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National Power Academy

The National Power Academy in Dammam, Saudi Arabia.

The future of Bismarck State College's partnership with an energy training academy in Saudi Arabia will be discussed later this month after fall enrollment numbers are released.

Last year, Saudi Arabia, in partnership with BSC, welcomed its first group of students to the National Power Academy in Dammam. The academy offers a variety of energy training programs to Saudi men in an effort to grow the country's energy workforce. BSC provides the training and curriculum for two-year diploma programs at the academy.

Over the course of a year, the academy has produced lower-than-expected enrollment, prompting BSC officials to review the partnership.

On Tuesday, officials told the board of directors of the BSC Innovations Foundation, which oversees the partnership, that additional students are expected to enroll at the academy later this month.

For the first year, just 65 students were enrolled in BSC's program at the academy, compared to a 600-student projection.

In order to enroll in a two-year degree program at the National Power Academy, a student must have a sponsoring company, such as Saudi Aramco or General Electric. The recruiting and sponsoring of students is the responsibility of the academy, BSC President Larry Skogen told the board Tuesday.

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Additional students are expected to enroll Sept. 24, after which Skogen said he'll discuss "the sustainability of the program long-term" with the CEO of the academy.

BSC officials signed a five-year contract with the National Power Academy, which includes protection against financial losses. The contract states BSC expenses are covered, plus 20%. In addition, BSC receives a $4,000 per student, per year fee for licensing its curriculum, but revenues haven't met the expectations of the college, which hoped the program would be a big moneymaker for the school.

"Obviously the big issue for us is the number of students," Skogen told the board. "The sustainability of the program for us is that that number has to increase."

Officials now wait for fall enrollment numbers to determine how to proceed with the partnership.

“I’m very optimistic moving forward," Skogen told the board.

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(Reach Blair Emerson at 701-250-8251 or Blair.Emerson@bismarcktribune.com)

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