Now, students from region prefer UAE over the UK

Now, students from region prefer UAE over the UK

Population growth, better services make country a top education destination.


Muaz Shabandri

Published: Sun 6 Jul 2014, 12:42 AM

Last updated: Fri 3 Apr 2015, 9:49 PM

The UAE’s private education sector is among the fastest growing in the world, according to a new report released by Alpen Capital. Population growth and easy access to services has made the UAE one of the top education destinations in the Middle East.

“The UAE education industry is one of the fastest developing sector worldwide, generating large-scale revenues and employment. The Emiratis and the expatriates are increasingly turning towards private education institutions due to the quality they offer,” read a report on GCC Education released earlier this week.

Interestingly, Dubai has now outpaced the UK in attracting students from the Middle East and has become the third most popular destination (followed by France and the US) for students from the region, according to figures released by the Unesco.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE plan to spend more than 20 per cent of their total expenditure on education in 2014, reflecting the commitment of both governments to strengthen human capital.

“Technology-driven education is an emerging trend in the region, topping the priority lists of governments of the (GCC) member nations. The UAE education sector is the most developed across the GCC, in wake of continuous government focus coupled with the presence of top-ranked universities.”

Currently, the UAE has more than 100 private education providers in the higher education sector and a total of 433 international schools. Analysts are hoping the sector will continue to grow as more families move to the UAE.

“Due to (the) unrest, families from several Middle East nations are migrating to Dubai and Abu Dhabi, resulting in a significant demand for schools in these cities. By 2020, the number of school students in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, together, is expected to reach 700,000,” added the report by Alpen Capital.

Private schools offering international curricula are emerging as a preferred choice over public schools, with increasing number of students shifting from the latter to the former. Private institutes across the GCC are also attracting students from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, who seek quality education within a geographically proximate area.

“The UAE and Qatar rank high as preferred education destinations by students in the Middle East. Factors such as simple visa procedures and the presence of international education institutes of repute are furthering the appeal of these two nations among students overseas. Students in the region are increasingly turning to Dubai, instead of the UK, to obtain quality international-level education.”

Dubai was also ranked the most advanced private school market across the GCC, with a market size of $1.1 billion in 2012, in terms of annual fee collected by schools.

Sameena Ahmad, managing director, Alpen Capital, says, “The growth of the GCC education sector is driven by factors such as population growth, increasing number of expatriates, the rising importance of high-quality education in the society, and a growing spending propensity. The sector is gaining additional momentum from governments across the GCC that are acknowledging the need for an education system capable of producing industry-ready graduates. Thus, with increased focus on improving the quality and reach of education in the region, the sector presents an interesting investment opportunity.”

The country is also witnessing an increase in the number of private players in the higher education segment, which cater to a growing number of youth.

“These universities offer better job opportunities upon completion of education, which is encouraging an inflow of students. Lower travel costs and cultural familiarity are part of the appeal.”

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