By Universities UK International
Muscat University was established in 2016 with a vision to produce a pipeline of future leaders for Oman and the region, combining academic rigour with the world of work, and with a strong commitment to innovation and entrepreneurship.
The university is a corporate social responsibility initiative led by 37 leading omani individuals, families and businesses, with a clear focus on quality of provision, and with a goal to contribute to closing the gap between industry and higher education in the gulf region.
Partnering with two UK universities that are highly ranked for graduate outcomes and with strong links to industry supports this aim, and ensures that quality is embedded from the outset.
As of September 2017, Muscat University will o er nine joint programmes across three faculties:
• Engineering and technology;
• Business and management; and • Transport and logistics.
Cran eld University is partnering with Muscat University to provide six postgraduate programmes and Aston University is partnering to deliver three undergraduate programmes. Students on these joint award programmes will be considered students of both universities (Muscat and Aston, or Muscat and Cran eld), will fall under the UK and Omani quality management mechanisms, and will receive two certi cates upon graduation.
One of the missions of Muscat University is to develop local capacity and, as such, programme delivery will predominantly use the ying faculty model and locally-based supervisory support in the rst instance, with the reliance on ying faculty reducing from 90% in the early years
to 60% as the university develops. The three parties will work together to support faculty professional development on an ongoing basis.
At the macro-level, one of the biggest challenges in establishing the partnerships has been aligning di erent governance structures to allow for the delivery of the same programme, with the same award, in two di erent institutions and locations. The use of high-level steering committees, which meet on a regular basis, has ensured that the three institutions’ vision remains closely aligned.
At the operational level, challenges have included initial contractual agreements including governing laws; understanding cultural norms and expectations; aligning IT systems and delivery schedules; and accommodating varying and uctuating public holidays. The partners identify the use of project champions across the three universities, and a commitment to frequent and frank communication at all levels, as important factors underpinning successes to date, and as critical to future success.
There has been huge interest from local and international sta in Muscat University. In a recent recruitment campaign, 1,280 applications were received for three posts advertised. A high volume of student applications have been received for the September 2017 rst intake, while local industry has enthusiastically welcomed the opportunity to work with internationally-recognised UK universities on their home turf. Research opportunities have surfaced both for industry projects as well as for research collaborations across the three institutions. It will be imperative to ensure that these are nurtured to address the UK impact agenda, as well as the Omani social and economic research priorities set by the government.
In a recent recruitment campaign, 1,280 applications were received for three posts advertised. A high volume of student applications werereceived for the September 2017 rst intake, while local industry has enthusiastically welcomed the opportunity to work with internationally-recognised UK universities on their home turf.
Muscat University provides a platform for Cran eld University and Aston University to work with Muscat’s senior management and founders to contribute to the creation of a major new university from the ground up, with a focus on implementing best practice from the outset. The country and region-wide impact of Muscat University will be revisited on a regular basis over time.