x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Yes, Mr Miqati was at Harvard … but 'could you keep it vague?'

Najib Miqati says on his website that he attended Harvard University. But Lebanon's prime minister-designate never attended a four-year programme there.

Najib Miqati, right, Lebanon's incoming prime minister, meets the outgoing premier, Saad Hariri, last week in Beirut.
Najib Miqati, right, Lebanon's incoming prime minister, meets the outgoing premier, Saad Hariri, last week in Beirut.

NEW YORK // Lebanon's prime minister-designate, Najib Miqati, says on his official website that he attended Harvard University for management studies.

In a section of the website entitled "From 'average student' to Harvard", Mr Miqati is quoted as saying: "My university was in Beirut and then Harvard for management studies." His biography on the same site says he attended the American University of Beirut, the Insead business school in Paris, and Harvard.

News websites such as the BBC also describe Mr Miqati as a Harvard graduate, while the Associated Press has referred to him as a "Harvard-educated billionaire".

But, in fact, Mr Miqati is not a graduate of a standard undergraduate or master's degree course of study at Harvard. He attended two short-term training courses at Harvard, one in 1990 and another in 2004, said Jim Aisner, a university business school spokesman.

Mr Miqati completed a nine-week course, "Owner-President Management", in 1990. The programme has a tuition cost of $31,000, Mr Aisner said.

A spokeswoman for Mr Miqati said he attended Harvard Business School from 1989 to 1990. She said she did not know what had been required to complete the course.

"Why can't you keep it vague?" she said.

Harvard allows certificate holders of these executive education programmes to call themselves Harvard Business School alumni.

Mr Miqati also attended a five-day executive education course at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.

Doug Gavel, a Kennedy School public-relations official, confirmed in an e-mail that Mr Miqati attended its Innovations in Governance Executive Education programme in December 2004.

When asked if Harvard considered graduates of such courses its alumni, Mr Gavel replied: "All participants who complete an Executive Education programme are considered to be HKS [Harvard Kennedy School] Executive Education alumni."

Those who complete the course receive a certificate of completion.

The Kennedy School would not comment on the evaluation process of those who attend executive education programmes or whether participants must sit any exams to receive the certificate.

At the time Mr Miqati enrolled the fee for the course was $5,200 (Dh19,000), which covered tuition, lodging, most meals and study materials, according to the school.

A source familiar with the executive education programmes said participants were usually high-ranking government officials and business leaders and that Arab participants often then described themselves as Harvard graduates.

While the instructors in the executive innovation programmes are Harvard faculty, the acceptance rates are significantly higher than either those of the Kennedy School or Harvard College.

According to the Kennedy School, it typically receives between 85 and 110 applications for the Innovations programme each year, and accepts between 55 and 65 applicants.

In contrast, the Kennedy School last year accepted less than 20 per cent of applicants, while Harvard College accepted less than seven per cent, according to university statistics.

foreign.desk@thenational.ae