New £35m Heriot-Watt campus opened in Dubai

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First Minister Alex Salmond today opened Heriot-Watt University’s new campus in the Arabian Gulf.  Mr Salmond is on a visit to the area promoting the Scottish renewable industry and seeking to increase links in education.

Speaking in front of an audience of students, staff and dignitaries Mr Salmond said: “You have access to the best tools needed to bring the world out of recession.”

Scotland’s First Minister said that the world class campus would establish the high quality of Herriot-Watt University in the United Arab Emirates and added:

“Even more than that, it will showcase the advantages of gaining an education in a Scottish university.”

“For centuries, a Scottish education has been much treasured and today it is no different.  Heriot-Watt University was the first overseas university to set up in Dubai International Academic City, offering a top quality standard of education to students and executives from the Gulf and further afield.”

“The high-quality Scottish education available at Heriot-Watt’s Dubai campus will provide thousands of students with the skills to become future leaders, managers and innovators to create a stronger business world.”

The £35 million (AED 200m) purpose-built, modern campus – which has trebled the University’s original capacity of 1,500 students and will allow it to expand the range of its courses – is based in the Dubai International Academic City, approximately 25 minutes from the centre of Dubai.

Professor Steve Chapman, Principal of Heriot-Watt University, who was also present at the opening, said:

“The opening of our new, purpose-built Campus heralds an exciting new chapter in Heriot-Watt University’s history in Dubai and builds upon our considerable and pioneering success here.”

“As Scotland’s international university, the official opening of our new state-of-the-art, eco-friendly Campus, built in partnership with Eikon International and offering world class facilities, demonstrates our ambition and continued vision for providing high quality and relevant Scottish Higher education in the region.”

Lena Wilson, Chief Executive of Scottish Enterprise, said such ventures were necessary in order to secure Scotland’s long-term economic growth and said:

“This new campus will place further international focus on both Heriot-Watt University and Scotland and will pave the way for a new generation of business leaders.”

“Scotland has strong reputation in education and this new venture further highlights the high value that other nations place on Scotland’s knowledge, skills and expertise as world leaders in education and academia.  In fact, The Sunday Times recently recognised Heriot-Watt as the Scottish University of the Year 2011/12, stating that its graduates are ‘highly regarded’ throughout the world.”

“By collaborating with Dubai we can proactively make it easier for Scottish companies to trade within the UAE, ultimately boosting the Scottish economy.”

The First Minister unveiled a plaque to mark the opening and then undertook a tour of the new facilities where he saw textiles being designed and spoke to students in both the engineering and petrol engineering laboratories.

He also met students from Scotland during his tour of the first phase of the new facility.  The second phase of the campus which will begin in 2012 will provide an auditorium, halls of residence, sports facilities and food outlets.

Heriot-Watt University was the first British university to open its doors in the Dubai Academic City. After 180 years in Scotland, Heriot-Watt was invited to the region to educate students from around the world, including India, Nigeria and Kazakhstan.

The University is one of the first higher education institutions to receive a licence from the Knowledge and Human Development Authority in Dubai (KHDA) recognising the University’s commitment to provide UAE with the highest quality British education.

All management, design and engineering and built environment students can transfer to the Edinburgh or Scottish Borders campuses at any time after their first year in Dubai.

Forty five per cent of the students who are awarded a Scottish degree overseas obtain their degree from Heriot-Watt University.