Karen tells us about her role in Qatar, working with both staff and students to deliver an exceptional University of Aberdeen experience. 

Tell us about your role at the University

In 2017 the University began a partnership with the Al Faleh Group for Educational and Academic Services. This saw the launch of the first international branch in Qatar as AFG College with the University of Aberdeen. The Qatar campus opened in September 2017 and is currently offering two undergraduate degrees: Business Management and Accountancy & Finance, with plans to deliver two postgraduate programmes (MBA and MSc International Business Management) from October 2018. 

My role is that of Provost, the only resident UOA staff position in Qatar, although the teaching is supported by flying faculty from the Business School. My responsibilities are to manage and oversee the academic delivery and quality assurance of the teaching programmes delivered and ensure that the students in Qatar have a University of Aberdeen student experience.

How do you usually start your day?

Almost every day in Doha is a warm, sunny day, which is a great start. My morning begins with a coffee and then I start answering emails. I work closely with the Principal of AFG College, the Marketing and Recruitment team and the Student Services team, as well as teaching staff based in Doha and those in the Business School in Aberdeen. So we have a quick catch up to see what is happening and what we are going to be doing that day.

What brought you to the University of Aberdeen?

I started working for the University of Aberdeen in 2002, after returning from a 2 year stay in Doha with my husband’s work. I worked in the Medical School for 15 years in a number of roles, latterly as Admissions Lead and Lead for Student Support. I applied for the Provost role because of my experience in Qatar previously.

What’s your favourite thing about your job?

I have two favourite things. Firstly, the huge satisfaction of being able to bring an Aberdeen degree to students who would not have been able to access this education in Scotland. Students here are very friendly and welcoming and are thrilled to have this opportunity. Secondly, the challenge of setting up an institution from scratch, which has certainly had its moments! I am involved in all areas of University life from admissions to graduation and everything in between, which is a fantastic experience as well as responsibility, and I have had great support from all departments in Aberdeen.

What are your work priorities at the moment?

This month we have been welcoming our new undergraduate students and ensuring they are registered, have access to MyAberdeen, and are settling in. 

We are also planning the induction and teaching for two new postgraduate programmes which will start in October.
We had a recent visit from the AUSA CEO, Margaret Paterson and so we will take forward the development of student societies and clubs and ensure that students in Doha have access to all the benefits of being a member of AUSA.

Another priority area is to develop our networks in Doha, to raise our profile and establish partnerships for educational and research collaborations.

Lastly, we have started planning for Phase 2, which will involve a purpose-built University campus in Doha delivering a range of undergraduate and postgraduate programmes including STEM subjects.

How do you like to relax outside work?

I am enjoying getting to know Doha, which has changed enormously since we lived here in 2002. I have been trying to learn a little Arabic, although the staff and students find it hugely entertaining when I try a few words! My children have insisted I start watching Game of Thrones, so that should keep my evenings occupied for a few months.