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Universities with Qatar campuses monitor diplomatic chaos

June 05, 2017 - 3:14 PM

American universities said branch campuses in Qatar were operating normally Monday while they monitored diplomatic developments in the Gulf nation.

After Saudi Arabia and other Arab powers severed diplomatic ties and shut down land, sea and air links with the energy-rich nation, Northwestern University, Texas A&M University, Georgetown University, Virginia Commonwealth University said they were keeping their Qatar faculty and students informed while summer classes continued.

"The safety and security of our students, faculty and staff are top priorities of the university," Northwestern spokesman Alan Cubbage said in a statement echoed by the others.

The universities, along with Weill Cornell Medical College and Carnegie Mellon University, have programs in Qatar's "Education City" complex, which was established by the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development to enable Qataris and others to earn U.S. degrees without going abroad.

Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates accused Qatar of supporting terror groups in the region and began withdrawing their diplomatic staff. Regional airlines announced they would suspend service to Qatar's capital, Doha, where the 25,000-acre Education City is situated.

Qatar has denied the allegations.

"It is too early to know the real impact on VCU Qatar, including travel plans of our students, faculty and staff," said Pamela DiSalvo Lepley, spokeswoman at Virginia Commonwealth University, whose Qatar campus has 28 students enrolled for the summer session. About 365 students are enrolled during the academic year.

The Qatar Foundation was established in 1995 by then-ruler of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani. Members of the ruling family and influential government ministers serve as trustees and directors.

"We are monitoring the situation closely and keeping our community apprised through regular communications," Georgetown University said in a statement. Its Qatar campus has about 10 current students from the affected countries, the statement said.

Two students from the countries that severed relations are enrolled at Northwestern University-Qatar for the summer, out of 90 overall, Cubbage said. Fewer than 20 students from the Gulf countries are enrolled at that school for the fall.

Carnegie Mellon said it was conferring with the State Department and monitoring the situation. "The university will offer any necessary assistance to any members of our community who may be affected," the university said in a statement.

The university doesn't have a summer session but said there were currently a "small number of students on campus." During the academic year, about 400 students are enrolled at its Qatar campus.

Cornell University declined to comment to The Associated Press.

News from © The Associated Press, 2017
The Associated Press

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