Framework for grooming leaders of tomorrow

Filed on May 19, 2020
Prospective students and parents consider future employment prospects when selecting universities and academic programmes.

Higher Education Classification identifies Dubai-based institutions' strengths and position as a developmental hub

The Higher Education Classification represents a milestone and symbolises a new maturity in Dubai's higher education sector. The last 10 years have seen student enrolment more than double, from 12,000 students in 2008, to almost 30,000 students today. As the sector continues to grow, so too does the need for a transparent and robust rating framework that will enable institutions to showcase their strengths and that will also provide the public with helpful, relevant data to inform higher education decision-making.

Core criteria categories

Teaching: Traditionally, universities built their reputations around research output by faculty. Today's students expect faculty to contribute to their learning through effective, quality teaching. Universities that can demonstrate teaching excellence will attract students and have a competitive advantage in the higher education sector. Over 75 per cent of institutions earned 4 stars (41.2 per cent) or 5 stars (35.2 per cent) in the Teaching category.

Employability: Prospective students and parents consider future employment prospects when selecting universities and academic programmes. Strong employability data gives universities a significant advantage. This sends students a positive signal, namely that graduates from their university are held in high regard by employers and that they stand a good chance of finding a job after graduation themselves.

Research: The research category enables higher education institutions to demonstrate their research assets such as research quality and productivity. Research output should be a recognisable aspect of the strategic priorities and growth-plan of the university, and should be visible in the institution's everyday operational reality. Research outcomes contribute not only to society's intellectual knowledge base, but also create wealth in the community in which the university is located and beyond. A 3-star rating or more was achieved by 76 per cent of the institutions, with 47.1 per cent reaching 5 stars.

Internationalisation: There is a need for higher education institutions to cultivate a global outlook to offer students the best possible preparation for life and careers in the 21st century. It is important for institutions to develop and articulate their own campus-based internationalisation strategy to meet the expectations of students who increasingly want international experiences while pursuing their university studies. More than 50 per cent of the institutions gained 4 stars or more on internationalisation.

Learning environment criteria

Facilities: The learning environment category focuses on the physical and technological infrastructure that the university has created to support student learning. Institutions that provide high quality learning environments will benefit in terms of recruitment, retention, and student satisfaction. About 70 per cent of the institutions have 5-star or 4-star rating for facilities; only two institutions did not achieve 3 stars.

Specialist criteria category

Overall programme strength: In conventional university ranking systems, specialist institutions tend to be underrated (or excluded from ratings) in comparison with comprehensive institutions, despite the fact that they may be recognised as 'world-class' in their given field. This category gives institutions the opportunity to benefit from the delivery of high-quality academic programmes. A 5-star rating was the largest category with eight out of 17 institutions, 47.1 per cent, achieving this rating.

Advanced criteria categories

Well-being: This category serves as the impetus to officially recognising happiness across the higher education sector in Dubai. This indicator captures data on how institutions are facilitating environments which nurture and encourage the personal wellbeing and professional development of students. The well-being category showed 5-star ratings for 70.6 per cent of the institutions. None of the institutions scored lower than 2 stars.

Innovation: Universities have a role to play in unlocking the economic and social value of ideas by creating pathways for scientific, entrepreneurial, and creative enterprises. This category gives universities the opportunity to showcase their innovative achievements. Of the seven institutions that submitted data for innovation, two (28.6 per cent) achieved either 4-star or 5-star rating. Four institutions (57.1 per cent) achieved 3 stars.

- Source: KHDA

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