When MeZnSat, a nanosatellite designed and built by the engineering and science students at the American University of Ras Al Khaimah (AURAK), was launched last September, it spotlighted the cutting-edge education and hands-on training the university offers. As the ground station, maintained by the students, continues to track and collect data on greenhouse gases, AURAK has positioned itself as one of the leading institutions in the UAE providing the North American model of undergraduate and graduate education.
Apart from the quality of teaching that is vital for a transformational, student-centred learning experience, Prof. Stephen C. Wilhite, Provost of AURAK, points out to pathways to graduate study in the US as factors that make the university stand out.
We have distinctive 3+2 agreements in place with three US universities - students complete three years of undergraduate study at AURAK, followed by two years of graduate study at the partner institution in the US.
“We have distinctive 3+2 agreements in place with three US universities - students complete three years of undergraduate study at AURAK, followed by two years of graduate study at the partner institution in the US,” explains Prof. Wilhite. “After the fourth year of study, students receive their undergraduate degree from AURAK, and they receive their master’s degree from the US university following the completion of the fifth year.”
Students also have the choice of spending a semester or a year at partner universities in Europe, with all completed coursework counted towards their AURAK degree.
This international exposure is on top of the opportunity to learn the latest programmes in emerging fields on AURAK campus.
Last academic year, the university launched undergraduate programmes in artificial intelligence (AI) and interior design, graduate programmes in sustainable and renewal energy and infrastructure engineering, and a post-graduate diploma in educational leadership, rounding up the number of courses on offer to 25. More programmes such as majors in business analytics and hospitality and tourism management, a concentration in forensic science, a programme in private law, biotechnology and genetic engineering, communications and cybersecurity are in the pipeline, says Prof. Wilhite.
“Every programme at the university is assessed annually for potential modification based on feedback from students, alumni, employers and advisory councils composed of experts outside the university.”
Consistent efforts to keep pace with the change in market needs and enhance the quality of education have borne fruit. In just 12 years, AURAK has achieved an institutional ranking of #10 in the UAE, #50 in the Arab region and a 5-star rating for Overall Institutional Excellence from QS. While its faculty is drawn from around 26 nations, students of 46 different nationalities attend the university, which provides comfortable dormitory accommodations on campus.
“AURAK’s campus facilities are second to none in the UAE, with easy access to beaches, mountains, and major city centres,” says Prof. Wilhite. “Spread over 1.3 million square feet, the campus has two main academic buildings housing the School of Engineering and the RAK Bank School of Business, with the Abdullah Bin Ali Al Sharhan Arts and Sciences Building scheduled to be completed later this year.
“A new building to accommodate the Saqr Library is nearing completion, and a new mosque to serve the campus and the community is under construction. The construction of a new Student Centre is proposed for 2022, followed by a new building for the Architecture and Interior Design programmes.
“The campus also boasts 39 labs supporting the academic programmes.”
This is in addition to the three administration buildings housing a variety of support functions including the Admissions Office, Office of Student Success, and the offices of the university’s senior administration. Both indoor and outdoor sports facilities are also available on campus.
Along with top-notch infrastructural facilities, AURAK also offers merit-based scholarships and financial aid to students in partnership with external agencies. Depending on the academic accomplishments of the students and their chosen programme, they get discounts ranging from 25 per cent to 100 per cent in tuition fees.
Admissions are now open for fall 2021.
For more information, contact the Department of Admissions at Aurak.ac.ae