University College London (UCL), a partner of Qatar Foundation and Qatar Museums, has celebrated the achievements of its first 59 graduating students in a spectacular ceremony at its Education City campus, UCL Qatar.

Graduating students shared the occasion in front of an audience of 300 guests that included family, friends, faculty and VIP guests from Qatar and the UK. Consistently ranked in the top 5 best universities in the world, the students are the very first to receive a Master’s degree from a British university based in Doha.

Held at the Auditorium of the Georgetown University Building where UCL Qatar is based, the ceremony honoured students from 21 countries, making UCL one of the most diverse university campuses in Qatar. A total of 17 Qatari nationals were amongst the graduating class, across Master’s degree programmes in Library and Information Studies, Museum Studies, Archaeology, and Conservation, as well as a Diploma in Academic Research and Methods. The students graduate with one of the world’s most distinguished and sought-after degrees.

VIP guests in attendance included HE Sheikh Faisal bin Qassim Al Thani and HE Nicholas Hopton, the British Ambassador to Qatar. Hopton, who delivered a rousing speech to the graduates, used the opportunity to highlight the outstanding and close long-term relationship shared between Qatar and the United Kingdom, including in the areas of Education and Culture, where UCL works with its partners Qatar Foundation and Qatar Museums to fulfil Qatar Vision 2030.

Professor Anthony Smith, UCL Vice Provost for Education and Student Affairs, conferred the students with their degrees. Speaking at the ceremony, Professor Smith said:

Today’s graduation ceremony is the culmination of a long and special journey. When UCL entered into partnership with Qatar Foundation and Qatar Museums to open a campus in Qatar, we envisaged a centre of excellence where students from Qatar and from all corners of the globe could receive an education in cultural heritage of the very highest calibre. Today those ambitions have been fulfilled, and we are proud to see our students already going on to pursue PhD studies, and to begin senior roles in distinguished organisations such as UNESCO, Qatar National Museum, Qatar National Library and the Museum of Islamic Art.’

Professor Thilo Rehren, Director of UCL Qatar, added:

The UCL Institute of Archaeology in London is the largest department for cultural heritage teaching in the world, and is consistently rated as the best in the UK. To now see highly talented Qatari candidates coming through their Master’s degree programmes with us at UCL Qatar, and continuing on with their careers, means that Qatar faces a very bright future in its museums and heritage sector. As London’s Global University, our first graduation ceremony is just a small step in our efforts to continue to bring cultural heritage to the forefront within Qatar and elsewhere in the Arab and Islamic worlds.’

Chairman and CEO of QMDI, the agency representing UCL Qatar in the delivery of the event, Hamad Khalifa Hassan Al Naser, commented:

I wish to extend my warm congratulations to the talented graduates, collaborating with UCL Qatar on this memorable day to recognise and reward the students for their hard work and fantastic achievements has been an absolute pleasure.’

As representatives from the student body, Sheikha Nouf Mubarak Saif Al Thani and Btool Hashem Mohamed Al-Sayed reflected upon their time at UCL through moving speeches delivered to the audience and their fellow graduates. Al Sayed, a graduate of the Master’s programme in Library and Information Studies, added that the vision of HH Sheikha Moza bint Nasser has ‘inspired all Qatari citizens to push the limits of their knowledge, and to fulfil their potential to the greatest of their ability.’

Qatari student Noora Hilal Al Meadadi was honoured for Outstanding Academic Achievement, receiving the award for highest attainment in her class of students, while Stathis Doganis received the Contribution to Student Life award for his efforts to develop the unique UCL student experience in Qatar.

In total, members of this year’s graduating class come from 21 countries, including Qatar, Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon, UK, USA, Canada, Greece, Germany, Italy, Poland, Serbia, Sweden, Finland, China, India, Armenia and Panama.

Encouraging students to take part in extracurricular local community outreach programmes is a unique and special aspect at the core of UCL mission. UCL Qatar has successfully completed within their academic studies programmes such as ‘best buddies’ that works with young people with special needs to promote tolerance and openness, art workshops for local schools supporting Qatar’s heritage, hosting history and archaeology professional development courses for local SEC teachers and welcoming high school pupils to the conservation labs within UCL Qatar Conservation Department.

UCL Qatar is currently accepting applications to all of its Master’s degrees and Diploma programmes, for entry on 30 August 2015. The degree programmes vary between one year and two years in length, and can be taken on a full-time basis, or on a part-time basis, which is suitable for candidates who are currently in employment. The application deadline is 1 June 2015, and applications can be submitted online via the UCL Qatar website.

UCL is consistently ranked in the top five best universities in the world. It is also the only British university to operate a campus in Qatar at Education City, in partnership with Qatar Foundation and Qatar Museums. Programmes available for students are exclusively at a postgraduate level and focus on cultural heritage offering four Master’s degrees in; MA Archaeology of the Arab and Islamic World, MA Museum and Gallery Practice, MSc Conservation Studies and an MA Library and Information Studies. In addition, UCL Qatar offers a postgraduate Diploma in Academic Research and Methods.