It’s no secret that Cape Breton University is a post secondary educational facility that embraces the cultural mosiac widely evident across Canada. The partnership between CBU and the Australian College of Kuwait (ACK) is a great example in showcasing the benefits of a world international educational system.
Kuwait is a northeastern, man-made country, on the border of Iraq and Saudi Arabia. It is roughly twice the size of Cape Breton, with a population of approximately 2.8 million. Kuwait could possibly be refered to as the “little country that could” having rebuilt itself after a devastating gulf war in 1990 and the starting point for the US lead military hunt for Saddam Hussein in 2003. Like Canada, Kuwaits use of natural resources help build their country as one of the leaders in petroleum products and today it stands as the 11th richest country in the world.
Cape Breton University was given the opportunitiy to form a partnership with ACK after its President, Vishy Karri, conducted a search of potential universities by way of online research and CBU was chosen. In October of 2012, Vishvanath (Vishy) Karri was bestowed an honorary (Doctorate of Letters, honoris causa) degree from Cape Breton University.
Lucia MacIsaac was the Academic Lead on petroleum projects here at CBU when President Vishy Karri first inquired about forming a partnership. In an interview with Lucia regarding the initial stages of the partnership she stated it was an “opportunity for both institutions to grow and expand globally”.
Both institutions are experienced in dealing with partnerships, with ACK having partnerships in Australia and the UK and CBU with over 50 partnerships worldwide. Having this type of experience has helped this partnership to transition into a successful opportunity for both institutions. CBU is leading the way in terms of training and instruction. In the beginning stages of this partnership, it was decided that it would be most beneficial to have a duplicate petroleum simulator installed on campus in Kuwait in order to give students at ACK, the same level of training offered here at CBU.
Why Cape Breton University? According to Allen Britten, Dean of Science and Technology at the time the partnership was initiated, it was a multitude of things, including CBU’s experience, reputation, and a chance to enhance the student experience.
The Bachelor of Engineering Technology (BET) program from Cape Breton University offered at the Australian College of Kuwait, provides students the opportunity to complete a degree program. Students could choose between a Engineering and Technology (electronics and control) degree or an Engineering and Technology (Petroleum) degree, once they completed the pre-requisite diploma with the required GPA. According to the ACK website, “graduates are qualified to work in Petroleum industries including the oil and gas sector exploration, drilling, and production operations in the marine environment”.
“Experience” was the key to a smooth transition, according to Britten, when asked about any obstacles in the initial stages of the partnership. Following standards, open communication and visitation to the campus (both in Cape Breton and in Kuwait) were imparitive in making the degree program run successfully. The benefits of this type of partnership have allowed CBU opportunity to connect with the industry in Kuwait, through its corporate training arm “LearnCorp”. This provides the opportunity for “training as well as education” according to Lucia MacIsaac.
As with any global venture, the partnership between CBU and ACK has been most beneficial and a partnership like this helps provide students with a better understanding of diversity. It teaches them acceptance, and respect for others. The total enrollment for the academic year 2012-2013 offered in Kuwait is 116 students. This is made up of 31 students in Electronics and Controls and 85 students enrolled in the Petroleum degree program. By bridging the gap between countries and cultures, it opens a world of possibilities to all students, regardless of location on the globe. The partnership provides tourism for Cape Breton as well. The possiblity of sharing our beautiful island with the rest of the world is highlighted through partnerships like these, and provides a connection for students in Kuwait to Cape Breton University. According to MacIsaac, “When students search the website of our university and discover all the things CBU has to offer, their curiosity is peaked and the decision to visit our province becomes more alluring”.