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Dubai office expands university’s presence in the Middle East

Syracuse University officials have seen a substantial increase in applications from the Middle East since SU opened a representative office in the United Arab Emirates in June 2011.

“Just in the past three years, there has been a 39% increase in students applying to SU from the area where our efforts have been focused, and a 6% increase in enrolling students,” said Karen Bass, director of international undergraduate admissions, in an email. “For the fall of 2013, we are already experiencing a 24% increase in applications over last year from this area.”

The representative office provides information, resources and background on SU to prospective students and parents in the region, said James O’Connor, executive director of international advancement and external affairs, in an email.

Abdallah Yabroudi, an SU alumnus and trustee, made the creation of the center and SU’s increased presence in the Middle East possible by providing an office, renovating the space and helping SU establish a presence in Dubai.

The office supports the university’s efforts in the Middle East, O’Connor said. Through fundraising, recruiting, student exchanges and admission information, the SU office in Dubai creates a presence for those in the Middle East that has benefitted SU.

“The chancellor designated Dubai and the Gulf in general as a geography of opportunity,” he said. “That means there is a focus by SU on transfer of knowledge, so we can learn about the cultures and the religions of the Middle East, and fundraising and just being ready to take advantage of opportunities that arise.”

The Regional Council for the Middle East, North Africa and Turkey is especially influential in promoting SU throughout the area and attracting prospective students, O’Connor said. The council consists of four SU alumni who live in Dubai, Kuwait and Bahrain, and hold important positions in society and business.

The council interacts with all of the SU colleges and the Dubai office by organizing an accepted students event in Dubai and Riyadh. The regional council is also working on creating a Dubai symposium for the fall semester, O’Connor said.

SU is also looking to expand its presence in ways besides the center, O’Connor said. The university is currently exploring institutional relationships with the American University of Sharjah and another technical school.

In Saudi Arabia, the School of Information Studies has a contract with Effat University in Jeddah, and is working on creating a research-training program with Princess Noura University, O’Connor said.

In regard to the center, O’Connor said he doesn’t anticipate a dramatic expansion anytime soon. The university is content with how it is reaching out to alumni, raising money, recruiting students and building relationships with agencies and institutions in the Middle East that can help SU increase its stature, he said.

Right now, the university is focused on its commitment to students in the Middle East, said Bass, the director of international undergraduate admissions.

Said Bass: “Having a presence demonstrates our institutional commitment to students from the region, something that has significant meaning for them and for their parents.”

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