For 15 years, students from Kuwait have been coming to the West Virginia University School of Dentistry to learn the skills necessary to care for patients in their native country. An agreement signed today extends the educational partnership between WVU and the Embassy of the State of Kuwait to the WVU School of Medicine and the WVU School of Pharmacy and expands the existing program with the dentistry school.

Kuwaiti students come to WVU directly out of high school to get their undergraduate degrees. After that, they are admitted to the health professions schools when they meet the qualifications for admission.

Chris Martin, M.D., M.Sc., director of the Global Engagement Office for WVU Health Sciences, said it takes collaborative efforts throughout the university to make this happen. In addition to the schools at Health Sciences, the Office of International Students and Scholars, the Intensive English Program and the various undergraduate programs of the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences all play integral roles.

“At WVU, our mission calls upon us ‘to build pathways for the exchange of knowledge and opportunity between the state, the nation and the world.’ Today, we can celebrate our mission in action as we train future healthcare leaders for the emirate of Kuwait,” Dr. Martin said.

“WVU benefits greatly from the presence of these students,” Chancellor for WVU Health Sciences Christopher C. Colenda, M.D., M.P.H., said. “Their presence improves the educational experience for all students and helps WVU achieve its goal of being a truly world-class university.”

There is a need for more health professionals in Kuwait. Several published studies, conducted by the Kuwait Institute for Medical Specialization, concluded that the supply of native dentists and physicians is likely to remain insufficient to meet the projected demand until the year 2020.

Under these agreements, up to five students may be accepted into the School of Pharmacy, up to five students in the School of Dentistry, and up to three students in the School of Medicine, each year.

The Embassy of Kuwait was represented by Dr. Abdul Azeez Al-Omar, the director of the Cultural Office, at the signing ceremony in Morgantown today, while Chancellor Colenda represented WVU Health Sciences.