The US-based Texas A&M University has announced it will close its flagship Qatar campus over ‘heightened instability’ in the Middle East, beginning a multi-year process to sever ties with the Qatar Foundation by 2028.

According to the university’s Board of Regents, they ‘decided to reassess the university’s physical presence in Qatar in fall 2023’, over security concerns, with the decision to sever ties coming down to a 7-1 vote.

“The board has decided that the core mission of Texas A&M should be advanced primarily within Texas and the United States,” Board Chairman Bill Mahomes said in a statement. “By the middle of the 21st century, the university will not necessarily need a campus infrastructure 8,000 miles away to support education and research collaborations.”

The decision does not immediately change operations or services on the campus. The board further stated, in the coming days, university administration will assemble a team, which will ensure that students will be able to complete their education, faculty and staff are supported, and research obligations are appropriately fulfilled.

Qatar Foundation (QF), the state-backed not-for-profit organisation that partnered with Texas A&M to open the campus in 2003, expressed disappointment in a statement posted on its social media, where it said the decision had been “influenced by a disinformation campaign aimed at harming the interests of QF.”

“It is deeply disappointing that a globally respected academic institution like Texas A&M University has fallen victim to such a campaign and allowed politics to infiltrate its decision-making processes,” the  statement read, adding that QF had not been contacted by the Board before the “misguided decision” was taken.

Texas A&M at Qatar was opened to advance education and research in chemical, mechanical, and petroleum engineering in the country and is one of six US universities in Qatar’s Education City, including Carnegie Mellon University, Georgetown University, and Northwestern University.

(Writing by Bindu Rai, editing by Brinda Darasha)