Princess Nora Bint Abdul Rahman University

DCU Business School is participating in a major project in partnership with the College of Business and Administration at Princess Nora Bint Abdul Rahman University (PNU), Saudi Arabia. This initiative demonstrates DCU’s ability to customise our course offerings to meet local requirements.
An interview with Dr John McMackin

Director, Centre for Executive International Programmes, DCU Business School

Objectives & Impact

The programme with PNU came about after the President of DCU, Professor Brian McCraith, addressed a major education conference in Riyadh in 2011. During the event he was approached by Saudi education officials who liked what they heard and saw much of what they wanted to do in what DCU had achieved since its foundation as a university in 1989, which has resulted in a ranking in the prestigious QS “Top 50 Under 50” listing of the world's top 50 universities established within the last 50 years.

According to Dr Anne Sinnott, Executive Dean of the DCU Business School”

“One of the things they really liked about us was that we are new. DCU is in the Top 50 Under 50 and what they want is to get there as quickly as possible. We were a natural fit and able to explain how we got there and support them along the way.”

A productive partnership

Over the initial four years of the project almost 600 Saudi female students will participate in the programme, which will lead to the award of a Bachelor Degree of Business Studies and International Finance or a Bachelor Degree of Marketing, Innovation and Technology by DCU. At its height, the project will involve a team of over 20 DCU staff teaching for a full semester in Riyadh whilst remaining digitally connected to core learning services.  

DCU faculty spend a full semester based at PNU’s state of the art campus.  To date, faculty report that the experience is very positive. Dr. Ann Largey was one of the first DCU faculty to teach at PNU and comments:

"Initially I signed up teach in PNU for one semester. I had no pre-judgement about the culture in KSA, how the university would operate or the standard of students, so really had formed no expectations before going. The fact that I am returning for next year clearly indicates that my experience there has been very positive. 
The majority of our students on the two programmes are excellent: bright, questioning, innovative and motivated young women. They are aware of the changes in the domestic job market and want to be primed to avail of the opportunities opening up for them. Teaching these students over the past year has been a pleasure and, despite the language disadvantage they face, their performance has at least matched that of our home DCU students, with the best of the DCU @ PNU students out-performing our home students.”

While the project is generating important resources that help fund the development of the Business School and DCU, its impact goes well beyond that. In a society where the education of women at third level (higher education) is a relatively recent phenomenon, the impact of obtaining a DCU degree on the lives of these young women is likely to be very significant.  More importantly, DCU has committed as part of this project to transfer to PNU staff the capability to deliver programmes of this quality without external support. This will ensure that, long after the initial intervention has been completed, the DCU @ PNU project will continue to make an important contribution to DCU’s mission of transforming lives and societies.