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Mason's Board of Visitors Votes to Withdraw from Ras Al Khaimah (RAK) Partnership by Close of Spring Semester

Feb. 27, 2009

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FAIRFAX, Va.—George Mason University's Board of Visitors (BOV) has voted to rescind the institution's participation in the campus in Ras Al Khaimah (RAK) in the United Arab Emirates at the conclusion of the current spring semester. 

The students presently enrolled in classes at George Mason University in Ras Al Khaimeh (GMU-RAK) will be allowed to complete the semester. The university will provide support to help students either continue their studies at Mason's campuses in Northern Virginia or transfer to another institution of higher learning in the region. The BOV's decision is the result of procedural and budgetary changes made in the operations of the campus by the partner foundation in RAK.

"George Mason University is deeply disappointed to be withdrawing from this partnership, but we feel this decision is in the best interest of our students and the institution," said Peter Stearns, provost of George Mason University. "It has been our desire from the beginning to offer undergraduate and graduate classes of the highest caliber in one of the most vital regions of the world. Given the fact we reached an impasse with our partner over budget and control issues, we feel this is no longer possible."

Mason, Stearns added, remains committed to its international endeavors and has reciprocal agreements with other universities and colleges around the world, including the Sino-American 1+2+1 Dual Degree Program with several major universities in China. Later this month Mason will announce a new partnership with Moscow State University that will result in an exchange of both faculty and students with that prestigious institution.

"Mason remains committed to international collaborations. However, our first commitment is to our students. The changes in our agreement, which were sought by our partners in RAK, would have put the university's accreditation in jeopardy, and that is unacceptable under any circumstances," said Stearns.

Educational agencies in RAK intend to develop a new institution, the American University of Ras Al Khaimah, and have asked George Mason University to play a consultant role in the school. The new arrangement would be different from the current operation. George Mason University administrators will soon be discussing this new opportunity with higher education leaders in RAK to see if a mutually beneficial agreement can be negotiated.

"This development underlines the amicable relationships that continue despite some admittedly challenging discussion in recent weeks," said Stearns.

About George Mason University
Named the #1 national university to watch by U.S. News & World Report, George Mason University is an innovative entrepreneurial institution with global distinction in a range of academic fields. Located in the heart of Northern Virginia's technology corridor near Washington, D.C., Mason prepares its students to succeed in the work force and meet the needs of the region and the world. With strong undergraduate and graduate degree programs in engineering and information technology, dance, organizational psychology and health care, Mason students are routinely recognized with national and international scholarships. Mason professors conduct groundbreaking research in areas such as cancer, climate change, information technology and the biosciences, and Mason's Center for the Arts brings world-renowned artists, musicians and actors to its stage.