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Dublin City University 'reviewing relationship' with Saudi university

“Dublin City University is monitoring current developments related to Saudi Arabia and is reviewing its relationships in that context,” a DCU spokesperson confirmed this week.

Image: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

DUBLIN CITY UNIVERSITY is reviewing its relationship with a Saudi Arabian University in light of the ongoing controversy over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

“Dublin City University is monitoring current developments related to Saudi Arabia and is reviewing its relationships in that context,” a DCU spokesperson confirmed as Turkey says that the 59-year-old was strangled as soon as he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last month.

DCU Student Union president Vito Moloney Burke also confirmed work was ongoing in the university on the matter, saying “any decision, either way will be done so with vigorous research”.

The spokesperson declined to say if the university would be issuing a public statement once it had concluded the review. 

DCU has retained a relationship with Princess Nourah Bint Abdulrahman University (PNU) since the summer of 2012, when it signed an agreement to deliver two undergraduate degree programmes there: a Bachelor in Business Studies International Finance BSIF, and Bachelor of Marketing, Innovation and Technology.

PNU is one of the largest women-only universities in the world with more than 60,000 students. It is named after Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman, the sister of the founder of Saudi Arabia.

DCU has also completed an in-depth curriculum review with PNU as part of “broadening our offering from business to human performance, health science and nursing”.

Secretary of the NUJ, Séamus Dooley told TheJournal.ie that he believes any review should “take all of five minutes”.

“What I would say is that I believe they should withdraw. It is unconscionable that a college which has a distinguished record – not just in journalism but also in politics and public affairs – would be involved in an ongoing basis at this stage,” he continued.

Dooley acknowledged the decision could be financially difficult for DCU to take. He said he absolutely recognised it “could be a potentially difficult decision to DCU on an economic level but on an ethical level it’s a no brainer”.

Dooley had previously written to the President of DCU, Professor Brian MacCraith, in his role as a board member of IBEC, calling on the organisation to cancel a joint event with the Irish Saudi Arabia Business Council (ISABC).

In the letter Dooley said, “Given DCU’s distinguished role in journalism education I believe you will fully understand the gravity of this murder and I request your support for cancellation of tomorrow’s event.”

The event did not go ahead.

Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi Arabian journalist, and critic of the leadership regime in the country, was murdered in the Saudi embassy in Istanbul on 2 October.

The Turkish prosecutor investigating the case said this week that Khashoggi was strangled immediately after entering his country’s embassy in Istanbul. In a gruesome, premeditated killing, his body was then dismembered and destroyed.

Saudi authorities initially denied Khashoggi was dead, saying he had left the premises alive and well. 

DCU’s relationship with PNU has already come under scrutiny this year when it emerged that DCU was advertising positions at the university in Saudi Arabia. However, no men were allowed apply  for the positions at the all-female university.

DCU has also failed to disclose the financial relationship between the two universities.

In response to parliamentary questions tabled by Independent TD Clare Daly earlier this year, the Department of Education said, “DCU has entered into a commercial contract with the university in question for the delivery of DCU degree programmes in that university. The financial details are commercially sensitive and therefore confidential.”

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Brian Mahon

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