UCL to support heritage in the Gulf with Qatari campus – UCL-Q

28 October 2010

UCL will become the first British university to open a campus in Doha, Qatar, following an agreement signed today by UCL, Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development and Qatar Museums Authority (QMA).

Approximately 150 students per year will eventually study a range of research programmes and masters degrees in archaeology, conservation and museum studies at UCL in Qatar (UCL-Q), while a wide range of bespoke training courses will be provided for QMA’s museum and heritage professionals.

UCL-Q represents a unique three-way partnership between UCL, Qatar Foundation and Qatar Museums Authority, in which each of the three partners brings to the partnership a network of other regional and international partners. This development will position Qatar as the regional centre of excellence in museum practice as well as furthering the understanding of Arab and Islamic archaeology. It will also establish Qatar as an international centre of excellence in research in archaeology, conservation, cultural heritage and museology. The agreement was signed today by His Excellency Sheikh Dr. Abdulla Al Thani, Vice President of Education for Qatar Foundation, and Professor Malcolm Grant, President and Provost of UCL.

The UCL campus will have a distributed form, being situated both in Education City which currently houses branch campuses for seven international universities, including Virginia Commonwealth University, Weill Cornell Medical College, Texas A&M University, Carnegie Mellon University, Georgetown University, Northwestern University and HEC Paris, and also in many parts of QMA’s museums, archaeological sites and conservation facilities. This distributed approach to UCL-Q will ensure that its activities take place in the parts of Qatar's developing cultural resources where they can best serve the needs of heritage professionals, researchers and students.

The new UCL campus will build on the university’s renowned strengths in conservation, museum studies and archaeology, with a dozen world-class scholars, scientists and teachers from UCL’s renowned Institute of Archaeology relocating to Doha. The team will provide professional training courses for QMA staff from Spring 2011, enabling Qatar to become the regional centre of excellence in museum practice at all levels. Two two-year masters programmes, in Museums and Conservation Practice and in Arab and Islamic Archaeology, will also be on offer from 2012.

The campus is expected to grow steadily up to 2015, at which point 150 students will be based at the Education City site. UCL staff will also contribute teaching at Qatar University and at some of the US university campuses in Education City, and 1,300 school children per year are expected to benefit from cultural heritage teaching as part of planned outreach programmes. From its opening, UCL-Q will conduct research of relevance to the Gulf and to the Arab world more broadly. To this end, UCL will translocate to Qatar four existing research projects of great significance to the Gulf region.

“We are delighted to be able to confirm the opening of our new campus in Doha for 2011,” said Professor Michael Worton, UCL Vice-Provost (Academic and International). “UCL has strong values, and we are thrilled to be starting work with our tremendous partners, Qatar Foundation and Qatar Museums Authority, with their shared commitment to community development through education, training and research. Qatar already has a tremendous track record of investment in both higher education and museums, and we look forward to enabling the Qatari workforce to develop its own skills, whilst also ensuring that the country’s heritage sector becomes world-leading in its practice, research and outreach.

Education City


“Furthermore, we hope that this ambitious project will serve as a bridge between the Arab world and the West in terms of discussions and debates about cultural heritage, the relationship between the past and present, and the nature of national and individual identities.”

In commenting on the announcement of the partnership, Dr. Abdulla Al Thani said:

"UCL has consistently been ranked among the world's greatest universities, and its achievements in the fields of Archeology and Museum Studies have been particularly striking. I know UCL will add greatly to the intellectual and cultural life of Qatar. It is a significant milestone in the history of Qatar Foundation that a British university is to establish a campus at Education City.”

Her Excellency Sheikha Al Mayassa Bint Hamad Al Thani, Chairperson of Qatar Museums Authority, welcomed the partnership: “The agreement between UCL, Qatar Museums Authority and Qatar Foundation today is an important milestone in our mission to develop cultural institutions of excellence in Qatar. Through locally administered training programs, our researchers, conservators and museum professionals will be able continuously to enhance their skills and remain up-to-date in their practice. We look forward to benefit from the new graduate programs in museum studies, conservation and archaeology which will feed our future projects with qualified specialists.”

Universities and Science Minister David Willetts said:

"I am delighted that one of our world class universities can play a leading role in supporting the tremendous cultural drive being led by Her Highness Sheikha Mozah and Her Excellency Sheikha Al Mayassa. I know that as Qatar develops its exciting plans for further new Museums, UCL will, through professional training, partnerships with local universities and schools, research programmes and an archaeological fieldwork unit provide a ready source of expertise and experience to help make these projects globally renowned.

"The British government is strongly committed to strengthening relations with Qatar. We have ambitious plans to expand existing cooperation across the board: in education, culture, defence and security, trade and investment, and foreign policy co-operation. This new and exciting partnership between Qatar Foundation, Qatar Museums Authority and UCL is an excellent example of the sort of collaboration the UK wants to see more of."

This announcement follows UCL’s other overseas ventures which include the opening of UCL’s School of Energy and Resources in Adelaide Australia, a partnership with the Nazarbayev University in Astana, Kazakhstan, and the Yale-UCL Collaboration in Biomedicine.

Image: Students at Education City, Doha.

Media contact: Dave Weston


Context: UCL Global

As London’s Global University, UCL has both a thriving international student population as well as major institutional partnerships across the world. Read more about the university’s international activities at the links below.

USA: Yale-UCL agreement

Australia: UCL appoints first Director for UCL School of Energy and Resources

Kazakhstan: UCL signs partnership agreement with New University of Astana

Global news for UCL

About the UCL Institute of Archaeology:

The UCL Institute of Archaeology is the largest centre for archaeology, cultural heritage and museum studies in Britain. It is one of the very few places in the world actively pursuing research on a truly global scale in the archaeological sciences, heritage studies and world archaeology. Its degree programmes offer an unrivalled variety of course options, both theoretical and practical, covering a diverse array of archaeological topics, and wide-ranging fieldwork opportunities. UCL has been the leading UK university in Conservation and in Museum Studies for nearly 60 years; see http://www.ucl.ac.uk/archaeology/

About UCL:

Founded in 1826, UCL was the first English university established after Oxford and Cambridge, the first to admit students regardless of race, class, religion or gender, and the first to provide systematic teaching of law, architecture and medicine. UCL is the fourth-ranked university in the 2010 QS World University Rankings. 21 Nobel Prize winners have come from the UCL community. UCL currently has over 13,000 undergraduate and 9,000 postgraduate students. Its annual income is over £700 million. For more information see: www.ucl.ac.uk

UCL has eight outstanding museums and collections which cover a wide variety of disciplines, reflecting the range of the university's academic work. Three collections - the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology, the Grant Museum of Zoology, and the Art Collections - are open to the public. Other collections are primarily for teaching and research but can be seen and studied by appointment. See http://www.ucl.ac.uk/museums/