Kuwait is the home of date palms, oil production, sun and sand.
And, more recently, it hosts an Algonquin College campus.
The campus opened in the fall of 2015 and offers diplomas in business, English and in advanced technology related fields.
The most popular program at the campus is the business management and entrepreneurship program.
The campus currently has 230 students enrolled, according to David McHardy, president of the Kuwait campus, and interest in the campus has been increasing since its inception.
“When we first opened, despite all the signage, we were told the majority of people thought we were a hospital,” McHardy said in a phone interview with the Times, adding that the campus’ location was contributing factor in the number of students enrolling.
“Our campus isn’t in downtown Kuwait. It’s in a rural suburb.”
The majority of the students are Kuwaitis, of which approximately 60 per cent are attending via domestic scholarships. The rest come from various countries.
“At any time we could have eight or 10 different nationalities, including Canadians,” McHardy said.
The student body is currently around 50 per cent male 50 per cent female he said. That’s a big change from the campus’s beginning, when it was around 70 per cent male.
McHardy said that come fall, the campus expects to have a total of 120 alumni. He also stated that students typically further their education, as opposed to enter the work-field upon graduation.
“The vast majority of students want an undergraduate degree. They see a diploma as step towards a degree, as opposed to a step towards working,” McHardy said, though some students do open their own businesses and work upon graduation.
“One of the food outlets in our cafeteria is run by people that are currently students and people that have graduated,” according to McHardy.
This focus on entrepreneurship and business is critical in Kuwait.
“Self-employment is a very big part of the future vision of the Kuwait government for the Kuwaitis,” McHardy said, adding that the majority of the GDP in Kuwait is from the public sector.
The Kuwaiti government is pushing to get more people into the private sector and Algonquin is helping them do this.
“We see ourselves being very in tune with the government’s position and well positioned in terms of putting out graduates that are ready to start their businesses.”
McHardy believes the institution stands out because it is the only one offering credentials in entrepreneurship, and is the only Canadian institution in Kuwait, which is something he says is easily noticed.
“When you’re walking in the halls of Algonquin College Kuwait you definitely know you’re in a college that blends Algonquin College of Canada with Kuwait.”