New Beginnings

by Apple Sharma

Sat, 07 July 2018

New Beginnings

British University of Bahrain (BUB) vice president Professor Keith Sharp shares exciting new plans ahead of its opening.

‘Seek Knowledge’ is BUB’s motto, and with Keith in the driver’s seat, it’s coming to fruition as he sets the wheels in motion.

Hailing from the UK, he has taken charge at BUB, which will open its doors at the end of September. “I’ve worked in education all my life, as a lecturer, a dean and then as a director of international programmes,” he says. 

He worked at London School of Economics before coming to Bahrain, and was leading the international academic programmes at an institution here before the opportunity to start BUB arose.

As vice president, he is responsible for the entire academic affairs of the university. “All of our programmes come from the University of Salford in Manchester, so my role is to make sure they are according to Salford requirements, and that the university meets all of the local requirements in Bahrain and the Higher Education Council, and also the quality of education that we offer is as good as it can possibly be,” he explains. 

Of the close partnership, Keith says: “We considered a range of British universities and felt that Salford was the best fit with what was needed in Bahrain. It has a very long tradition of working with industries, so all students will have opportunities for placements. The idea is to produce graduates who haven’t just studied in the classroom but are ready to work and be employed. We felt that in Bahrain there was an over-emphasis of classroom learning, and wanted to provide a different type of education – focused on producing a certain type of graduate that industries need.

“BUB is an exclusive partner of Salford. We’re effectively its branch campus in Bahrain, although we’re constituted as an independent university in our own right. All programmes, assessment and awards are made by the University of Salford.”

Providing a seamless movement between the two campuses, students can transfer to Manchester any time after they’ve completed their foundation year. BUB offers nine undergraduate programmes, which are organised into three colleges. “We have the College of Engineering and Built Environment, which offers civil engineering, quantity surveying, construction project management, and property and real estate,” Keith explains. “We chose this because they are strengths of Salford and subjects that we identified Bahrain needs.

Currently, areas like quantity surveying and construction management are not available as degree programmes here, so this is an opportunity for students to become qualified in areas that are needed by the economy.
“We have the College of Information and Communications Technology, focusing on computer networks and software engineering – both important in Bahrain, relevant in fields like fintech and information technology. And finally, the College of Business that has marketing, business and management, and accounting and finance – disciplines that all businesses need.

“We already have an exclusive partnership with Batelco to work in the telecommunications field. We’ll be signing some more agreements with representatives from other industries, particularly in the building sector.”
The new campus, with a 10-storey building, is located at Atrium Mall and Towers in Saar. It offers great facilities, including computing and engineering labs, a large multi-purpose hall, a students’ lounge and a wonderful view of Bahrain.

The admissions are in full swing and will continue over the summer until the end of September, when the classes start. Open to all, BUB is attracting students from around the world, with 100 to 200 anticipated by September. It also aims to introduce a range of Master’s programmes – taught by Salford faculty and offered as part-time for working professionals. 

“We hope to be able to bring the Salford PhD programme to Bahrain, which will allow people who already have their Master’s to continue their education further, without having to move abroad,” Keith adds.

Passionate about teaching, Keith – a sociology professor – will be tutoring one of the mandatory courses, and says he enjoys the variety that his job offers.  

Having been here for three and a half years, Keith loves Bahrain, the generosity and kindness of the locals, and still gets excited by the fact that the sun shines every day.

I’ve worked in education all my life.”