Destination Dubai

Wide variety of courses, relatively lower cost of living, easy connectivity and opportunity
to interact with peers from diverse countries make Dubai a favourite choice


Muaz Shabandri

Published: Tue 11 Oct 2011, 8:49 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 7:41 AM

Education in Dubai comes with no qualms. With some 27 universities offering more than 300 courses, more students are coming here to study.

More than a third of the students studying in Dubai’s private universities are, in fact, students coming here just to do their studies.

Dhanesh Surendhran is one among them. A master’s student at the University of Wollongong in Dubai, he decided to study in Dubai because of its multinational student population.

“I wanted an international perspective and that’s what brought me to Dubai. There are students of different nationalities studying here which makes it all the more interesting,” says Dhanesh.

He plans to expand his family business globally while completing his study programme.

Khaleej Times spoke with Dr Ayoub Kazim, managing director of TECOM Investments’ Education Cluster on the growth of Dubai’s educational institutions and how it has placed the city as a leading educational hub in the region.


What is the current growth rate for universities in Dubai International Academic City (DIAC)?

I am confident the number of students at Dubai International Academic City (DIAC) has increased by 10 to 15 per cent based on growth numbers shared by universities. However, it is difficult to accurately quantify the growth as many schools, if not all, are still enrolling students to their programmes before the 2011-2012 academic year in September/October.

Why would a student come to Dubai to continue his/her studies?

The education sector has expanded dramatically over the past few years, with universities from all over the world setting up their campuses in Dubai. An array of opportunities is now available for students on the lookout for graduate and post-graduate programmes. Universities pay special attention to students’ needs, offering them a wide variety of courses to choose from and a huge number of facilities to utilise.

Moreover, Dubai offers a relatively lower cost of living as compared to most countries in the West, enabling students to enjoy a comfortable lifestyle whilst pursuing their goals. Leading universities from all over the world including the UK, the US, India and Australia have set up branch campuses at DIAC that follow the stringent admission criteria and offer quality education akin to their flagship campuses.

All this coupled with the easy connectivity that Dubai offers through its strategic location and advanced air transport network makes Dubai a popular destination. Dubai is within an average four-hour flying distance from almost three quarters of the world, making it a perfect ‘home away from home’ for students from any part of the world.

What are the challenges in attracting foreign students to free zone universities?

Some of the challenges in attracting foreign students to free zone universities are centred on living away from home and the cost involved in staying abroad. Also, students have to make language and cultural adjustments to study in a foreign country, which can offer an opportunity to develop the student’s personality but also pose a challenge at the same time.

DIAC is home to 27 multi-tiered universities from 11 countries that deliver over 300 academic programmes in varied streams. The students need to select their courses wisely, picking those programmes that meet their interests and preparing for the human resource market back in their home countries or for the UAE if they would like to join the workforce here.

Is lifestyle an important contributing factor for these students?

Students in Dubai have the opportunity to interact with peers from diverse nationalities, cultures and backgrounds. Additionally, Dubai is a world-class city with towering skyscrapers that is an ideal destination for students. It offers facilities of the highest international standards and exhibits a perfect combination of traditional values and the modern cultures of the western world. Besides studies, the city offers students several options to engage themselves according to their interests whether it lies in architecture or tourism, business or fashion, and music or arts. It is widely known that the UAE has a much lower crime rate than almost any western city, putting Dubai on the map as one of the safest cities in the world.

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