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American University of Sharjah (AUS) was founded in 1997 by Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, ruler of Sharjah. The university was envisaged as becoming a leading educational institution in the Gulf region and was consciously based on American models of higher education, while at the same time being grounded in Arab culture as part of a wider process of revitalisation of intellectual life in the Middle East. AUS is an independent, not-for-profit, coeducational, comprehensive institution. It offers 26 majors and 46 minors at undergraduate level, as well as 13 master's degrees. English is used as the language for teaching at AUS. The university has around 6,000 students, with the main home countries of students including the UAE, Egypt, Jordan, India and Syria. AUS courses are accredited by the Commission for Academic Accreditation of the Ministry of Education’s Higher Education Affairs Division in the UAE and by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education in the US. The institution is a member of the Association of American International Colleges and Universities, a leadership organisation of American institutions delivering higher education outside the US. AUS pledges that it delivers a standard of instruction the same as that delivered in leading universities in the US, that it places the same emphasis on individual initiative and active learning as in the US, that campus life is “rich with clubs, sports and cultural events”, and that the curriculum is organised on the American structure of courses and pattern of semesters.