abu Dhabi by the university's chancellor, Chris Patten, in September. Abu Dhabi has already persuaded two of the world's major universities, the Paris-Sorbonne and New York University, to open branches here, generating interest among other well-known institutions.

The nature of any collaboration between Oxford and Abu Dhabi has not been finalised, said Prof Jim Mienczakowski, head of higher education for the Abu Dhabi Education Council (Adec). "It's a further sign of how the world's leading universities are identifying Abu Dhabi as an emerging educational hub. "It's very exciting to see these research-intensive universities coming to Abu Dhabi and wanting to be part of the major developments that are taking place here."

He said discussions were still "very much at an initial phase" although a joint committee had been formed for future talks. Among those attending this week's meeting were Dr John Hood, the university's vice chancellor, Giles Henderson, the master of Pembroke College, and Edward Oakden, the British ambassador. The University of Oxford dates back to the 12th century, making it the oldest university in the English-speaking world, and it consistently ranks as one of the UK's top two universities alongside Cambridge.

Last month Adec revealed that 11 of the world's top 100 universities, as ranked by The Times Higher Education Supplement, had in the past year shown interest in setting up operations in Abu Dhabi. The emirate has rejected 30 universities that wanted to set up here, with officials keen only to allow high-ranking institutions to open. Another of the world's top universities, Yale, based in Connecticut in the United States, had looked into creating a branch campus here, but the talks broke down as the institution did not want the offshoot to award its own degrees.