GW will offer long-distance learning courses to six members of the Saudi Arabian royal family this fall.
The students will take courses over the Internet, rather than coming to campus, because of safety concerns. A representative of the royal family told the University that the students liked GW’s programs but were worried about traveling to the United States.
GW faculty members have also been offered the option of traveling to Saudi Arabia to teach. The University has not decided which professors will instruct the Saudi family.
“This is perfectly consistent with the normal correspondence courses,” said Craig Linebaugh, associate vice president of academic affairs. “We are using existing courses and material as well as adding more options online, which will benefit all students.”
The program has stirred controversy within the educational community; many find the willingness to educate wealthy members of a controversial political regime unusual. But GW officials said they see it as a unique opportunity, and has not expressed security concerns.
Dean of the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences William Frawley said GW officials considered the idea on three grounds: if it fit with the mission of GW and CCAS, if it could it be done while maintaining GW’s challenging academic standards and if it was logistically feasible.
Frawley said all of the questions could be answered with a resounding “yes.”
“We have a long track record of international education and alternative delivery of education. From our experience, we knew that we could deliver the world-class GW education with no diminution of standards,” he said. “We think it is an excellent program and we expect to continue to do imaginative things generally in distance education.”