REP’s journey as AUB’s global outreach arm

Sally Abou Melhem, Office of Communcations, sa256@aub.edu.lb​


Since its inception in 1976, AUB’s office for Regional External Programs (REP) has gone through several phases of growth and transformation over more than four decades, expanding from positioning AUB as an academic and educational services provider, to establishing itself as AUB’s consulting and entrepreneurial arm. 

“Through REP we are able to expand our economic, academic and intellectual footprints beyond the wall of this university,” said Dr. Fadlo R. Khuri, President of AUB.

On the occasion of REP’s 40th anniversary, Dr. Abdul Hamid Hallab, the first to head REP, talked about its early years and said that, despite the civil strife in Lebanon at the time, the office “managed to maintain and even expand its presence in the region and enrich its research portfolio through local and international funding agencies.” 

Over the years, REP’s geographic spread grew to reach 30 countries, offering a large and diverse scope of professional services that cater for both the private and the public sectors, and reaching over $200 million in face value of over 1,000 projects. 

“REP is more than just generating revenue or making friends, it is about making AUB’s impact more global and enhancing that impact,” said Dr. Khuri.

Drawing on AUB’s academic resources and expertise, REP continues to offer technical assistance in a wide spectrum of areas including educational development and support; health and wellbeing, environment, technology, and energy; agricultural support; entrepreneurial, community, and civic leadership; management consulting and studies; training and capacity building; seminars, workshops, and executive education; as well as continuing education.

2017: a year of growth
In 2017, REP maintained the diversity of its services with a geographic spread in 13 countries, including Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, and China, as well as paving the way for expansion in Cote D’Ivoire, Tanzania, and Kazakhstan. High confidence in AUB’s consulting work was reflected through the total number of projects for this year, which reached 77 projects with 43% repeat clients.

Some highlights of REP’s achievements for 2017 include the collaboration with AUB’s Global Health Institute on establishing a humanitarian management diploma, which will build on the already existing certificate in humanitarian essentials offered at the Continuing Education Center. Aiming to intensify the University’s national and regional role in the humanitarian sector among others, REP signed multiple MOUs, including the first one in AUB’s history with a Chinese university. Other MOUs were signed with World Learning for development and humanitarian projects, Disaster Recovery for online humanitarian training, and the Global Houmard and Co. Foundation in Switzerland for cooperation in humanitarian training. 

Also in 2017, REP contributed in strengthening AUB’s impact on quality higher education in the region by signing an academic consultancy contract with Al-Mana’ College of Health Sciences in Khobar, Saudi Arabia; as well as securing a number of high impact projects with international aid organizations such as World Bank, UNICEF, UNRWA, and others. In addition, REP signed a consultancy agreement for a feasibility study and business plan for a new private American University in Sudan to establish an American style university in Khartoum benchmarked against AUB. REP also provided assistance to Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman University, which is the first university for women in Saudi Arabia and the largest in the world for women, as well as Ahfad University for Women in Sudan.

“Our region is extremely rich.  However, our wealth is not in our oil or gas.  Our true wealth is in our youth who represent our future,” said Dr. Hassan Diab, Vice President for REP.

REP’s Continuing Education Center (CEC) in 2017

In addition to over 200 courses culminating in 20 certificates and 10 diplomas, CEC also houses the Journalism and Communication Training Program (JCTP), University for Seniors (UfS), and a corporate training arm. The annual student count last year exceeded 2,200 which increased ten-fold compared to a decade ago. 

In September 2017, CEC received the International Star for Quality award, gold category, at the Business Initiative Directions international convention in Geneva.

One of CEC’s achievements in 2017 includes obtaining the approval of AUB’s Board of Trustees for associate alumni status for CEC diploma graduates. 

In addition, the UfS program, which supports adults who want to be intellectually and socially engaged and active contributors to their communities, continues its successful programs. CEC has also secured funding to train 1,675 Syrian refugees over five years on topics that add value to their knowledge and employability in English language, project management, and teacher education.

In the near future, CEC will be launching online programs that will yield a higher number of registrants and enhance AUB’s visibility and impact. In addition to that, an MOU was signed with Southern New Hampshire University in the US to provide joint online courses and professional certificate programs. Another MOU was signed with a US-based NGO to provide online modules for some of the requirements of the newly launched CEC certificate program in humanitarian assistance.

For the first time in CEC’s 50-year history, two endowments where secured, including $100,000 for the WAAAUB Abu Dhabi Chapter CEC Scholarship Fund and $500,000 for the Aisha Al-Mana Endowment Fund to support workshops and training for professionals in the health sciences sector. More recently, REP received an endowment of $1.5 million from the Medical Welfare Trust Fund (MWTF) to provide training to healthcare professionals in the West Bank.Building on the growth and success of 2017, REP continues to work on realizing its mission to provide the Middle East and North Africa with world class professional services covering the entire scope of expertise available at AUB in a manner reflecting the University’s core values and its commitment to service excellence. 

“We will accept nothing less than to play a pivotal role in impacting the education map of excellence in the region and beyond,” said VP Diab.