Four European Universities will have their campuses at Bahrain’s first Education City, which will be built with a $90million (BD34m) budget for the first phase.
The Education City Company (ECC) signed an agreement on the project with Jonkoping University of Sweden, which represents the consortium of European universities, at the Intercontinental Regency yesterday. The city will be built in an area of 50,000sqm and will enroll about 2,000 students in business, engineering and fine arts, ECC chief executive officer Omar Al Mannai told a Press conference.
“The various-segments of the project with a total outlay of $90m in the first phase consist of the university, Business Development Innovation Centre (BDIC), accommodation block comprising semi-apartments, a four-star hotel, and a convention centre”, he revealed.“ The question that arises in everybody’s mind is whether this is the right time to set up a project of this size given the current economic downturn. “The answer is quite simple. In the present scenario, the pre-requisite for any education-related project is whether, ultimately, the student will be employed or not”.
“The focus of the education city, said Mr Al Mannai, is to find the right education environment, synergizing skills and business developments. “The university will build modern vocational training facilities focusing on special needs of the regional industrial needs”, he added.
“BDIC will be built on 10,000 square meters of land and will consist of laboratories, office spaces, advanced information and communication technology (ICT) equipment, conference rooms, light assembly facilities and library.
“It will be operated jointly by lonkoping University and Europeconsultans DTM. “In addition to offering space, communication facilities, secretarial and book keeping assistance, marketing support, it will also be a joint venture partner with the tenants who sign up in BDIC”.
The 30,000 square metre accommodation block will consist of semi-apartments, convention centre and hotel, said mr Al Mannai. “Semi-apartments will be allotted to students at a highly subsidized rate”, he added.
“We are planning to have 300 units. To complete the education city and make it self sufficient, it is proposed to have a budget hotel with 200 rooms. “These are mainly to cater to the parents who visit their children and those seeking new admissions. Also, it will serve participants in conferences.” The hotel will include an exhibition and convention centre with a capacity to hold 1,000 people.
The state-of-the-art centre will host regional, national and international conventions, meetings and trade shows.The BDIC will start operating in a leased premises later this year, said Mr Al Mannai. For the academic year 2010, the university will also start operations in leased premises.
The Education City’s own buildings with all amenities will be ready by the last quarter of 2011, Mr Al Mannai revealed. “We propose to target middle class families from Bahrain and Saudi Arabia”, he added.
Jonkoping University president Thomas Anderson said the project would be a reflection of co-operation in the field of knowledge between Europe and the Gulf, with Bahrain at the centre. “The current period of economic recession is not only a time of crisis, but also of opportunities”, he noted. “This is the right to make long-term investment in the field of education”. The consortium represents universities from four countries – Sweden, Italy, Germany and France, said Euroconsultants partner S V Raghuram.
“Four-year degree programmes will be offered initially in business studies in fine arts and humanities, as well as vocational training”, he ____ the GDN. “The Education City’s location has not yet been finalised. It may be somewhere near Jasra”.