A newfound partnership with the Saudi Arabian school Prince Mohammad bin Fahd University has been solidified after two years of work. The university has three colleges offering bachelor’s degrees in engineering, business and information technology. As one of the leading research institutions in the South, UCF has successfully created a partnership that will not only maintain the program’s integrity but also make it more competitive and appealing to prospective students. UCF should continue its efforts to expand, giving way to connections and new opportunities for its students, as this will only supplement its academic reputation.
The merger also includes a pledge from PMU of $1 million to cover startup costs, another plus. UCF is currently at a disadvantage with regards to lack of funding. The student population continues to swell, and students considering UCF for higher education need incentives, including financial assistance. At a time when companies are consistently outsourcing jobs, American schools need to look at the benefits of a program, like this one, that will not only serve to repair tense global relations but also give American students an edge over others. This new program will hopefully provide that edge for UCF students, something that could bolster its efficiency regarding job placement for graduates.
Unfortunately, a merger with PMU may cause scrutiny by some for its handling of student protests. The Wall Street Journal reported on an instance in which school Chairman and Governor Prince Mohammad bin Fahd attempted to suppress student demonstrations against the Saudi Arabian government. When it comes to the Middle East, this is nothing new and should not come as a surprise. Whether Fahd’s attempts to drown out student protests were appropriate or not is not something that remains to be seen, but it should not deter students from supporting the partnership. This is hardly an egregious human rights violation, and although it may be widely agreed that students should be afforded the right to protest, it should at least be viewed as an opportunity for dialogue. For a Saudi Arabian university to be open to the idea of partnering with such a large American university should be viewed as progress.
In this regard, partnerships such as this one can only lend themselves to a more thorough understanding of cultures that are very dissimilar to our own, and without them no progress will be made. If anything, it will force leaders and school officials to behave more fairly to their students, as they know that UCF’s students will be following their actions.
This partnership lends itself to a better acceptance and appreciation of Saudi Arabian culture, and the advantage works both ways. UCF students will have opportunities to travel and experience Saudi Arabian culture, and the same will hopefully be afforded to PMU students.
UCF’s partnership with Prince Mohammad bin Fahd University is sure to bring about a flurry of questions and concerns, but above all, students should view the joint venture as one that will positively affect UCF in numerous ways.