Texas A&M to shutter Qatar campus amid Middle East ‘instability’

Qatar Foundation says ‘deeply disappointing’ decision is result of ‘disinformation’ campaign

二月 9, 2024
Texas A&M University in Doha, Qatar
Source: iStock
Texas A&M University in Doha, Qatar

Texas A&M University has decided to close its flagship campus in Qatar because of “heightened instability” in the Middle East.

The Qatar Foundation, the state-led organisation that runs the country’s Education City, hit back against the “misguided decision”, which it said was the result of a disinformation campaign.

Texas A&M at Qatar, which is one of six US universities on the Education City site alongside the home-grown Hamad Bin Khalifa University, has graduated more than 1,500 engineers since it opened in 2003.

In a statement, the institution said it had decided last year to reassess the university’s presence in Qatar because of the “heightened instability” in the Middle East, and it has now come to a decision to terminate its agreement with the Qatar Foundation.

Qatar has been frequently acting as a negotiator since the Israel-Hamas conflict in Gaza began in October, but it has come under criticism in some corners for hosting Hamas.

The partnership between Texas A&M and Qatar has also recently come under scrutiny, with a report by the Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism and Policy claiming that there were significant national security concerns regarding the ownership of military research conducted there.

Bill Mahomes, the chair of the Texas A&M board, said the university had decided that its core mission should be advanced primarily within Texas and the US.

“By the middle of the 21st century, the university will not necessarily need a campus infrastructure 8,000 miles away to support education and research collaborations,” he said.

The decision to terminate the contract, which will take four years, does not immediately change operations or services on the campus.

Hend Zainal, executive director of strategy, management and partnerships within the Qatar Foundation’s higher education division, said the decision had been influenced by a disinformation campaign aimed at harming the interests of Qatar.

“It is disturbing that this disinformation has become the determining factor in the decision and that it has been allowed to override the core principles of education and knowledge, with no consideration to the significant positive impact this partnership has brought for both Qatar and the US,” she said.

“It is deeply disappointing that a globally respected academic institution like Texas A&M University has fallen victim to such a campaign and allowed politics to infiltrate its decision-making processes.

“At no point did the board attempt to seek out the truth from QF before making this misguided decision.”

Texas A&M said its university administration would assemble a team to ensure that students complete their education, that faculty and staff are supported, and that research obligations are appropriately fulfilled.

Mark Welsh, president of Texas A&M, said the Qatar campus has advanced ideals, graduated exceptional engineers, and is cemented as an important legacy of the 147-year-old institution.

“As we look to the future of our land-, sea- and space-grant university, the global exchange of research and education will continue to be integral to our world-class campuses here in the US,” he added.




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