Virginia Tech has signed a four-year agreement with Effat University in Saudi Arabia to develop a world-class college preparation program.

The agreement, signed during the International Exhibition and Conference on Higher Education in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, calls for the Virginia Tech Language and Culture Institute to assist in improving the Effat English Academy.

Effat University is a private, nonprofit all-women's institution in Jeddah. The Effat English Academy aims to bridge the gap between secondary school education and university education through English language and academic preparation classes.

The Language and Culture Institute, which for more than 40 years has provided similar classes to international students at Virginia Tech, is part of Virginia Tech’s Outreach and International Affairs. The institute will help develop curricula, detail administrative procedures, and train faculty members at Effat.

“This partnership embodies our mission of sharing the best of Virginia Tech by working alongside communities around the world,” said Guru Ghosh, vice president for Outreach and International Affairs. “In Effat, we have a partner who is dedicated to educating and empowering women by providing an interdisciplinary environment conducive to research, community service, and lifelong learning.”

Donald Back, director of the Language and Culture Institute, and Ian Leuschner, director of International Support Services, also part of Outreach and International Affairs, traveled to the conference in Riyadh for the signing. There, they met with Effat’s president, Haifa Jamal Al-Lail.

Back said the new partnership could lead to additional opportunities, such as summer programs at Virginia Tech for Effat students, student and faculty exchange programs, and joint research opportunities.

“Such partnerships help advance Virginia Tech as a global land-grant leader because they promote a global exchange of ideas in teaching, research, and engagement,” Back said. “We are building connections that will help expose Virginia Tech students to people of other nations and other cultures while helping our two institutions address common needs.”

In addition to providing academic preparation, the institute also recruits students internationally on behalf of the university and prepares international students for admission to Virginia Tech. In 2016, its recruiters spent more than 300 days on the road searching for promising students in more than 15 countries.

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