With a rapid growth in admissions, Qatar University ( QU ) has embarked on a major expansion project worth QR3.5bn ($961.5 million) to address the pressure on its existing facilities.
The university received 5,000 new students during the current academic year, taking the total number to 13,000, which is said to be an all time high.
"The increase in students is really huge and unprecedented. For the university, it is a great achievement to accommodate such huge numbers in one semester. This is the right time to appreciate the hard work of our team," QU chairperson Dr Sheikha bint Abdullah Al Misnad said in an interview with Al Sharq.
She said the classrooms and laboratories tend to face a space crunch due to the high student intake.
"We have adjusted the laboratory timings to accommodate more students. All premises of the university including the library have been used as classrooms. Still there is a continuing pressure on the existing facilities," said Al Misnad.
She said the space crunch will be addressed with completion of the ongoing expansion project.
The university is also facing a shortage of teaching staff and it is trying to address the problem by hiring more teachers and visiting professors. This may have a negative impact on the Qatarization policy in the short term. In the long term, the university is trying to address this issue by preparing qualified Qatari cadres through scholarships and higher education and training programs, said Al Misnad. She said the ambitious expansion project is aimed at meeting the growing demand from different sectors of the Qatari economy and the goals of the Qatar National Vision 2030.
The project includes a new research center complex that will be opened this month. The 21,500 square meter facility will bring all the research activities under one roof, with six main units and 47 specialized laboratories.
Various colleges including engineering, pharmacy, law and education will be expanded with more facilities. There will be new building for student services.
"All the new buildings will have an environment-friendly design, which will also be a combination of traditional and modern architecture," said Al Misnad.
The project also includes construction of a multi-storey parking facility with a capacity for 1,600 cars.
There is a plan for a new staff accommodation and shopping center inside the campus. New student hostels will be ready in the south west side of the campus by the fourth quarter of next year. A new stadium with 43,520 seats will be constructed at the university premises for the FIFA World Cup in 2022.
The university will also have a big metro station close to the stadium as part of the Doha metro project.
Al Misnad said the university had reached agreements with the CCQ and CNA-Q to upgrade the skills of prospective graduates.