'Student visa extension will attract more universities to UAE'
Mohammad Abdullah, DIAC managing director
Dubai - The new visa policy for students enables a 5-year residency visa for all students and a 10-year-visa for academically exceptional ones
The Dubai International Academic City (DIAC) is expecting an influx of universities looking to set up there once the new student visa extension policy gets implemented by end of this year, a top Dubai education official has said.
Mohammad Abdullah, managing director of the Dubai International Academic City (DIAC) and the Dubai Knowledge Park, said they would be extremely selective when it comes to the universities that start branches in DIAC.
Abdullah said the new visa extension policy would bring several changes to the UAE education industry, especially in Dubai, seeing an influx of students, universities and an increased ability to retain top talent.
The new visa policy for students was announced earlier this week, enabling a five-year residency visa for all students (instead of the current one-year), a 10-year-visa for academically exceptional students, and a visa extension after graduation for students who live as dependents of their parents here. The move is aimed at helping them secure employment after studies.
"I know there are other centres in the UAE, but today, with the volume we have in terms of universities and students numbers (26,000) at DIAC, it has become a destination and a hub for higher education. With that sort of pace and with the support of this new visa policy, it will attract a lot of foreign investments in higher education. Without these policies, we managed to attract a high volume of students, but with it, it will only increase," Abdullah said.
"The most important thing for us is not just the volume, but, also the quality - so we're being selective in picking the type of universities and the type of study they offer. The number will increase, as there will be more interest from universities that want to set up here."
Abdullah said the new visa policy will be an added incentive to some of the offerings DIAC and Dubai Knowledge Park already provides to its students, especially when it comes to part-time working opportunities.
Students in DIAC and Dubai Knowledge Park can obtain part-time work permits to work in one of the 4,500 companies that fall under the Dubai Creative Cluster.
As the new visa extension policy rolls in, Abdullah said DIAC plans on partnering with more industries to ensure the expected growing number of students have more options. "We are looking to work even more towards tying different industries to academic institutions and this is where we launched the student part time visa," he said.