The Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts in Qatar (VCUarts Qatar) recently welcomed new and returning students, staff and faculty to the new academic year. The first semester of the school year will be conducted in-person at the VCUarts Qatar campus in Education City. VCUarts Qatar is a partner university of Qatar Foundation

The first week kicked off with an orientation programme for new students. A separate programme was held by the university’s department of Human Resources for faculty and staff. The three-day programme for the newly-joined undergraduate and graduate students was led by VCUarts Qatar Student Government Association and the Department of Students Affairs.

Dean Amir Berbić, who led the welcome, said that it’s always a privilege to welcome a new class, to see a collection of untapped creative potential raring to explore and experience what the university has to offer.

Believe me when I say that today your energy is palpable to the rest of VCUarts Qatar’s close-knit family.

He said that the previous year taught them that restrictions cannot curb creativity and on the contrary, VCUarts Qatar seemed to thrive on it. He added that the new students are capable of doing the same.

You’ve all worked your way across multiple challenges to earn a place in the region’s topmost art and design school. And now it’s your turn to flourish. Hence, over the next few years, I see you taking full advantage of what we have to offer: our programmes, our world-class resources, and our experienced faculty and staff who are here to assist you at every step of your journey at VCUarts Qatar. 

The new students were introduced to directors, heads and chairs of the various academic and non-academic departments, who also gave the students an overview of the programmes at VCUarts Qatar.

VCUarts Qatar Dean of Academic Affairs Dr Cherif Amor highlighted the importance of balancing academic studies with extra-curricular programmes. He said that it’s important to remember that education is not only about exams and grades.

Participation in extra-curricular activities during your formative years here at VCUarts Qatar is crucial for picking up new skills for future careers. So, be curious about the unfamiliar, participate in discussions on topics that are new to you, and be open to novel ideas and opportunities that will come your way during the next four years. All this will go a long way in helping you succeed in the workplace, and in life.

The student orientation programme – which, under normal circumstances, would have been a week-long, activity-driven introduction to VCUarts Qatar – was adapted in line with the latest guidelines recommended by the Ministry of Public Health.

In addition to an introduction to the university’s facilities, resources, activities, and associations, the new students were also briefed on the health and safety precautions that the university has rigorously implemented across the campus, in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Class of 2025

Keeping in mind the safety and well-being of its community, the Class of 2025 was divided into small groups to tour the university, and to participate in activities organised specifically for the purpose. Stringent social-distancing measures, pre-allotted schedules, one-way movement to enter and exit the building, and low-touch adaptations, ensured a safe – and memorable – introduction to VCUarts Qatar for the new students.

VCUarts Qatar orientation programme Aug 2021 3Haneen Shafeeque, one of the Class of 2025 students, said it was her second introduction to VCUarts Qatar, the first time was when she joined the inaugural edition of the Summer Art and Design Program for High School Students in 2020.

The former Doha British School student said it was exciting to meet other new students and university staff, especially after the restrictions imposed by the pandemic. She said that despite the social distancing measures in place, she found the atmosphere at VCUarts Qatar to be incredibly warm and welcoming.

Another new student Gabrielle Tesfaye, came all the way from Milwaukee, USA, two days prior to the orientation programme, to pursue the two-year MFA in Design at VCUarts Qatar. She said she heard of the university through a friend, an MFA graduate.

I’d completed my BFA in Painting and Drawing, and Filming and Animation, from UW-Milwaukee Peck School of the Arts, at the University of Milwaukee and I was on the lookout for a programme that would help me combine my love for the fine arts, with technology.

The VCUarts Qatar MFA programme, she said, seemed to be the perfect fit for her. Her recent tour of the university made her feel that her choice was spot on – the facilities and resources are world-class, and the best she’s seen so far. As an added bonus, she also gets to experience a different culture.

More information about VCUarts Qatar is available at

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