By Grant Smith
Al-Maktoum College is hoping to get back on track thanks to a tie-up with an English university.
It has been without higher education students since a contract that saw its degrees validated by Aberdeen University ran out last year.
The college, which was founded in 2001 and is supported by the deputy ruler of Dubai, offers Masters and PhD courses focusing on Islamic and Arab issues.
Management have been trying to find a new academic partner and discussions with Lancaster University now seem set to lead to a deal that will see it validate four new Masters courses.
A spokesman for Al-Maktoum said: “We are set to offer major new teaching programmes as we move forward in our second decade in Dundee.
“A total of 140 students have graduated to date from the college, a remarkable achievement given our relatively short history. We now look forward to welcoming new post-graduate students.”
The link with Lancaster comes after a difficult time for the college, including an unsuccessful claim of unfair dismissal by its former principal Professor Malory Nye.
An employment tribunal rejected his contention that he had been sacked from his £67,000-a-year job for being a white Christian. However, Aberdeen University’s decision not to renew its three-year degree validation contract was a more serious threat to the college’s long-term survival.
An inspector from the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education visited in May.
His report explained that all students enrolled on higher education programmes at the college had been transferred to Aberdeen University and at the time of the visit the college had no higher education students.
However, the inspector was hopeful about the potential deal with Lancaster, saying: “The college has chosen to seek partnership with an awarding institution with considerable expertise in subjects offered by the college.
“Both institutions share a vision of a politics, philosophy and religion learning and teaching approach, rather than the traditional divinity approach of the previous awarding body.”
The Al-Maktoum spokesman said the college was also planning to launch diploma and certificate courses, covering Arabic and various aspects of Islamic studies, with the approval of the Scottish Qualifications Authority.
“These carefully-crafted programmes are due to get under way shortly,” he said.
“The college is confident they will prove as popular as the community classes we have been running successfully for several years.”
In addition to the academic developments, the college is also looking forward to undisclosed financial support thanks to Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, deputy ruler of Dubai, minister of finance for the United Arab Emirates and patron of the Al-Maktoum Foundation.
The spokesman said: “The college highly appreciates the foundation’s and its patron’s generosity to support the college’s purely scientific, intellectual and non-faith-based activities to promote the cross-cultural understanding of Islam and Muslims in conjunction with members of other religions and none in such a crucial time.
“This is an extremely interesting time for the college, representing in many ways a new phase for us here in Dundee.
“We are determined to run contemporary post-graduate programmes along with diploma courses that we believe will prove dynamic and helpful in terms of academic back-up to our post-graduate students.”