Education City makes academic strides

Last week, The New York Times published a series of articles about the “global university” — a phrase that’s been used to describe Carnegie Mellon since 2005, when the Carnegie Mellon-Qatar campus opened in Education City, a 2500-acre campus in Doha, Qatar. Now, Education City is home to branch campuses of four other American Universities. In addition to studying business, computer science, and now information systems at Carnegie Mellon, Qataris, Bangladeshis, Syrians, Indians, and Egyptians can study pre-med at Cornell, art and design at Virginia Commonwealth University, engineering at Texas A&M, foreign service at Georgetown, and soon, journalism at Northwestern, without ever leaving home.

These programs offer the highest-achieving students of the Middle East the chance to receive top-notch educations that will prepare them to work in the global marketplace and give them an advantage over others in their respective fields. For the universities, these programs also introduce a host of often-unanswerable questions. How much should a university localize the curriculum to match the values and culture of the program country? Will American taxpayers end up financing the education of non-American students abroad? What happens if relations between the U.S. and Qatar deteriorate? Will foreign institutions and foreign students trained in American methods hurt the competitiveness of American students and industries?

It’s natural for American universities to try to anticipate problems in an effort to cut their losses. However, we believe that Carnegie Mellon’s programs in Qatar will help far more than hurt. First, the program provides a top-tier education to hundreds of students who otherwise might not receive one. Second, the program is mutually beneficial, providing opportunities for students in Qatar to study at home and abroad in Pittsburgh, as well as the opportunity for students and faculty at Carnegie Mellon’s Pittsburgh campus to learn and teach in Qatar and experience life outside of the United States. This is the goal of the global university, and we’re glad that The New York Times has recognized Carnegie Mellon’s global success.