American University of Sharjah

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American University of Sharjah (AUS) (in Arabic: الجامعة الأمريكية في الشارقة) is an independent, not-for-profit coeducational higher educational institution in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, founded in 1997 by Dr. Sultan bin Mohamed Al-Qasimi, Member of the UAE Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah. Its medium of instruction is English, and it is based on American-style universities. AUS consistently ranks among the top universities in the Middle East. The university is the flagship institution in Sharjah's 1,600-acre (6.5 km2) University City, which incorporates a number of other universities, among which is the University of Sharjah.

History

On July 3, 2004, American University of Sharjah (AUS) was granted accreditation by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education in the United States of America. In its final report granting the university accreditation, the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, one of six regional U.S. accrediting agencies, congratulated AUS on its excellent roster of undergraduate and graduate programs, its state-of-the-art campus facilities, its highly qualified faculty and staff, and its dynamic student body.AUS was successful in completing the accreditation process in a relatively short period of time, a fact that was recognized and appreciated by the Commission in its report.

The university became a candidate for accreditation in 2002 and subsequently embarked on an in-depth self-study as part of its application. An evaluation team from the Commission visited the university in March that year. The team, which included administrators and faculty from the United States, reviewed the self-study completed by the university, visited the campus and met with faculty, staff, students, administrators, alumni and employers of AUS graduates. Upon its return to the United States, the team submitted a report as well as its recommendation to the Commission for deliberation in its June meeting the campus and met with faculty, staff, students, administrators, alumni and employers of AUS graduates.

On September 17, 2006, all six of the bachelor of science programs in the College of Engineering at American University of Sharjah were granted accreditation by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET), of the United States of America. With this prestigious international accreditation, AUS has become one of the first universities in the region and the second outside the United States to have its undergraduate programs receive ABET accreditation (the first being the American University in Cairo).

On June 28, 2010, AUS became a member of the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) allowing the university to share its news, activities and accomplishments with the AAC&U community by taking part in their journals, leading workshops and attending its meetings. In addition. The School of Business and Management had entered the final stages of accreditation by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB)

As of August 10, 2010, the College of Architecture, Art and Design has become a full member of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA), while its Bachelor of Architecture program became the first program outside of North America to be granted formal accreditation by the prestigious US-based National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB)

Campus

AUS sits on the southern edge of Sharjah and is approximately ten kilometers southeast of the center of the city and about fifteen kilometers from Dubai. The university offers a full range of amenities including a branch of Sharjah Islamic Bank, a health center, a pharmacy, a barbershop, a full gym, a sports complex, and full-facility dormitories.

Library

Completed in 2006, AUS Library is one of the biggest of its kind in the United Arab Emirates. Focusing on scholarly topics taught at AUS, the AUS Library offers a comprehensive collection to satisfy the needs of AUS students, and faculty. The university library houses a collection of more than 145,000 items, including 110,000 hard-copy items (including books, CDs DVDs etc.), 50 000 electronic books, 262 journals in print, and 50 online databases and indexes that are accessible locally and remotely.

Unique to the university is the AUS Archives department, which is a repository for institutional records that created by various academic and administrative departments of the university. The mission of the Archives is to collect, maintain, preserve, and make available records that are of historical or legal value, as well as records that document the development of the university and the various campus activities.

Sharjah Training and Development Center

The Sharjah Training and Development Center (STDC) is a joint effort of the Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) and the School of Business and Management at the American University of Sharjah (AUS) which aims to provide learning and development opportunities for businesses in Sharjah and the UAE. The two organizations signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to that effect on April 20, 2009.

The center aims to strengthen Sharjah as an international business hub and enhance the capabilities of local businesses and government organizations by providing life-long learning opportunities in courses and programs that integrate regional and global perspectives.

Undergraduate programs
College of Arts and Sciences
  • Bachelor of Arts in English Language and Literature (BAELL)
  • Bachelor of Arts in International Studies (BAIS)
  • Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communication (BAMC)
  • Bachelor of Science in Biology (BSB)
  • Bachelor of Science in Chemistry (BSCH)
  • Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science (BSES)
  • Bachelor of Science in Mathematics (BSM)
College of Architecture, Art and Design
  • Bachelor of Architecture (BArch)
  • Bachelor of Interior Design (BID)
  • Bachelor of Science in Design Management (BSDM)
  • Bachelor of Science in Multimedia Design (BSMD)
  • Bachelor of Science in Visual Communication (BSVC)
College of Engineering
  • Bachelor of Science in Computer Science (BSCS)
  • Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering (BSChE)
  • Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering (BSCE)
  • Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering (BSCoE)
  • Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering (BSEE)
  • Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering (BSME)
School of Business and Management
  • Bachelor of Arts in Economics (BAE)
  • Bachelor of Science in Business Administration (BSBA)
Graduate studies
Masters programs
  • Master of Arts in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (MATESOL)
  • Master of Arts in English/Arabic/English Translation and Interpreting (MATI)
  • Persian Gulf Executive Master of Public Administration (GEMPA)
  • Master of Business Administration (MBA)
  • Master of Science in Engineering Systems Management (MSESM)
  • Master of Science in Mechatronics (MSMTR)
  • Master of Science in Electrical Engineering (MSEE)
  • Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering (MSME)
  • Master of Science in Computer Engineering (MSCoE)
  • Master of Science in Chemical Engineering (MSChE)
  • Master of Science in Civil Engineering (MSCE)
  • Master of Urban Planning (MUP)
Graduate certificates
  • Graduate Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (GCTESOL)
  • Graduate Certificate in Urban Planning (GCUP)
  • Graduate Certificate in Mechatronics Engineering (GCMTR)
  • Graduate Certificate in Museum and Heritage Studies (GCMHS)
Student life
Green initiative

The university has always encouraged the awareness of having a green environment by offering related courses such as Sustainable Design for Architects and Environmental Engineering for Civil Engineers as well as regularly hosting seminars conducted by notable professors. The university has started to set itself as an example of green awareness by first and foremost creating the green SBM (School of Business and Management) building which began construction in Spring 2010 and scheduled to be fully operational by Fall 2011. The university has also taken a drastic step in Spring 2011 by banning smoking throughout the entire academic campus for students, faculty and staff alike except in the poorly ventilated small smokers room in the Student Center; obviously, this decision was rejected by many smokers but management is determined to keep it as they have introduced fines to force the members of their community to abide by the policy. These fines keep escalating for repetitive violators.

Student center

One of the main facilities is the student center complex that acts as the focal point for university students and houses many restaurants, a smokers room and other activities that aim to fulfil its community's needs. However, some students complain about the noisiness of loud music inside the food court that distract them while eating.

Student clubs

The primary role of the student clubs is to promote dialogue, showcase student interests and hobbies, spread cultural diversity and partake in students' educational and personal growth by creating an engaging lifestyle inside and outside AUS. The clubs include several ethnic/national clubs and interest-oriented clubs, such as PowerHit Radio Club, that are registered with the Office of Student Affairs.

However, there are several clubs in the university that act independently and are not registered with OSA. Most of these clubs are clubs that are specific to the different departments and university programs that exist in the university, such as the INSA Student Association.

Student publications

The Leopard Newspaper

The Leopard is an official biweekly university newspaper that brings together the university's pursuits and achievement and puts them to pen. The Leopard bridges the gap between the administration and the student body, helping bring the university closer to the realization of a better institution. The Leopard prioritizes its duties to the students, covering their activities and accomplishments.

It is a creative platform for encouraging literary expression, and one of the many attempts of the university to broaden students' horizons in ways that are interesting to them. The publication has a reputation of allowing emerging artists from the university to display their artwork as well.

Criticism

The high standard of education being offered at AUS is a target of immense criticism by most of its students and alumni.Achieving a high grade point average is deemed impossible by a large percentage of the enrolled students. A GPA of 1.7 is granted on a percentage of 70%, which is the passing percentage and the A grade is on 95% and above. This makes scoring high immensely hard for students as the margin of scoring high with a good grade decreases tremendously. Additionally, it has come to notice that professors follow the 'forced grading system'. This means that a limited number of students will secure the top grades (A or B), whereas a majority will lie in the middle i.e. the C range. Students who have either transferred to similar American universities in Cairo, Beirut or Dubai have been known to score higher, with the same amount of effort they put in at AUS. Some argue that the 'forced grading system' induces a more competitive environment differentiating AUS students from other University Graduates in the region. However, most potential employers and universities refuse to accept this argument as there are hundreds of students with better GPAs from other universities applying for the same seats. One can confirm this by talking to a large number of AUS students who are currently unemployed while the university continues to market itself as the best in standards in the region.

Due to the Global Financial Crisis, AUS declared a reduction of its non-academic work staff by 5% due to the "uncertain conditions" of the economy. AUS Chancellor Peter Heath further indicated that tuition would increase by 12% for the academic year 2009/2010, bringing tuition up to Dh73,000 per year. In response to the changes, disgruntled AUS students launched a facebook group (NO! For the American University of Sharjah Annual Fees Raise) and a petition that would be sent to AUS President Sheikh Sultan bin Mohamed Al-Qasimi. Nevertheless, no solution was found on the issue and the tuition increase went ahead.

Furthermore, AUS announced the imposition of a rule that required students to pay an annual Dh2,500 fee that would be used to purchase books or stationery at the university bookstore. Any unused balance from the Dh2,500 will be forwarded for one academic year only. After that, the unused balance will expire and automatically transferred to a scholarship fund. The university stated that the new rule was created in order to abide by international copyright laws. However, this development caused a controversy that gained nationwide media attention in the UAE through news outlets such as Gulf News and The National.

As a result, AUS students launched a stronger petition in order to stop the new rule from passing. Chancellor Heath responded, "Faculty and, less frequently, students have complained for a number of years about the breaches in academic integrity and international copyright rules that result from significant copying of course materials by students. If we as a university do not seek to enforce these rules, then who will?". Eventually, the petition as well as internal university negotiations decreased the annual fee to Dh1,800. However, the issue of leftover money being automatically transferred to a scholarship fund still exists.

Notable alumni
  • Sheikha Lubna Khalid Al Qasimi, Minister for Foreign Trade and former Minister of Economic and Planning (2004–2008); first woman to hold a ministerial post in the UAE
  • Mahmood Abdul Ghaffar, Lead singer of Bahrain-based heavy metal/thrash metal band Motör Militia
  • Mishal Hamed Kanoo, Deputy Chairman of Kanoo Group
  • Sheikh Rashid bin Humaid Al Nuaimi, Chairman of Ajman Municipality and Planning and Chief of Ajman Club; son of Sheikh Humaid bin Rashid Al Nuaimi, ruler and emir of Ajman
  • Hamad AlHamad, Administrator, Settlement & Central depository of financial securitites, Bahrain.
  • Abdulaal Al Qedra, Engineer.