Come September, 250 UMass Lowell graduate students will be working towards a degree in business, computer science, engineering, education and security studies — and they will complete their coursework more than 6,000 miles away from the Lowell campus.
Through a unique partnership between UMass Lowell and Waltham-based Raytheon Co., the university will offer undergraduate and graduate degrees at Kuwait’s Gulf University for Science and Technology (GUST) — the first and only American University to grant U.S.-accredited degrees in Kuwait.
As the University of Massachusetts campus system expands its international presence, Raytheon has pledged to invest a reported $50M over the next seven years to establish educational programs in Kuwait for UMass Lowell, with the remaining funding for the program coming from tuition and fees paid by Kuwaiti students.
In addition to collaborating on dual-degree programs, the expansion allows UMass Lowell to offer five undergraduate and 11 graduate degrees overseen and taught by UMass Lowell administrators and faculty on the campus of GUST, which was established in 2002. And with Raytheon’s support, a new engineering college will be established on the GUST campus to serve students of both institutions.
According to the UMass Lowell website, the goal of the program is to help Kuwait expand educational opportunities in order to diversify the skills of the workforce, and identify collaborative research and innovation opportunities.
UMass Lowell administrators and faculty are currently working overseas at GUST to build the undergraduate and graduate degree curriculums. Once they are fully established, an estimated 1,200 students are expected to enroll in the program, drawing from both UMass Lowell and Kuwaiti students. Enrollment began in January of the Spring 2015 semester.
While a partnership between an educational institute and a military-defense company may sound unusual, UMass Lowell and Raytheon have a long-standing relationship which blossomed well before the academic-industry partnership was made official, as Raytheon currently employs an estimated 1,000 UMass graduates and hires many engineers from UMass Lowell.
Supporting UMass Lowell’s program expansion to GUST will also benefit Raytheon’s recruiting efforts, as the Kuwait campus will establish undergraduate and graduate degrees in engineering, giving Raytheon the ability to recruit from a pool of talented international engineers.
The opening of the Raytheon-UMass Lowell Research Institute (RURI) in October 2014 is another recent example of the two collaborating. The facility, located on the UMass Lowell campus, strives to advance innovative technologies in a state-of-the-art setting while providing students with real-world experience.
While the establishment of UMass Lowell’s Kuwait presence contributes to Raytheon’s overall strategy to invest in education, it promotes the school’s commitment to prepare students to be world-ready and increase international partnerships.
UMass Lowell’s ability to expand overseas can be attributed to its rapid growth over the past eight years. Since 2007, enrollment at UMass Lowell has climbed nearly 50 percent, to more than 17,000 students, and 10 new buildings have opened in that timeframe. In addition, UMass Lowell has established international partnerships with 120 educational institutions in 45 nations.
Image via University of Massachusetts Lowell