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Chapter Seven: Universities and Higher Studies in the UAE

There is a very high take-up of tertiary education by students in the UAE. From 80 to 95% of students, both male and female, go on to enroll in a tertiary institution following completion of their secondary education. This enviable situation is possible mainly because attendance at public universities is free to citizens.

The UAE universities are of a good standard, with three of them ranking in the top 500 universities worldwide. There are a variety of private universities also operating in the UAE, including well-respected institutions like the American University in Dubai, the New York University in Dubai and others like the Canadian University in Dubai. Students from all over the world attend Dubai’s universities, along with Emirati students.

While many of the universities only offer undergraduate courses, some also provide for graduate studies. Most UAE universities will be able to process a student visa for their international attendees.

There are a variety of different structures for tertiary education on offer in Dubai. Some institutions follow the British system of enrolling students in the sixth form for two years, to cater to 16 to 18 year old, while others follow the European equivalent systems.

With such a variety of opportunities for tertiary studies, a student must evaluate what is most appropriate to meet their long-term educational and future employment goals. There are numerous factors that are important to check and weigh up, starting with accreditation. Many tertiary institutions have been accredited by the UAE Ministry of Education while others have gained accreditation from international educational systems.

The ranking of the tertiary institutions under consideration could be a guiding factor. Where do they rank internationally, and have they won any awards or globally recognized accolades? Universities that have been established for a long time should have been able to build up a solid reputation and an established research tradition contributing to respectable academic publications.

Practical considerations would include the location of the campus and its accessibility by private or public transport, and the campus facilities on offer could be a deciding factor. In many cases, students will also need to arrange accommodation for the duration of their studies and if the university of their choice does not have accommodation, they should provide assistance in organizing suitable accommodation for their students.

When researching a suitable university to attend, sometimes the little details can tell a story. Check the credentials of the lecturers and department heads, looking for excellence and recognition in their individual academic backgrounds. Enrollment figures can also indicate the success and attractiveness of any particular university. How many people graduated from initial enrollment numbers? Examine the quality of their website and social media channels to determine their ability to disseminate and communicate.

The visibility of an active and successful alumni is a good indicator of the quality of a university, and whether or not they can organize internships for their students. A further indicator of the quality and desirability of any tertiary institute under consideration is how many of their graduates are obtaining employment and from which courses and with which companies or organizations.


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