By LIANE ABBEY
Niagara College is expanding to the Middle East, generating between $5 million and $10 million in revenue to reinvest in its strategic plan.
Saudi Arabia’s largest tourism region is welcoming a Niagara College campus in the city of Taif. The campus, focused on the development of English language training and academic skills acquisition, will welcome its first group of 150 to 200 students in September 2014.
Successful students will advance their education through diploma programs in hospitality, tourism, culinary and business training, much like those offered at the Niagara-on-the-Lake and Welland campuses.
The growing partnership between continents began in 2006 with the development and educational assistance of the King Fiasal Specialist Hospital and Research Centre in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
In this time Niagara College responded to requests for proposals from the Colleges of Excellence of Saudi Arabia (CoE).
The CoE are focused on improving skills training for young Saudi men and women, and are investing multibillion-dollar contributions to create colleges and training centres across the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Niagara College, like many academic institutions worldwide, was asked to submit a bid to one of 26 campuses being built in the kingdom.
Sean Kennedy, vice-president of student and external relations, says the Taif campus was “relatable” to Niagara.
“It was the best fit for us because it was a hospitality and tourism business college much like the N.O.T.L. campus is to Niagara Falls.”
The CoE announced on Feb. 4 Niagara College, above all others, including colleges in Scandinavia, the United Kingdom, Australia, Latin America and the U.S., was selected to be the recipient of a five-year contract to provide training in Taif.
The campus, that can accommodate about 2,000 students, is designed to incorporate all resources needed, as well as a six-storey teaching hotel and restaurant on-campus to sustain hands-on learning opportunities.
Kennedy says the Taif campus will be augmented by already implemented programs’ plans to provide successful hands-on learning.
“They (CoE) really like our onsite learning enterprises at the N.O.T.L. campus, and we are going to draw in from our learning experiences here to help make sure the learning enterprises at the Taif campus are just as successful.”
The international new venture is estimated to gross between $5 million and $10 million in revenue within the first year to reinvest into Niagara College programs and resources, creating additional beneficial opportunities for students. The initiative will also create a greater awareness of Niagara College internationally, upholding its already growing reputation for global involvement.
Sean Coote, director of the International Department here, says that this is a “significant expansion” for the college.
“We’ve been operational in Saudi Arabia for six or seven years and it provides us with a great opportunity to extend our operations around the world as we continue to grow.”
Kennedy agrees with Coote.
“It gives us the opportunity to expand our global linkages in the hospitality and tourism sector, which will also be of benefit to our program here.”
Not only does this new venture benefit Niagara College on a global level but it encompasses the mission statement: Providing outstanding applied education and training for a changing world.