June 9, 2008

Higher Education Goes Abroad

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Last week, several Cornell students traveled to China as representatives of the Ivy League Student Delegation. The trip was just one example of how students in America and the rest of the world are beginning to reap the benefits of international initiatives in higher education. Here are some of the latest headlines that highlight this trend.

Qatar Graduates First Class of Medical Students
On May 6, Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar honored its inaugural class at a convocation ceremony in Education City. Over 1000 guests — including members of the Qatar royal family — celebrated the 15-student class, as well as the other 107 graduates of Education City’s class of 2008.
“Today is a day when dreams become reality,” said Abdulla bin Ali Al-Thani, Qatar Foundation’s vice president for education, according to the University. “Today we witness the fruition of many years of hard work.”
Cornell partnered with the Qatar Foundation to found WCMC-Q in 2001. The foundation began its operations in 1995, aiming to improve the education system in the Arab emirate located in Southwest Asia. Today, five American universities — WCMC-Q, Virginia Commonwealth, Texas A&M, Carnegie Mellon and Georgetown — reside on the 2,500-acre campus.
“The greatest challenge we face is building a completely new medical school from scratch in a country located 7,000 miles away from New York,” Daniel R. Alonso M.D., dean of WCMC-Q, told The Sun earlier this year. “WCMC-Q replicates the triple mission of Weill Cornell Medical College in New York: education, research and patient care.”
Some fear that the region heavily dependent on oil money does not offer ample opportunity for the droves of Middle Eastern scholars looking to pursue the elite education being offered.
“Education City graduates will be a broadly educated elite, who have had extended contact with American professors and American ways of thinking, and, in some cases, spent time at their school’s home campus back in the United States,” The New York Times reported.

Lehman Seeks to Create First Bar Accredited University Abroad
In China, the Peking University School of Transnational Law will greet its own inaugural class this fall. The school — whose founding dean happens to be Cornell’s former President Jeffrey Lehman ’77 — is currently seeking to become the world’s first international law school accredited by the American Bar Association.
The university subscribes to the model of American law schools — its three-year curriculum teaches students, in English, about American law, and hopes to soon see its students take the New York State Bar Exam. Currently, no foreign law schools are accredited by the ABA and therefore its graduates do not leave with J.D. degrees.
Like WCMC-Q, space at the institution is limited. According to Inside Higher Ed, Lehman said 210 students applied to be a part of the institution’s first 55-student class.
In 2005, Lehman sat down for an interview with The Sun, and spoke about his studies on legal institutions in China.
“I am interested in how universities play a role in international politics and in the economy,” he said. “I’ve been interested in Chinese legal reform since I was at the University of Michigan.”

Emily Cohn is one of The Sun’s news editors