Omani students share Northwest Indiana experience through PNW sponsorship


Half a world away, 1,000 students who have never seen Northwest Indiana are sharing the PNW experience.

Bayan College in Muscat, Oman, is effectively PNW’s sister school.  Since it was founded in 2006, Bayan has counted on PNW as an academic partner that offers educational programming, ongoing guidance and visiting faculty support.

This year PNW will be putting its fourth five-year contract in place with Bayan, furthering the academic partnership.

Purdue Northwest began its collaboration with Bayan because the government in Oman requires private colleges to develop a partnership with an experienced foreign university to oversee the college. For Bayan, PNW serves as a sponsor providing consultation, site visits, assessments and curriculum development.  Intercampus visitation and teaching opportunities for students and faculty are also an advantage of this partnership, promoting cross-cultural collaboration.

“Our role is to provide guidance on their academic programs, their academic program has to match ours, that’s the requirement of the country of Oman. Which is why you have to have a sponsored university,” said PNW Chancellor Thomas Keon.

PNW was approached 15 years ago by Juma Saleh Al-Ghailani, who was venturing into the university business in Oman to contribute to the country. With a vision to create a liberal arts college focusing on English and communication, PNW agreed to provide counsel for developing the college by working with accreditors, supplying curriculum and hiring faculty. PNW receives an annual stipend for consulting.

“None of us had necessarily built a university before. We learned to do this together and it’s gone awfully well . . . We do site visits, bring faculty and students there to teach or visit and meet with the minister of higher education” said Richard Rupp, PNW’s chief of staff, who has worked closely with the oversight of Bayan over the years.

Provided by PNW, Bayan’s curriculum is almost identical to the general education programs here. Courses are all taught in English to the Arabic-speaking students.

“I always admire the students at Bayan because they are going to college in a second language, that’s pretty tough,” said Rupp. “They all tend to do a first year in what we call foundation English language prep, then they launch into the curriculum.”

Students attending Bayan College receive a degree from Bayan, not PNW.

PNW faculty and students have visited Oman several times, taking advantage of the opportunity to teach at Bayan and experience the country.

“We have faculty go there regularly, but not for prolonged periods of time. Usually anywhere from 1-to-6 weeks,” said Rupp. “We also have brought PNW students to Oman who are very eager to one day return and teach at Bayan.”

Encouragement of women achieving academic success in Oman is also a focus of both universities.

“There was a void there, the women didn’t have opportunities,” said Keon.

The ratio of women to men at Bayan is nine to one.

A constant shared goal between Bayan and PNW is to improve overall quality for students and further progress for Bayan by adopting new programs.

“Right now, at Bayan, we’re working on a cyber security program,” said Rupp. “Bayan is very focused on adopting programs that will produce jobs for their students.”

After a recent visit to Oman in February, Rupp noticed significant progress for the university.

“After this period of time the faculty is of higher quality than it has ever been, partly because they’re staying longer, and students are improving by becoming more acclimated to a culture of question and answer,” he said. “There is now a much more interactive experience going on in the classroom.”