UCL Qatar celebrates its last cohort of graduates and looks back at the last 10 years

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UCL Qatar, a Partner University of Qatar Foundation, hosted its final graduation ceremony on 13 December 2020, graduating 108 students in doctoral programmes and master degrees in Library and Information Studies and Museum and Gallery Practice. The virtual ceremony was held alongside the university’s closing event. This event celebrated UCL Qatar’s achievements over the last 10 years in the country, marking the completion of its Agreement with Qatar Foundation.

The last cohort of graduates joined the online ceremony from 12 countries across Europe, Asia and the Gulf. 29 different nationalities were represented, of which eight were Qatari nationals and 70% were women. Over 80% of graduates have already secured employment in leading local and global organisations, including Qatar National Library, Qatar Museums and the National Museum of Australia.  

During the online event, senior leaders of UCL and Qatar Foundation reflected on a decade of outstanding academic excellence and the positive impact this has had for Qatar. Dr Sam Evans, Director of UCL Qatar, addressed attendees saying; “As we bring to a close UCL Qatar’s operations, your achievements and those of our 331 former students will continue to have huge impact in Qatar and in whichever place your life and career take you. My colleagues and I hope that you will treasure the experience with UCL Qatar and Qatar Foundation, and the privilege that comes with the opportunity to work in a multicultural environment and on transnational projects. A global outlook made even wider and more significant by the challenges of this last year.”

UCL Alumni and senior UCL Qatar faculty members also joined the event to congratulate graduates and reflect on their own time at Qatar Foundation’s Education City. Graduate Speaker Asmaa Al-Maadheed, a Qatari Language Teacher and Library and Information Professional who attained an MA in Library and Information Studies this year, said “I am most thankful for the enlightening and challenging projects that encouraged us to find new ways to solve important issues, both locally and in the broader world of Library and Information Science. Joining the Library and Information Studies programme helped me realise the breadth of my knowledge and provided the roadmap for how I can grow my skills in the future.  It has been a truly amazing process.”

UCL Qatar was established in 2010 as a partnership between University College London and Qatar Foundation to develop and operate a centre for the study of cultural heritage and knowledge management. Its mission was to “create the best environment for advanced research and learning excellence in the cultural heritage sector, to support Qatar’s National Vision 2030 (QNV 2030)”. Over the past decade, its programmes have educated and developed a diverse, international student body. Over 300 masters and doctoral students have graduated from UCL Qatar since the launch of its postgraduate and doctoral academic programmes in Conservation, Museums and Gallery Practice, Archaeology of the Arab and Islamic World, Academic Research and Methods, and Library and Information Studies. Many of the university’s alumni have gone on to take senior roles in the cultural sectors in Qatar and the wider region. 

During its time in Qatar, the University has also worked closely with Qatar Museums and Qatar Foundation on a variety of research and community projects. In recognition of this, Mr Ahmad Musa Al-Namla, Chief Executive Officer at Qatar Museums said; “Over the past decade, we have enjoyed a remarkable relationship with UCL-Qatar that has seen us collaborate on numerous projects. From training and seminars, to archaeological fieldwork and heritage research, we have enjoyed an immensely fruitful relationship.”  

Dr. Richard O’Kennedy, Vice President for Research, Development and Innovation, Qatar Foundation, also addressed attendees at the event, adding; “The impact of UCL Qatar’s academic endeavour will continue to inform the cultural heritage and knowledge management sectors and professions for years to come. I am certain that, going forward, there is much scope for fruitful collaborations between Qatar Foundation and UCL, as one of the world’s top universities.” 

UCL QATAR – A CENTRE OF EXCELLENCE FOR CULTURAL HERITAGE STUDIES 

In line with the University’s global engagement strategy, UCL will transition its current Qatar operations from a physical campus to a London-based partnership approach. Despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, over the past year UCL Qatar has continued to build on its work to develop Qatar’s competency in the fields of cultural heritage and knowledge management, by adapting its ways of working to the challenges presented by a global pandemic. 

The successful completion of the 10-year agreement with Qatar Foundation has produced a network of alumni who are today contributing to the development of the Qatari and global workforce. UCL remains open to possible future collaborations with Qatari institutions and is committed to its existing projects with Qatar Foundation for the delivery of the MA in Educational Leadership and with the UCL’s Institute of Metabolic Studies established in collaboration with Aspire and the Qatar Red Crescent.

UCL entered into an agreement with Qatar Foundation in 2010 to deliver academic programmes focusing on cultural heritage in Qatar and the wider Arab world – and during this period has successfully contributed to Qatar’s development as a leading centre of excellence for cultural heritage and knowledge management. Following an extensive joint review of the centre’s operations, the decision not to renew the 10-year contract was taken jointly by UCL and Qatar Foundation in 2016, in consultation with key stakeholders.