UCL Global


UCL Qatar: Celebrating 10 years of academic excellence

9 December 2020

After 10 successful years of operation and graduating 330 students, UCL Qatar will be closing its doors at the end of the year

UCL Qatar graduates on steps in their caps and gowns

In the 1990s, the Qatar Foundation (QF) recognised the need to equip the national workforce with the knowledge, skills and best practices necessary to shape a national vision for galleries, libraries, archives and museums.

UCL was recognised as the ideal partner to fulfil this need and in 2010 formed a 10-year partnership with QF. This was in line with UCL’s objectives of furthering its academic mission globally.

Since 2010, UCL Qatar has delivered postgraduate and doctoral education programmes in cultural heritage and information management that have created immense new knowledge and established the institution as the Centre of Excellence for Cultural Heritage and Knowledge Management in Qatar and the region.

Research and projects with impact

Research was at the heart of UCL Qatar. In 10 years the institution was awarded more than £11m for research, conducted 100 research projects, conserved over 500 historical objects in world-class laboratories and attracted 30 internationally-renowned visiting scholars from 19 countries.

One project, The Origins of Doha and Qatar, involved a major archaeological excavation in old Doha in collaboration with Qatar Museums (QM) that unveiled ancient settlements and informed subsequent cultural heritage protection activities.

Improving the regulation, management and protection of Qatar’s cultural heritage led to the Cultural Heritage Law Project that UCL delivered in partnership with QM. It aimed to revisit existing legislation in order to expand ways of protecting, managing and promoting the country’s cultural heritage to the highest international standards.

Engaging with the public, community and key institutions

UCL Qatar made its expertise and knowledge openly available to the community and public. Working in partnership with prominent organisations, the institution hosted over 130 public events, attended by over 10,000 participants in person and online.

Outreach programmes for children and schools included a series of resources and toolkits to support educational activity on local cultural heritage, specifically developed and produced by UCL Qatar academics, alumni and public engagement staff.

Guiding the next generation of cultural leaders

The long-term sustainability of Qatar’s cultural heritage was a key priority, with a particular focus on contributing to the Qatar National Vision 2030 (QNV 2030).

The most important contribution to this ambition was made by the 330 UCL Qatar masters and doctoral alumni, many of whom now work in renowned institutions such as QM, Qatar National Library (QNL), UNESCO, the National Museum of Australia and others.

To further support professional development in the cultural heritage and knowledge management sector, UCL Qatar delivered 230 training courses attended by more than 2,500 participants, including many emerging and established heritage professionals.

Overcoming challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic together

When the global coronavirus pandemic arrived in Qatar, it made the last year of operations of UCL Qatar even more challenging. This stimulated innovative solutions to completing the last year successfully.   

To ensure that that students could graduate as planned, a comprehensive range of teaching and support measures was developed.

The student exhibition planned as part of the academic curriculum was delivered virtually rather than in person and major academic conferences, such as the 24th International Conference on Electronic Publishing (ElPub 2020) and the 2nd International Conference on Museum Big Data, were held remotely.

UCL Qatar closes this year, in line with the shift in UCL’s approach to global engagement to focus on partnerships of equivalence rather than bricks and mortar campuses. This decision was taken in 2015, following extensive consultation with staff and partners.

Dr Sam Evans, Director of UCL Qatar, said: “For UCL, the opportunity to operate, educate, study and research in Qatar’s Education City with the Qatar Foundation and many national partners and stakeholders has been a tremendous source of educational insights. 

Although 2020 hasn’t quite been the final year we hoped for, we are hugely proud of the work of our students, faculty and staff that has still made it a huge success. We are looking forward to our virtual closure event 'Empowering Our Present, Unlocking Our Future: 10 Years of Academic Excellence' on 13 December during which, together with our partners, stakeholders and many friends, we will reflect on our time in Qatar.”

UCL’s relationship with Qatar will continue through the MA in Educational Leadership, delivered to Qatar Foundation school leaders, and the UCL Institute of Metabolic Studies that was established in collaboration with Aspire and the Qatar Red Crescent.

For more information about UCL Qatar's legacy, visit this page.

For the latest news about UCL’s international activity, partnerships and opportunities, subscribe to our bimonthly Global Update newsletter.