Dubai university intake rises 11 per cent

by JBrown on July 20, 2012

in Lifestyle

Post image for Dubai university intake rises 11 per cent

The large rise was driven by an 18 per cent increase in student number at universities in free zones. 

The intake at Dubai’s universities rose by 10 per cent this academic year despite the global financial crisis that has seen many universities all over the world cutting back on expenditure.

The emirate has 52 universities in total, many of them quite small and specialist colleges, or small branches of foreign universities. The total number of students rose to 43,212 this year from 39,127 in 2010-2011. Most of the students are from outside the UAE, but there were a total of 18,708 students from the emirates (43 per cent), an 11 per cent rise from 16,805 last year, according to figures released in the Higher Education Landscape in Dubai 2011 report, released by the Human and Knowledge Development Authority (KHDA).

A big change was the 18 per cent rise in student numbers at the universities situated in free zones. The rise was a direct result of Dubai’s Law 21, which increased the status of these degrees, making the institutions more attractive to students from the UAE.

Law 21 recognises free zone degrees

Previously, they had not been recognised for government jobs. But Law 21, which came into force last summer, put free-zone degrees on a par with qualifications from institutions accredited by the Ministry of Higher Education.

The new law recognises KHDA as the governing body authorised to certify academic qualifications from private institutions in the economic zones for use in public sector employment in Dubai. Around 60 per cent of higher education institutions operate within Dubai’s free zones, whereas 34 per cent are located outside the free zones, and six per cent are federal entities.

The rises in Dubai’s student numbers contrasted with universities in the US and the UK, where fewer students enrolled this year. In the UK rises in tuition fees saw an 8.7 per cent fall in applicants.

Need to diversify programmes

However, the report said that Dubai should diversify its programmes. Despite the large number of institutions, there were not enough courses to choose from. The report said Dubai needed to introduce more options to provide for the different needs of the labour market.

Business was the dominant subject providing 39 per cent of higher education programmes, followed by information technology and engineering. Dubai’s increasing population, however, is creating a demand for healthcare, education and transportation sector professionals.

The strength and awareness of Dubai’s university sector will help to drive the economy forward as graduates stay on to take up jobs in the UAE. This has to be good news for investors banking on the stability of Dubai’s economy and its ability to attract the best minds.

The Dubai property market is a far more stable bet than back in 2009. This should spark interest in the many new hotel developments, such as The First Group’s two luxury hotel apartment projects in Tecom, Metro Central and Grand Central, which are situated in the bustling business district of Tecom in the heart of “New Dubai”. The luxury end of the market did particularly well in 2011, soaring 17.6 per cent.

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