Class demographics shed light on cultural integration

Picking a class of students is never an easy task. Ideally, admissions officers want a selection of students that will coalesce as a group and enrich ...

Picking a class of students is never an easy task. Ideally, admissions officers want a selection of students that will coalesce as a group and enrich each other, becoming greater than the sum of its parts.
NYU Abu Dhabi’s class of 2017 has had about three weeks to settle into their new home. Comprised of 175 students from 72 countries across five continents, the last few weeks have been a quick introduction to life as a college student, and also life in the UAE.
Among the members of the class of 2017 are a published novelist, numerous founders of non-governmental organizations, and also quite a few enterprising young men and women who run their own business back home.
A total of 204 offers were made for the class of 2017, and with a yield of 86.2 percent, this year's additions now mean that the student body collectively represents 102 nationalities and speaks 98 different languages. Among the nationalities enjoying a stronger representation in this year’s class are students from Pakistan, the United States, China and India.
The class’ academic records are also strong, on par with other prestigious universities in the world. The 25th percentile SAT math score was 715, while the 75th percentile was 800. Students scored an average of 32 out of 36 on the ACT.
“In three short years NYU Abu Dhabi has become an international magnet for young men and women who are not only among the very best academically, but who share a passion for learning and a resolve to build a more united, just and peaceful world,” said Al Bloom, vice chancellor of NYUAD.
One thing that sets this year’s freshman class apart is a change in composition. For the first time at NYUAD, Emirati nationals form the largest nationality represented in the class body, with 24 out of the 175 matriculated students hailing from the UAE.
“I would say that we’ve seen a lot more interest from the Emirati community, and not just Abu Dhabi, because with universities, information about this normally spreads by word of mouth,” said Anna Dechert, associate director of admissions at NYUAD. “The name of NYU has gotten out now and the local interest we’re receiving now is mainly a result of the groundwork we’ve lain down in the region over the last few years.”
Upperclassmen commented on how the new composition might change the dynamic of this year’s class, based on their experiences with the NYUAD community as a whole.
“I really don’t think it will make much of a difference,” said senior Nishant Mohanchandra. “It’s true that some Emirati students from Abu Dhabi don’t live in Sama Tower, and perhaps because of that, miss out on some of the student life that takes place on the weekends, but they still are in classes, and the university community as a whole still benefits from their unique perspective.”
Emirati freshman Ahlam Al-Qasim discussed what it means to be a local student in an international community.
“I go home every Thursday, as I live in Dubai,” Al-Qasim said. “But during the week I live with my three roommates in Sama. I think the main issue is not really the Emirati students not staying in Sama, but rather that they tend to stick to themselves and thus people feel intimidated to approach them.”
Al-Qasim also said that because so many of the Emirati students are in the Opportunities Program, where they take different classes from the other members of their class, the international community misses out on the opportunity to interact with them in class.
Parents are also a factor in the equation. Some students live nearby with their parents instead of in Sama.
“I do believe that for those students who return home regularly, it does affect their relationship with the class, because they don’t get to benefit from the discourse and discussion that goes on in the study rooms and residential rooms of Sama at night,” said Al-Qasim.
Some students ended their thoughts on Emirati integration on a note of uncertainty. Mohanchandra said that although the student body is connected and in tune with each other, it could be better.
Asyrique Asyraf Thevendran is a contributing writer. Email him at 
This article has been revised with the following correction:
The SAT math scores for the class of 2017 are distributed such that the 25th percentile of incoming students scored 715, and the 75th percentile scored a perfect 800. There were not 715 students in the 25th percentile and 800 students in the 75th. 
Emirati students make up the largest nationality represented, however they do not make up the majority of the class of 2017.
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